“Do it yourself”: Miguel Hathiramani on making small budgets work
Miguel Hathiramani is a big proponent of the “do it yourself” philosophy. Taking a huge leap of faith, Miguel emigrated to the UK at the age of 16 to pursue their dream of working in film. After studying film and production at The Manchester Film School, they eventually landed a position at ITV Studios, working on hit reality TV series Love Island as a runner. Miguel dove headfirst into the fast-paced, hands-on approach of the industry, all whilst producing their own independent films. Here, they discuss grappling with small budgets, the importance of a supportive crew and living life in order to have stories to tell.
Place of Study
BA Film and TV Production, The Manchester Film School (2018-2022)
What I do
How would you describe what you do as a producer?
My main responsibilities are to provide the creative crew with the tools they need to develop their job in the best way possible. I book technical equipment, locations, logistics – all whilst maintaining a specific budget and schedule within the production.
Besides that, I also write my own stories and produce my own independent films. After that, I organise premiere events to share the film with my followers.
What are the main influences and inspirations behind your work?
In both my job and my personal life, I have created my own world out of my influences. Inside this world, Warhol and Bowie, Reed, Alaska, Jennifer Lopez and my personal trainer, coexist together and inspire my everyday path.
“As a producer, I book technical equipment, locations, logistics – all whilst maintaining a specific budget and schedule within the production.”
Can you tell us about some of your favourite projects to date?
My film How I lost the love of my life was a really beautiful project to develop – there was a really low budget, and when there is little money the thing that you really count on is the energy and passion of your crew. I remember filming until very late into the night, but felt so supported and loved by them. Every single person was giving all their effort to create a beautiful film together.
Working on Love Island was an amazing experience as well. Reality television is a place where everything can suddenly change in hours, and this means being constantly aware and ready to act. It’s a really dynamic environment, and I enjoy that.
In my new project, Valentina, I want to come back to that: the small budget, solving issues, being dynamic and creative... I want to make it with less money and fewer resources – but with more passion.
“When there is little money involved in a film, the thing that you really count on is the energy and passion of your crew.”
Would you say you need any specific training for what you do?
The most important skill when it comes to production is having really open eyes and being able to identify any unexpected issues, and most importantly, having the right attitude to face them and solve them. You need to have an ambitious but realistic mind and be able to play with the resources of the production you are working on.
How I got here
What was your journey like when you were first starting out? Did you find your feet quickly?
When I was a teenager I discovered the artist that was going to end up being one of my life's vital inspirations: Alaska. I remember Alaska talking about Andy Warhol, David Bowie, The Ramones. By listening to her interviews, I discovered that world.
At some point in my teenage life, I decided that I wanted to have the same life my idols had and I wanted to go on a tour. I took my best friend from school and we started our own "tour”, doing magic tricks around many towns and cities in the Canary Islands.
After this, I started being the presenter for these events, and found I was actually better at that. Little by little, I discovered films, and I started getting excited about them. When I was sixteen, I emigrated to the United Kingdom to start studying film and TV oroduction. I began to create my own independent films and work for television companies. I found my real calling in life.
Everyone is on a different path. We all have different motives, inspirations, aspirations, cultures and people influencing us. Never be afraid to try new things, no matter what stage of life you’re in.
“Everyone is on a different path. Never be afraid to try new things, no matter what stage of life you’re in.”
If you could pick three things that you’ve found useful or inspiring to your work or career, what would they be and why?
I don’t have three specific things, but I believe it’s important to read a lot of articles and magazines, research and consume a lot of content.
But the way I mostly get inspired is simply living. Get yourself into difficult situations, get out of your comfort zone, break the routine, kiss people, go to clubs... live a lot and you will have a lot of stories to tell.
“Get out of your comfort zone, break your routine and live a lot. You will have a lot of stories to tell.”
What would you say has been your biggest challenge along the way?
Every day is a continuous challenge on its own. With reality TV shows like Love Island, every single day is different and unique, so you need to be physically and mentally ready to take the reins of any difficulties coming your way.
If you are someone that, just like me, writes and produces your own stories – then just keeping yourself inspired is a challenge in itself.
Learning how to work in another country, away from your family and friends for months has also been challenging.
For me, the most important thing is to take advantage of these challenges and turn them into inspiration.
How important would you say social media and self-promotion are to your work? Do you have any advice or learnings to share?
Social media marketing is a fundamental piece of my work. You can make the most creative, original or emotional films in the world but, how does that matter if no one is watching them?
Of course, you need to create your films with the ultimate purpose of feeling fulfilled as an artist, but from a producer’s point of view, if that product is not sold then it is a lost investment.
I remember publishing on social media the creative process behind my films – hiring theatres and big spaces to create premiere events for my followers. It was a really beautiful feeling to be able to share this with the people who follow my work day by day.
“Social media marketing is fundamental. You can make the most creative or original films in the world but, how does that matter if no one is watching them?”
What have been your greatest learnings with making money and supporting yourself as a creative?
Every person and their career pathway is different. Most people at the beginning are gonna have to get a standard full-time job because the most likely scenario is to get hired for specific productions, and not as a company staff.
However, the most important thing is to think positive – this experience is gonna make you an empowered, versatile hard-worker who is going to be ready for anything. I also believe it is a great idea to generate this money in order to invest it later on your own productions.
What’s the best career-related advice you’ve ever received?
Terry Bamber, a 1st assistant director who worked with Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider and Brad Pitt in World War Z, among many others, once told me: “Always follow the KISS rule: Keep It Simple Stupid”, meaning to keep things achievable but with the best quality possible. This piece of advice has been extremely useful to me, especially in productions where you need to stick to a small budget.
What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar career?
Without any doubt, my main mantra has always been the punk philosophy: “Do it yourself”.
This is not about having an extraordinary talent to do this, or having the best equipment and contacts; the most important thing is just to start doing it, and do it for your own fulfilment.