Producer Katrina Olsen brings storytelling to commercials

Producer Katrina Olsen still remembers the moment when she discovered her passion. At the time, she was a standard Australian teenager, taking a film class in high school for fun. However, when the class was given the assignment to explore the framing used to convey emotion within the film Seven, everything changed. As she worked, she found it incredible that something as simple as framing could achieve so much. She knew at this moment that she wanted to be a part of making those types of creative decisions, noticing for the first time what an art form film making truly is. 

“To this day my love of working in this industry stems from the chance to be involved in creating something amazing. To stand back and see the final product and know that you had a hand in crafting it is an amazing feeling,” she said.

Now, Olsen has become a renowned Producer, making quite a name for herself in both the Australian and Canadian entertainment industries. She has used her talents to help shape impactful commercials, helping turn them from simple advertisements to captivating stories. These include the Westjet Christmas Miracle, a moving campaign by Canadian Airline company Westjet to surprise actual customers with Christmas gifts in real-time. Olsen was a part of the inaugural commercial, where Westjet passengers told Santa what they wanted before their flight, and arrived at their destination with their wishes come true. The commercial won two Bronze Lions at Cannes and Gold at both the Cassies and CLIO awards in 2014. The success of the commercial launched a Valentine’s Day campaign, where Westjet went to Barbados along with several couples to create some dream marriage proposals.

“Having worked across a range of formats within the industry including television, commercial and film as well as across three continents both in-studio and on location, my abilities encompass a broad range of skill sets, which makes me a unique problem solver. I have years of experience across hundreds of scenarios to draw from, to find the perfect solution to both production and creative problems,” said Olsen.

Olsen recently went back to Australia to work on a commercial campaign for Nimble, a loan company in the country. Olsen was the Senior Producer for the campaign, and she worked with the Director, DP, Client and creative departments to determine the execution of the ideas. The job was a comprehensive rebrand for Nimble; they wanted to keep their fun tone of voice but showcase the type of loans they offer and relay the ease of getting a loan in a way that was taken more seriously than their current branding. 

“Nimble is a fun brand, although being a finance lender they understand their audience, which is clear through both their advertising strategies and their product services,” said Olsen.

The project was a large challenge to take on, creating six commercials that involved a mix of overlapping elements. Olsen was drawn to the difficult task, knowing she could help make it a success. As she and her team delved into the different concepts for the project, she found it interesting to strike that balance between both informative and comedic scripting and has worked creatively with the Director, Arthur Chan before, she felt she would be the best fit to align the creative vision with the brand’s objectives.

“I surround myself with talented people that have a passion to do a great job, just like myself. Whether it’s finding a practical budget or creative solution it’s a collaborative process and as much as I bring the best out of my crew, I find their positive attitudes bring the best out of me.

To be a good producer you need to have an understanding of the various departments and elements that go into film production. Being aware of the needs of each department allows you to see the whole picture, make informed decisions and be able to have stronger collaborations,” said Olsen.

When it comes to production, Olsen’s goal has always been to produce sets that can take on any challenge, achieve client/brand objectives, but also be a place people want to work. As a Producer, she finds success in that balance between executing a job and finding the passion in the art of that execution, and the Nimble project was exactly that. It was a challenging and well-oiled machine, and Olsen’s continuous positive mindset was inspiring to all she worked with, an important quality in a leader. 

“The particular skills that Katrina brings to each production are her attention to detail and her ability to step back easily and look at the bigger picture. She’s also highly organized which imparts a feeling of confidence amongst those she works with. She’s an excellent communicator and able to stay on top of the various needs of a production that may vary from department to department, whilst also tending to the needs of the client. Katrina is able to walk that fine line of keeping both the client/agency and the production team happy while working within the constraints of the project,” said Matt Gorrie, Director of Photography on the Nimble commercials. “Katrina is a good collaborator and problem solver and is able to maintain a cool persona under pressure. She has a good understanding of the entire production process and what is required from every department.”

The Nimble project was one of Olsen’s favorites throughout her career. The stakes were high, presenting challenges both creatively and functionally with ensuring that all legal elements were adhered to and finding that balance of informative versus engaging. As a rebranding exercise, this was a crucial element, and it meant Olsen and the director had to really work through the creative to strike that tone. 

 

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“Katrina is one of those people who is ultra-calm and collected on the outside regardless of how many plates she might be juggling behind the scenes. it was also a budget and time-sensitive project, and Katrina not only delivered excellent quality creative, but she also delivered it on-time and with a level of organization and quality communication which gave us deep confidence throughout the process,” said Oonagh Flanagan, Chief Product & Marketing Officer for Nimble.

In the end, the commercials have been an outstanding success for Nimble, and Olsen could not be prouder.

“It’s a great feeling to know the campaign has been a success, that your blood, sweat, and tears went towards kicking a goal. During the different stages of pre-production, filming and post we felt that success as we collaborated with the Nimble and Agency teams, but to see the final results of the campaign really puts a feather in that cap,” she concluded.

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