Taking inspiration: Combining a passion for sport and media with Sunset+Vine junior production manager Grace Binnie

Sunset+Vine Junior Production Manager Grace Binnie (centre) and the team at Rangers FC’s Ibrox stadium

Grace Binnie, junior production manager at Sunset+Vine, started her journey towards sports broadcasting as a child in Athens watching the athletics at the 2004 Olympic Games. That moment inspired her, and today she is powering along the live production career path.

What drew you to a career in live sport?

The excitement of the live sports coverage itself, but also the stability of it, as people will always watch sport. Football fans will always want to watch their team play week in, week out and with new interest in sports – such as darts and women’s football – increasing, it is exciting to be a part of.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve worked on in the course of your career? Why?

Working on the Men’s UEFA European final 2021 in Seville – Rangers versus Eintracht Frankfurt – was an amazing experience. After the results of the semi-final, we only had a few weeks to plan and organise the logistics of the final being an outside broadcast in Spain, which meant it was an extremely busy time – but exciting – with everyone working hard. Then getting out to the final and being able to watch the game take place was extremely rewarding – and impressive – to see the whole city shut down due to football fans going to watch a game that we were in charge of.

How did you first find out about TV broadcasting as a career? What was your inspiration and why sports broadcasting?

My earliest inspiration for live sports was going to the Olympic Games in Athens as a kid and watching the athletics. I was taken away by the excitement and thrill of the empowering athletes and passionate crowd, I knew I wanted to be part of sharing this amazing atmosphere. I first became interested in TV broadcasting as a career during the sixth form whilst taking media studies, a class I really enjoyed and seemed to do really well in. I have always enjoyed taking part in sports and attending live sporting events, so the thought of combining both passions seemed right.

Grace Binnie, Junior Production Manager at Sunset+Vine

What has been your career path within TV?

During my time at sixth form college, I volunteered at a local multimedia company called Cotswolds TV on my days off, to gain some hands-on experience and take my first step in the door. When I finished school, I decided not to go to university and aimed for gaining work experience in the industry instead. A year later I got accepted onto Channel 4’s Trainee Production Scheme for a year whilst working in London for Love Productions, a factual entertainment and documentary production company. I then stayed on as a casting researcher working on the Great British Bake Off before it moved to Channel 4.

Following a couple of years at Love Productions, I worked as a freelance researcher on several factual entertainment and documentaries such as Crimewatch, and Eat Well for Less. However, I much preferred the idea of working in live sports and so started to make the move across genres. Not long after COVID, in 2021 I got a job working for Vinco, an athletics streaming company, in production management, whilst working for BBC Scotland on their Scottish Women’s Premier League (SWPL) football highlights show. At the start of 2022 I joined Sunset+Vine as a production coordinator in their Scotland office, working on their BT Sport coverage of European matches, including trips to Seville for the UEFA European Final, and Naples for the UEFA Champions League, as well as going down to Birmingham to work on the Commonwealth Games. I have since moved into a junior production management role, looking after our BBC Alba Sports coverage.

Tell us about your work and your current role at Sunset+Vine.

I had been looking for production roles within sports broadcasting for a while and trying to create contacts with people in the industry. I took part in a mentoring programme for a year with ScreenSkills and was partnered up with the amazing Melissa Dyer, a senior producer and VT co-ord. I wanted to work in sports broadcasting, and she wanted to help get more women in to sports broadcasting, so it was a perfect match!

Over the course of the year, we had monthly meet-ups over Zoom and she organised meetings with other professionals in the industry, to introduce myself, ask questions and help guide me in a move into sports broadcasting. Through Melissa, I had made a couple of contacts with some employees at Sunset+Vine Scotland. Nearly a year later, a Sunset+Vine employee reached out to me regarding a production coordinator role for their Scotland BT Sport contract. The role seemed like a perfect opportunity as it was based in Glasgow and working on UEFA’s Scotland football matches, such as the European and Champions League which I followed. I then reached out to the PM, applied for the role, and the rest is history.

“I think the biggest challenge has been trying to get my foot in the door, whether that be my first job in TV or moving over to sports. The industry is a very tight-knit community and has financial pressures that often mean job roles are combined, meaning that you need to have numerous job skills to shine through.”

During my time at Sunset+Vine, I have been promoted to junior production manager, which has been a fantastic step up to challenge myself. I have massively enjoyed my time at Sunset+Vine over the past couple of years and I love working on live sport coverage. I find the live element is thrilling to be a part of, and the diversity of sports we cover are exciting to watch; I enjoy helping to promote the less well-known sports, such as shinty.

My specific role is challenging with a new obstacle each day yet rewarding and fun. Sunset+Vine is great at providing opportunities outside my typical job role and contract, such as working on the Commonwealth Games. I feel lucky with the diversity of my job and workforce.

What obstacles have you faced throughout your career and how did you get you overcome them?

I think the biggest challenge has been trying to get my foot in the door, whether that be my first job in TV or moving over to sports. The industry is a very tight-knit community and has financial pressures that often mean more than one job role is squeezed into one, where you need to have numerous job skills to shine through as you are up against a lot of other candidates.
I found being persistent in networking with people in the industry, taking on smaller freelancer work within sports to gain my experience within the genre, and being open-minded to new job roles outside of my comfort zone, helped me get my first job with Sunset+Vine now.

Sunset+Vine’s Grace Binnie working on Raise the Roof

What’s the most challenging thing about working in live sport today, or generally, and why?

Trying to be creative with new ideas on how to cover a certain sport or growing sport, to attract a bigger audience, but balancing that with tight budgets. You want to provide the best coverage but must really think outside the box on how to deliver certain ideas.

What do you think has been a particularly exciting or cutting-edge thing in sports broadcasting that you think your company or any of your sports clients have done in order to bring live sport back, and why?

Seeing the popularity and standard of the Women’s Super League in England skyrocket over the last few years has been amazing, and I believe a massive part of this is due to the live coverage of the League, but also the latest Woman’s World Cup and Euros on the BBC, with its high-quality production standards and pundits joining the screen.
Similarly at Sunset+Vine, we are trying to create the same momentum here to grow the SWPL in Scotland. We are aiming to produce high quality coverage of Scottish Woman’s football and bring the excitement of the title race to the telly.

What advice would you give to other women looking to move into a role in sports broadcasting like your own?

Be persistent at applying for jobs, strike up new contacts with professionals in the industry, gain work experience, even if it is for free, or you believe to be below your skillset, and have confidence in your own ability, sports knowledge and individuality.

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