With an enviable CV in film, Madman's marketing manager Lee-Ann Woon demonstrates that landing your dream job is all about talent, persistence and most importantly, kindness.
Theatrical Media and Marketing Manager, Lee-Ann Woon. Image: supplied
Trying to landing a job in Melbourne as a marketer within the entertainment industry was a journey that took Lee-Ann Woon around the world. She set off for Canada and London, where she began a career in film. Years later she returned home with an impressive portfolio and landed a job at Madman Entertainment – a leading independent film and television distributor – as the company's Theatrical Media and Marketing Manager. She's never looked back.
1) How did you get started?
I studied marketing with the intention of working in entertainment. Unable to find opportunities in Melbourne, I moved to Toronto aged 25 with the blind hope of finding work. I didn't know anyone there, had no contacts in the film industry and didn't even do any research on places to work. All I knew was that the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) was massive and that was at the top of my list. I quickly secured a contract job at TIFF working in the program book team, where I sourced material for the book and assisted with proofreading. I've worked in the entertainment industry since then.
2) What should you never do in your career?
This applies to every job, but don't be a dick and don't let ego get in the way. Most of my jobs have been through contacts and recommendations. Even if your boss has built a career out of bullying, don't emulate their behaviour just because you think that's a way to get people to say yes. Bullying culture has been accepted in the film industry for a long time, as we've had tyrants like Harvey Weinstein as models of behaviour, where being pushy and unreasonably demanding is the norm. But look where he is now. I've come across many successful people who have got to where they are by being nice and treating people at every level with respect.
3) How do you develop a career in film marketing?
The early stages of my career were driven by sheer drive and courage, and once I found a place in the industry I found work through contacts.
After the Toronto International Film Festival, a recruitment agency connected me to a Marketing Coordinator role at eOne TV. I moved into eOne's film division a year later, where I moved up to Marketing Manager. After three years in Toronto I moved to London, where I found work at StudioCanal through a friend. When my UK youth visa expired I moved back to Melbourne. The guys from StudioCanal put me in touch with the guys who run Madman. I was freelancing for a couple of months when Madman got in touch with me to say they were looking to fill a marketing role. I've now been at Madman for six years.
4) What is the biggest misconception about working in the film industry?
It's not always glamorous, pulling 12-hour days working events at film festivals and working late nights at the office, but I must admit it can be a bit glamorous sometimes, when I get to dress up at film events that I don't have to work at.
5) What's the best thing that's happening in the film industry right now?
I am excited that people from diverse backgrounds are more vocal in their push to be seen and heard in front of and behind the camera, but we still have a long way to go in having representation that accurately reflects the diverse makeup of Australia today.
6) What’s one of the most interesting things to happen in your job?
I have so many highlights, most of which are related to meeting interesting talent, but here's a story that gets spread around the most:
In 2008 I started a Facebook group for Ben Mendelsohn called “Mendo would be famous if he gave a fuck,” as he had no online presence or fan accounts. This group was set up prior to his Animal Kingdom resurgence. When he was at Sundance for the Animal Kingdom premiere, one of my colleagues got talking to him about the Facebook group and he demanded to be put on the phone with me. As my phone was off, he left me a voicemail to tell me that the Facebook group was “One of the best fuckin’ things”. In 2017 I finally got to meet him when we brought him to Australia to promote Una.
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