Live-Event Producer Melanie Fletcher: Make It Special

05/19/2015 10:06 am ET | Updated May 19, 2016

Melanie Fletcher is one of the world's most respected and busiest live-event producers. In addition to the upcoming (May 21) "Red Nose Day" fundraiser on NBC, she and her partners at London-based Done + Dusted have produced such highly watched programming as the 2012 London Olympics Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Her other credits include "The Rolling Stones Bigger Bang" television special and Adele's Royal Albert Hall special for the BBC.

The variety and importance of the events you've produced is impressive. Why do you think you're so good at what you do?

Thank you but the answer really is that I love what I do. The key to doing anything well is to love it. When you invest all you have in it, you give it your best. That's what I get to do everyday so I consider myself fortunate.

2015-05-18-1431974217-3542710-Melanie_Fletcher.jpgThe work we do is always evolving. It's never boring. You're not doing the same thing twice because in this business you can't do the same thing twice. If you do, you've failed.

You need to be creative every day and at the same time be organized and technical. It means the left and right sides of your brain are forever engaged. It keeps you on your toes and interested.

With something on the scale of an Olympics Opening Ceremony there must have been an especially large number of conflicting voices and politics and needs to heed. Was it more difficult to get decisions made in that situation?

Absolutely. The sheer number of people required to make that happen is immense. There must have been 50 or 60 people in every production meeting and that can make it hard to find democracy. It's just hard to get decisions made and to get things done because everyone has an opinion, and an experienced one, so you need to take in what people are saying. But you also have to find ways to cut through that and pull the trigger on a decision, good or bad, to get things moving. Otherwise you'll just go round in circles forever.

What was lucky at the [2012] Olympics was that we had Danny Boyle [who directed the opening ceremonies] and Hamish [Hamilton, Done + Dusted director/executive producer] and they're strong decision makers. They didn't allow for too much consideration from everybody else. If they wanted something, that was what we had to do. There were a few times where health and safety and other considerations prevented us from doing exactly what had been dreamed up. It's always hard when you have to accept that.

Having the Queen jump out of a plane wasn't the easiest thing to get done!

What was your reaction when you heard that idea?

Just that it would never happen. Great idea--but not going to happen! Danny said he was going to go to Buckingham Palace and talk to the Queen about it and that's just what he did. A week later we were arranging it.

What skill required for your profession have you had to work at improving?

I definitely think that large meeting environments where you're presenting your plans, creative or otherwise, was something I've had to work long and hard at. It's not just about being nervous. It's about learning to be concise and engaging at the same time, getting across the information you want others to have quickly and efficiently, and in the way you want them to understand it. That's taken the longest time to perfect.

I think I've been good at convincing people to do things they might not otherwise want to do. That's a skill that's been beneficial in my role because it might be the fire marshal or the creative director I'm addressing. There's a breadth of people you have to talk to, make them like you and make them agree with you to get things done cheaply and quickly. That's something that I feel I've been fortunate to have on my side since I was quite young.

I'm sure you're asked how to get into your business, event production isn't taught at a university, so how did you get into this business?

My "university" was MTV. I was lucky to have a time there. I'd been in the business early but in very junior roles. I started at MTV Australia when it first began [in 1996]. There were a bunch of Americans involved in MTV Australia. Then they went back to America and offered me opportunities there. I went to the States and worked on the MTV Awards show and then eventually I moved on to London, where we started Done + Dusted. Luckily it did well in the States so I've managed to work in both countries.

Who is easiest to work with: athletes, rock stars or lingerie models?

Well, I've always been a great lover of music and that was originally why I wanted to get into the music industry. That industry has since morphed into the awards-show industry. But still today when I get to meet my heroes in the music world it's a huge buzz. You've heard their song; you bought their album; your kids are listening to the album and singing along and there you are, sitting with them in a room, talking to them about their songs. It will never get old. On top of that, I get to produce something that's very special to them. It's a great feeling.