Nikki Salazar joined Ackerman McQueen in the fall of 2017 following a cross-country move from New York City. A seasoned television producer, Nicole began her career at NBC, and went on to produce series for A&E, Discovery, VH1, USA, Bravo, ITV and E4 (UK). Nicole also served as the unit production manager for an independent film that premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2015 and debuted on ABC Family thereafter. We spoke with Nikki about her experience as a producer and what she hopes to accomplish.
AM: What do you do at Ackerman McQueen?
NIKKI: A little bit of everything! I write scripts, prep shoots, produce and direct in the field, and occasionally oversee post-production. I currently spend most of my time producing different series for the Chickasaw Nation. When the opportunity presents itself, I work on client acquisition videos and internal Ackerman McQueen projects.
AM: You’ve worked the full gamut on producing news, entertainment and documentary video. How do you approach each category of subject matter?
NIKKI: This is a pretty controversial subject in the industry and one I’ve thought a lot about. From my vantage point, there isn’t much of a difference between producing various genres of subject matter. In the end, the goal is the same no matter the genre: create content an audience wants to digest again and again and again. The industry as it is now, doesn’t necessarily share this sentiment. While living in New York, I constantly came across job postings “seeking producers with crime docu-series experience only” or “only those with competition show experience need apply.” I felt those restrictions were limiting and unnecessary. If you’re a strong producer, you can handle any type of show. Moreover, you’ll bring a new perspective and increase the chance of creating something innovative.
AM: What are some of the challenges unique to producers?
NIKKI: Although I love (and could not live without) the dynamic and constantly changing subject matter, production is an intensely challenging line of work. Often, producers are tasked with compiling entire shoots with only a few days’ notice. This type of flexibility allows us to capture opportunities we might otherwise miss.
If you’re going to work in production, you must be resourceful and must be able to make changes on the fly. If I’ve learned nothing else, I’ve learned that every problem has a solution. It’s intense, but few other lines of work allow for this level of creativity and raw content development. For example, AM’s editors are currently working on a Rosetta Stone project for the Chickasaw Nation. Our agency is literally at the forefront of preserving an entire language! How inspiring is that?
AM: What’s one thing you wish everyone would know about production side in film and media production?
NIKKI: Pre-production is the most important stage of production. From my experience, every second spent on prepping a shoot saves money and time on the back end.
Delving deeper, pre-interviewing an interview subject to establish a rapport prior to an interview is the lifeblood of pre-production. In most cases, it’s the difference between a good and a bad interview. You cannot expect a stranger to open up and share their most intimate moments if you haven’t invested yourself into their unique journey and story.
AM: What are you the most excited for with your future at Ackerman McQueen? Any upcoming projects you can talk about?
NIKKI: Although New York is the city of dreams, I wouldn’t even fantasize about finding an advertising agency with in-house production capabilities. They just don’t exist. After all, there are agencies hiring production companies and production companies hiring agencies, but no place does both!
And then, after years of living the frenetic cross-country freelance life, I found Ackerman McQueen. My mind is constantly buzzing with ideas about how we can continue pushing the envelope on upcoming projects. The best part is, these ideas can actually come to life. I’m currently in development on two podcasts, with hopes of 2019 release dates. Having all aspects of production under one roof provides the perfect runway for creativity to reign. I can say with confidence that every day is better than the one before, and I feel certain this trend will continue.