26 Jan 2017

Q&A with Made in Hull Producer Niccy Hallifax

What was it like to work on Made in Hull? Niccy tells us more…

Niccy Hallifax has been working in production for the past 15 years, directing and delivering large-scale, high-profile cultural events, exhibitions and projects.

She was the production mastermind behind our epic opening show, Made In Hull – an event which saw the streets speak and the buildings tell stories through projections.

With Made In Hull, Niccy valued the challenge of working with no site boundaries, which helped her think of new and diverse ways to engage audiences to draw them into the Made In Hull experience.

We caught up with Niccy to find out what it was like working on the project and what the event meant to her.

What did your role as producer for Made In Hull involve?

The producer’s role is always a broad-brushed one. For Made In Hull, I was the holder and overall lead for the project.

I managed different aspects for the creative core team as well as overseeing the building of design production and the development schedule that technical could then adopt and build their technical schedules from.

I was also tasked with creating the briefs for the artists, enabling them to create their own interpretation of what the creative core team had envisioned.

I was privileged to watch as the artists developed their ideas with the creative core team. This also meant leading on the negotiations with all the libraries we used for the raw archive footage. I worked with the team to manage the footage collection (Nova Studios) – so that the artists had what they needed to produce their pieces.

Have you ever been part of a project like Made In Hull before?

I’ve been in the production industry for 15 years and while I have a myriad of experiences working on bringing in very large multi-sited projects with artists, I’ve never done one based on projection installations prior to this.

I really enjoy the challenge of working in the public realm with no site boundaries, as this makes you think in new and diverse ways to ensure that the audience really do feel immersed in the experience the team has created.

What do you enjoy the most about your job as a producer?

In short, the variety. Each day is different and you are dealing with lots of very different creative visionaries whose work needs translating into many different platforms for an event of this nature.

How did the ideas for Made In Hull develop?

The ideas for Made In Hull developed in bursts. Prior to me arriving, the creative core team had developed a narrative that we needed to stick to.

It was important that this was strong, as from this we were able to draw up a list and engage with individual artists or artistic teams to deliver the event for the 1 January. Once the artists were on board, me and Sean McAllister worked very closely with them to make sure the other creative core team members could engage with the artists at key points in the design development phase of the project.

There were some artist commissions that developed beyond the scope of the project, but all answered the briefs and produced some of the best work I’ve seen in this field for a long time.

Once we started to sign off the individual projects, it was up to us to then start enhancing and ensuring the narrative worked as a multipoint trail and spoke to the audience in a befitting manner.

Can you tell us more about the input of Dr Nick Evans and his role in Made In Hull?

University of Hull historian Dr Nick Evans played a huge part in one of the commissions – imitating the dog’s Arrivals And Departures. In particular, his knowledge for the Arrivals and Departures piece at The Deep was imperative. He helped that commission in terms of research, imagery, fact checking and narrative.

I hope it was a very fruitful experience for him. The imitating the dog team he worked with have a vast amount of design experience and I know they really enjoyed and relished working with such an eminent historian.

Other collaborations were also fruitful and I think will live beyond the realms of the Made In Hull project.

What was the most interesting thing you discovered from being a part of this project?

That the penguins and sharks that live in The Deep are susceptible to bass noise. We had to design and engineer the audio and overall composition of the piece with this in mind, so as not to disturb some of The Deep’s more sensitive residents.

What was the best thing for you about the audience response to Made In Hull?

It was completely unexpected that the audience would react how they did – we knew it would appeal to Hull residents and those from the region, but the emotion shown by them was something very special.

It was one of those moments, I think, when the psyche of the concepts really did resonate with a mass participation event and it just made it so special for all those involved in it.

All I can finally say is thank you to all those who came – it could not have happened without the residents of Hull.

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