Have you ever called or visited LEAP’s Hayward’s Place office? Maybe you’ve streamed one of the office playlists. Get to know the person behind the welcoming voice and curated tunes. Our latest Meet our Team interview features LEAP Front of House Manager/Producer, Arlene Niamh Dignam.
Can you tell us about who you are and what you do?
I’ve been Front of House manager for LEAP for about five years now, and I really love this role because I get to work with everybody. Every day is different, and I do all sorts of interesting things. I really like looking after my colleagues, that’s the mama lion in me.
How did you get into the advertising industry?
I’ve always been a creative person, and I knew I wanted to work in media and entertainment since I was a child. I actually applied for a job at Ardmore Studios in Ireland when I was eleven. They wrote back and told me to finish school first.
I came over to London in the 80s and studied set design and lighting at college. I then got my break into film, working as gaffer on a Mmoloki Chrystie (Grange Hill, Press Gang) film. Then, I freelanced as a lighting cameraperson and editor through the 90s and 00s. I worked at the Sci-Fi channel as a continuity and promo producer. In 2008 I got into post-production when I joined Loco, the forerunners of the Film and Post team at LEAP.
What do you enjoy most about your work in the industry?
I enjoy short-form projects. I love the variety and quick turnaround of projects. Advertising is such a fast-paced industry. It’s so exciting, and I have worked with so many brilliant and creative people over the years.
What’s the project you’re most proud of?
I am really proud of the music video I produced for my friend Sophie Barker for her song Say Goodbye. It was extremely low budget and a quick turnaround because it was going to be previewed on BBC Breakfast. Thanks to my director, Lee Bamsey and the team at Loco, it was completed, and it looks so lush.
What’s your favourite ad and why?
I love funny, quirky ads. Dougal Wilson’s Ikea ad ‘Playing with my friends‘ is probably the one that stands out for me. It was so cute and brilliantly executed. It really gets into the imagination of kids. He also has a great ear for music.
Do you have any hidden talents or hobbies?
One of my hobbies is writing poetry, and I used to perform at open mic nights. I also made music with my partner in the 90s under the band name Sleepwalker.
I find gardening or upcycling beneficial for my mental health. It really got me through lockdown.
Who or what is your inspiration?
There’s no particular person who inspires me, but I find inspiration all around me. I am an observer, and sometimes seeing random stuff or hearing snippets of conversations sends my imagination in all directions. I saw a builder do a stage pirouette on the platform at West Hampstead this morning. So random.
What’s your biggest motivation?
My greatest motivation is music. I love going to gigs and festivals to hear the latest buzz band. Reading and watching shows is how I relax in the evening these days. Of course, it’s always science fiction related.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in this field?
My best advice would be to start off in a small company and work your way up, if possible. Learn everything you can from the people you meet along the way and just keep practising your craft in whatever way time and resources allow.
Find out more about the people of LEAP in other interviews with members of our team.
The Cult of Celebrity
I really don’t get this whole cult of celebrity.
Beauty achieved through the art of surgery.
Superficiality, low or no mentality
A fashionably sized helping of public insanity.
Now where’s the rationality of that?
In this culture of whys, ifs and size zero butts?
It’s morbid curiosity to see how anorexia struts.
Meanwhile behind the scenes they’re excavating their guts,
like a production line of bulimic doughnuts.
Ooops! wrong word. that implies that they’re fat.
You see, it’s publicity that’s the oily engine of this vogue.
The ephemeral sensation of love that it invokes.
Forgetting that high is just the other side of low.
It’s the downfall that’s really the highlight of the show.
And just another paycheck for the pouncing paps.
Now the world is balanced on a reality TV fault line.
Ready to collapse in on itself, at any time.
Big Brother’s gazing down, manipulating the design.
Creating a habit that is a forfeit of a brief shelf life.
And the end of a career that has now fallen flat.
What they fail to understand is the problem with fame
Is that lack of substance cannot be maintained.
While these pop idols swan idly by and complain.
The next big thing is already being hailed as
going to be bigger than the last X factor prat.
Though I say real talent should be expressed out loud.
Today it’s producers and stylists that should feel proud.
And when fame falls from its cuckoo cloud,
the cult of celebrity will get lost in the crowds.
Then it’s time to eBay all their autographs.
Arlene Niamh Dignam