Industry Pro: Television Producer Herb Ankrom
TV producer Herb Ankrom was on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” from 2003-2008. During his tenure there, he went from Associate Producer to Family Producer to Producer and is now a very busy reality TV producer who has recently had several projects picked up.
Here are some highlights and steps on his career path in his own words:
Current position: My current position is Executive Vice-President of Produciton and Producer for DC/TV. I oversee production and development of all DC/TV productions. We are a new company with many new projects in development and our first production aired in January called “True Beauty” on ABC produced with Katalyst and Bankable productions (Aston Kutcher and Tyra Banks companies). A second season of “True Beauty” has just been ordered from ABC.
College & degree: I graduated from James Madison University with a double degree in Mass Communications and Theater.
Internship: I didn’t do any internships in college. When I graduated, I started looking for work in the entertainment industry immediately.
First job in the entertainment industry: My FIRST job was a PA (production assistant) on a few Merrill-Lynch job-training videos in NYC.
Big break: Not sure if I would call it a big break, but my first REAL job in entertainment was when I moved to LA and got a gig as the night PA on the sitcom, “Roseanne.” I would arrive at 7PM and wait for the writers to finish the script, then make 20 copies and drive through the night delivering them to the cast and producers.
Eureka moment: I think my Eureka moment actually came in college – I was originally a business major and failing miserably. I always had a love for film/TV and acting. I dropped out of college for two years and did acting. It was then I realized I didn’t enjoy auditions and lack of “control” with that career path. But I loved the biz, so I went back to school with the intent of becoming a producer.
Career path: There isn’t really a career path that I know of. I set a goal for myself to be a producer by age 35. I just pushed myself to do the very best I could on every job no matter how big or small the job was. I also made sure never to burn a bridge and keep in touch with EVERYONE. Networking is the KEY to this industry and moving forward.
Worst job in the industry: This wasn’t a bad film project, because the people I worked directly with were great and fun, but on one film the Producer was a nightmare. She was crazy and her ego certainly didn’t fit with her experience. She treated everyone with such disrespect and her actions and mouth were just trash. I don’t even know if she is working in the industry still, but I would say thank you to her- because it made me completely aware of ALL the things not to do as a producer and realize how NOT To treat others in the work place.
Best job in the industry: The best job I had to date was probably producing “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” because every week we got to change a family’s life – all along getting to do what I love: producing. Putting the power of TV to work for something positive. The most fun I had was on a film called THE BOURNE IDENTITY – where I was paid to live in Europe for 9 months! Best days in the industry were when the Emmys were given out and I went with the group representing “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”!
Best thing about your current job: The best thing about my current job is that my business partner and I are great friends and we compliment each other in the workplace really well. I want nothing but the best and happiness for her and she feels the same for me – so I am VERY blessed.
Worst thing about your current job: I can’t really think of anything. I guess when an idea Denise and I have that we feel is really cool, and it doesn’t sell – that’s a bummer. However, there is always another idea and pitch out there waiting to happen!
Brush with greatness: I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing performers like Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Selma Blair, George Clooney, Patti Labelle, and Elton John so to watch them do their thing is a real experience. But as for me – as a producer, working with Frank Marshall and Pat Crowley was also a great learning experience and I count them now as mentors and friends.
Secret of your success/advice to the newbie: I don’t know that it is a secret – but I attribute my success to two things: 1. Amazing family and friends – who support me in all that I do. At the end of the day they are more important than any project I may be involved in. 2. Always treating people – in whatever position they are in – with the same respect dignity you would hope to be treated with. One thing that always impressed me about Frank Marshall – he always had time for everyone. He is a man who has produced some of the greatest projects in recent Hollywood history and would still sit down with a PA to discuss a scene!
Next move: I find myself in a great position so I don’t know where I would go next! I think from here if I decided to, I could work as a studio executive. I can also go on producing my own projects. I currently enjoy doing both those things so for now I am in a good place.
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