It seems almost crazy to think that Marnie Sirota, esteemed Executive in Charge of Production and a leader in the British television industry, was once studying to be a junior high school teacher, thinking her dream of working in television was simply a fantasy. Now, with over twenty years in the industry and her name attached to internationally celebrated shows, Sirota is living her childhood dream each and every day.
Born and raised in Woodside Park in North London, Sirota was attracted to the world of entertainment from a young age. In the sixties, her mother Linda was in TV & film production at a company called Rediffusion London. As a child, they regularly talked about her passion with the TV industry and her role within it. Her career and love for the industry sparked an interest in Sirota that has never wavered.
As she grew and went through her teenage years, Sirota decided to pursue teaching, opting for a more practical career path. However, she knew upon leaving university that it wasn’t her passion, and decided to try her hand in television. She quickly got an internship at Desmond Wilcox Productions, a British production company that specialized in specialist factual documentaries for BBC, Discovery and Channel 4 as well as a shiny floor entertainment series for ITV, and has never looked back.
“No working day or individual production is ever the same. I have the opportunity to meet, manage and work with big and small crews, have to problem solve and pivot constantly, which I thrive from. I find the challenges of the job endlessly exhilarating and on one day, I could be sourcing a power supply on an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean and the next day, I could be arranging access to a death row prison in Texas,” Sirota described.
As an Executive in Charge of Production, Sirota specializes in the creation and implementation of non-scripted TV budgets and schedules to network, cable & SVOD broadcasters. She spearheads the show, working closely and collaboratively with the Executive Producer, Showrunner, Network Creatives and Production Management. Creating a workable schedule and budget for the pilot or series, which has been developed by the creative team. It is an immensely challenging job with a tremendous amount of responsibility. Managing all the production planning, overall scheduling and budgeting including creating approved cash flows, tracking spends, reporting to the network and ensuring the production maintains its margins and being responsible for increasing company profits whilst assisting with preserving high quality production values. Despite this long list of responsibilities, it is a position Sirota not only loves, but excels in.
“I have to take our Development team’s sometimes outrageous but incredibly creative ideas and turn them into a reality. That reality might take place on a tropical desert island, in a Downton Abbey style English castle or 5,000 miles away on the other side of the world. All the while I have to manage the budget and ensure the safety and well-being of hundreds of crew and cast,” she said.
Sirota spent the beginning years of her career at ITV, one of Britain’s largest networks, working on a wide range of studio, location and live programming including the first series of Hell’s Kitchen and I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! She then worked on the British and Ireland’s version of the iconic Top Model franchise at Thumbs Up Productions before joining Endemol Shine UK in 2010 to oversee the Channel 5 relaunch of Big Brother and Celebrity Big Brother and subsequently led production on ITV’s game show Prize Island. Once moving to the United States, Sirota saw great international success, working on well-known hits like Fox’s documentary special Megan Markle: An American Princess, Food Network’s Emmy-Award winning Barefoot Contessa, Fox’s Ultimate Tag, and many more. Her most recent hit, Netflix’s I Am A Killer, was the second most watched series on Netflix USA in the Summer of 2020, and the second most watched series on Netflix UK for both January and February 2021.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to visit some extraordinary countries with my job and have spent time on location with groups of remarkable local talent. I’ve had the privilege of experiencing how other territories run production which has enriched my growth in the industry. I love the excitement of seamlessly relocating hundreds of people from one side of the globe to another and operating as if the production was a ‘local’ shoot,” she said.
Currently, Sirota is working to grow Znak & Co, the Transatlantic company with offices in Los Angeles and London, which she runs, into something much larger. Under her leadership, they have grown from a small, fledgling company to well-respected, booming multi-million dollar turnover business, and it’s only the beginning.
Keep an eye out for Marnie Sirota’s name attached to your favorite television shows for years to come.