Posted 27 March 2019
Interview by Indi Davies

Make your work findable and memorable: Portfolio advice from chief production officer, Olivia Chalk

A little while ago, we caught up with Olivia Chalk, Grey London’s former chief production officer, to ask her what she looks for in a great portfolio – particularly when it comes to filmmaking and advertising creatives. As someone who’s constantly on the hunt for emerging talent, she tells us what sticks out for her, the best formats for presenting your work and how to make yourself accessible online.

I’m always looking for new talent online. While production companies do a fantastic job of showcasing their talent, I’ll never stop looking for new inputs and emerging creatives. There’s nothing more rewarding than developing a relationship with someone whose career then really flourishes and grows – it’s such a great journey to be part of.

Consider the details
I think it’s really important to consider how you’ll be perceived when people land on your site and discover you online. On your website, for example, aside from the work itself – which is critically important – things such as typography and having easily accessible contact details have a genuine impact. It doesn’t have to be a complex design, but it does have to be considered.

Make sure you’re contactable
Creative work is a very human business, so please put your phone number on there, as well as an email. It’s really nice to be able to pick up the phone and talk to someone, rather than hoping someone will respond.

“There’s nothing wrong with breadth, but you want to stick in people’s minds for certain work.”

Try not to mix too many genres
When you’re starting out, your work will quite often cover a broad range of genres and topics. Then, if you’re associated with or signed to a production company (as a director for example), they will usually hone a specific route for you over time, to make you saleable. That doesn’t mean you’ll be limited to just making this kind of work, but it becomes a way to help give your work commercial appeal.

So if you’re beginning as an unsigned creative, have a think about the work you most love making, and how you want to present it. To a degree, there’s nothing wrong with showing breadth, but you want to stick in people’s minds for certain work – so that they think of you when particular projects come up. Try not to mix too many genres, or at least categorise them so that they don’t all appear on the same page at once.

Is it findable?
In terms of making yourself more likely to be found, I think some of that is really basic, such as understanding how people search for things on Google, making sure you’re tagging your site properly and connecting out to other relevant sites. Do your research in this area – there’s loads of information about it available online.

Your online network is valuable
Other than that, with social media and beyond, there is a real benefit in building connections with and liking other people’s work that you genuinely admire. Because if I am interested in someone’s work, I will always have a look to see who else is in their network as like-minded, creative people.

Mention Olivia Chalk
Mention Grey London
Interview by Indi Davies