Ratblogger: Can you tell us a little about a typical day for you and what your role at Cellar Rats involves?
Suzie: Once we have planned an episode and decided on the places we want to visit my job as „head of productions“ is to then get in contact with all of the different people who we would like to interview and sort out the dates and logistics. So far, everyone I have spoken to has been enthusiastic about Cellar Rats and really excited to be part of the series. This week I have been speaking with about ten different wineries in South Africa and putting everything in place in advance of the teams visit.
Logistically it can be difficult to find times when everyone can be where we need them to be at the right time, but once we have agreed filming dates it is my task to then book flights, make hotel reservations and plan exact itineraries for the entire team. Each trip is very carefully planned in advance and everything needs to run like clockwork. I tell the team where they need to be and when – every activity, interview, hotel and restaurant is booked in advance. I liaise with the cargo and shipping companies to make sure that our equipment is there when the team arrive and I have to make sure that all of the insurances are in place in case of any mishap. I am told I am invaluable although that does not make me immune from also occasionally having to brew the coffee or make a pot of tea!
Ratblogger: How involved are you with developing the ideas for each episode?
Suzie: Malcolm is the creative one with a lot of exciting ideas for each episode. It is then my task to make their dreams come true. For instance when the team goes to South Africa they will be going skydiving over the wine region. I have to organise that before hand so that all they need to do is to show up and follow the plan I provide – with a parachute obviously! Everything is pre-booked, right down to the cable car that they will ride up the mountain in. I am also called “the voice of reason”, letting Malcolm know what is possible without breaking the bank and making sure we stay within budget of course.
Ratblogger: What are some of your most memorable moments from working on Cellar Rats?
Suzie: There are so many great moments. We certainly do laugh a lot together every day. If I had to pick one special moment it might have to be our trip to Jerez. The locals were incredibly friendly and hospitable, keeping us well fed and letting us taste their remarkable wines.
Ratblogger: What are the biggest challenges that you face?
Suzie: Achieving everything within budget is always the challenge. We want to make the show really interesting, with lots of fun and adventure. Cellar Rats is not going to be like any other wine show out there. The pound fluctuates so much at the moment so I often have to haggle to make sure we stay on top of costs.
Ratblogger: Has your relationship with wine changed since you started working on Cellar Rats?
Suzie: Oh yes! Completely! I understand much more about wine now. My taste for Sherry has completely changed since we travelled to Jerez and tasted the local variety. It was always a drink I remember my mum, dad and gran drinking (back in the day) and found it horrid, but after visiting Jerez I am now completely in love with it.
It has also been interesting to understand the entire process of winemaking and how the old traditions are still widely used, especially in the artisan vineyards. I have learned a lot about growing wine and I also enjoyed learning about the production process.
Can you tell us a bit about your own background? What kinds of projects have you been involved in before Cellar Rats?
Suzie: I’ve been in the film industry for over 35 years and have had the chance to work on lots of really interesting big projects in career. My roles have always been either as Production Manager or Unit Production Manager. I worked on both the original Batman movie as well as Batman Begins, The Bourne Ultimatum, Captain America, Into The Woods, Anna Karenina and Cinderella to name but a few, but woking on Cellar Rats has been the most rewarding.
At times I have organised teams of several hundred people which is quite a challenge in multitasking. This is why Cellar Rats is so lovely to work on - we are a small, close knit team who are never far away and that makes it much easier to communicate.
Ratblogger: What are you most looking forward to as the series progresses?
Suzie: I’m especially looking forward to the music being added and doing the grading for the first finished episode of Cellar Rats. Without music the footage is just a collection of clips but with music we can really bring an episode to life and provide a „wish you were here“ feel.
I’m also really excited to be organising the upcoming travels to Argentina, Chile, Lebanon, California and Canada. Whilst I am not joining the team for these long journeys, I am hoping to travel with them to the Isle of Scilly when they film the extra footage for the UK episode. We’re also meeting one of the UK’s top chefs, Mark Hix, who has agreed to do some cooking for us. I made sure I was the first on the list to sit at his table - his food is nothing short of delicious!