Best seat in the house: Sky Austria’s Pamela Klock on sports production and getting goosebumps
By Pamela Klock, Sky Austria team lead on football and sports production
I never knew that this job existed until I found out due to a friend who suggested I should apply for a job as a backstage floor manager for a daily talk show, who said, ‘I think you’ll like it’. He was right, I loved it.
Every day, every production, every negotiation is different but at the end of the day the industry is so small and very familiar. It’s like a school trip, I love it.
Thirsty for more
I started out working on the Daily Show in Germany and as a floor manager for the HSV football matches. But that wasn’t enough; I wanted more.
I then went on to do a two-year training programme in Germany at the Ausbildungsgemeinschaft für Medienberufe (AGM) to become a proper floor manager. During those two years I had the chance to work in all kinds of different departments (news, show, sports, fiction and more) and figured that for me, it’s the fiction section or sports outside production. I can’t say why those two areas; maybe it’s the feeling of excitement to be part of something big and meaningful to people around the globe.
The sports business is a very emotional one – I still get goosebumps when I hear the Champions League anthem or the crowd singing ‘You’ll never walk alone’ – and through it everyone speaks a universal language of support and community. After finding myself in the business I got an offer to work in the sports sector, and I never left.
I worked at a production company called Plazamedia before joining the Sky family, where I did the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League production co-ordination for Sky Germany. When Sky decided to in-source the production department in Germany and Austria, my boss Monika Coupkova (my former sparring partner at Sky Deutschland) asked me to join her newly built team in Austria. It just took me a minute to decide, and I moved from Hamburg, Germany to Vienna.
Sky Austria launch
The job profile for Sky Austria was the same as my former job, but more. Now I could do it ‘on the other side’ and not just as a supplier. But the most interesting part was to go into a different country again and into a rather small company where you have the chance to get to know the project more thoroughly, as the department sizes are very small. I handle my projects from A to Z, which is a big bonus.
I think the hardest part for me was growing into the leadership role and letting go of my former daily business which had become part of my DNA. Budgets are the most challenging part of the job, but I really enjoy trusting the process! On the one hand it was hard for me to let go, but to be honest I do like it a lot. It’s great to see my colleagues developing and standing their ground. Also I enjoy being a part of something big, being a part of a complex movement to produce something that is important to people.
Biases towards women
As the TV business is still very male dominated the greatest challenge was to prove myself, every single day. Not because of my lack of knowledge or experience, just because I am a woman working in this business.
Theses biases regarding woman working in the business are there; not everywhere, not with every person but if someone is biased, it is challenging. ‘It is the sports business – what do woman know about sport? It is a job where you need to dig into technical details – what do woman know about technical stuff? Too young, too emotional, too feminine’.
Luckily, I was able to never let these edgy comments or unqualified questions get to me, however they made me work even harder.
As to advice I’d give to other women, I say, don’t listen to the naysayers, the disbelievers or the know-it-alls; just do it! Believe in yourself, be open minded and attentive, push hard and let go at the right moment. We are working where others are spending their days off, and that is fantastic.
Looking to the future
For me personally, the pandemic was like pushing a reset button to sort out myself. But after the pandemic, my feeling was that there is so much more work to do and fewer people to hire in the market. I had a tough time finding a new colleague to join my team, but now we are complete. 2023 is all about growth; helping my team to grow, help them grow into their roles, and support the business to grow.
We’ve done a few cool things over the last year. In February 2022 our new studio set-up went on air. My colleagues worked day and night to make it happen. It is a very modern studio with three giant LED walls and a very nice lean design. Other than that, we had a couple of nice steps forward in the Austrian market, like the first match in Dolby Atmos and the first use of a live first-person-view drone during a match.
“2023 is all about growth; helping my team to grow, help them grow into their roles, and support the business to grow”
The Austrian Bundesliga was the first football league worldwide to introduce a remote-controlled camera dolly onto the pitch during a live match in 2019, so we reintroduced the Agito Dolly for the championship’s celebrations in Salzburg in 2022 as well.
For me, on what has been the greatest thing I’ve worked on so far in the course of my career, I’d say every event or production was great and there are so many funny, sad, great and unbelievable stories and memories.
But I think one of my favourite stories is being part of the UEFA Champions League final in Milan in 2016. Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid were fighting for the trophy and the match was already in overtime. The atmosphere in the stadium was stunning.
I was working as a floor manager wanting to pick up my reporter for post-match interviews and went behind the left goal where she was sitting. By the time I arrived it was clear that there would be a penalty shootout towards the very goal we were standing at. Well sometimes all you need is luck; we had the best seats ever.