Published on Mommy Tracked (http://www.mommytracked.com)

Elisabeth Roberts

Elisabeth Roberts is the founder of Time Capsule Films and Itty Bitty Videos. Prior to starting her own home video production company, Elisabeth spent over 10 years producing for several national networks including ABC, VH1, MSNBC, and The Discovery Channel. Recently featured in the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle, Elisabeth reinvented herself, using the skills she developed during the course of her career into a more flexible business model. 


Time Capsule Films takes raw home movies and turns them into entertaining stories for keepsakes or to show at special events. Elisabeth lives in San Francisco with her husband and two daughters.


Check out Elisabeth Roberts's recent collaboration with Mommy Tracked, See Mom Work: What Does Your Mom Do All Day? [1] This hilarious "out of the mouths of babes" video contains interviews with young kids describing what they think their moms do at work.





Tell us about your background?


I was a story producer in broadcast television for about 10 years. I'd had some prior experience in various formats — documentaries, commercials, talk shows, film — but eventually I found my niche working on News Magazine shows. I used to describe my job as being a mini film maker. You pitch your idea, do the research, go out in the field and conduct interviews, direct the crew, write the script, and sit with an editor to put it all
together. The topics I covered varied from travel and technology to health, lifestyle, and entertainment. Eventually I learned how to shoot and edit, which made me more marketable, and also gave me more flexibility in my story pitches. I really enjoyed being a story producer because I was always learning something new. I loved the whole process of telling a story and trying to do it in
a creative, fun, and informative way.


What made you leave the glamorous life of a VH1 producer?


VH1 was a great place. The material was fun, the people were dynamic, and the focus was on creating funny packages. But living in New York had always been a one-year plan. My husband was temporarily relocated for his work and it happened to be a great place for producing opportunities, so the transition from San Francisco was easy. Most production work is on a project by project basis. It's great for variety, and there's hardly a dull
moment! However, if you're looking for something stable and predictable, it can be a challenge, to say the least. I finished up the series on which I had been working, moved back to San Francisco, and focused on my biggest project yet — the impending birth of my first child.


Do you have complete flexibility now?


Since having kids, I'm not sure I've experienced much of ANYTHING completely, but I'm certainly much closer than my days of broadcast! I have a home office which certainly allows for flexible hours, I'm the boss so I can leave early for my daughter's soccer practice, and I'm lucky in that I have enough business coming my way now that I can turn down projects if the scheduling just won't work, or if I'd rather spend the time with my family which is worth a lot to me.


Do you think you will go back to the corporate world when your kids are older?


I have a few ideas for projects that have always been in the far reaches of my mind. When the kids are in school full time I may be able to pull them out, dust them off, and pursue them. But I don't know if I'd work for a production company in the same capacity. Since I've learned to run my own business, I would probably assume a different role.


What are the biggest rewards and biggest challenges of running your own business?


The biggest reward is being my own boss, and taking ownership. The biggest challenge would be taking ownership! If my computers fail, if there's client miscommunication, or deadlines aren't met, it all falls on my shoulders. I've had to find those support
systems that one takes for granted when one works in a larger business/office. And often times, it's trial by fire.


Any tips for women contemplating starting their own business?


A long time ago I worked on a show with Soledad O'Brien in San Francisco called The Site, for MSNBC. Soledad was going to London for some other business and they wanted to send a producer along to cover some stories with her for The Site. I wanted to pitch myself but I was newer to the crew and a little intimidated. Soledad took me aside and told me if I wanted something, I just needed to put myself out there, and she told me not to be afraid to show some confidence. I organized my thoughts, pitched my
stories, and stepped up and got the assignment.


I think if you're starting a business, it's really important to be confident in your ideas, WHATEVER they may be. You can't be dismissive. If you can't take your business seriously, how will anyone else? A business plan is also crucial. It makes you think about your business idea in a realistic way:what are your goals? What systems do you have to implement in order to get there? How will
you create an interest in your product/services? Finally, never underestimate the skills you have honed if you have children, they will serve you well when building a business: being able to mentally focus when there are multiple dialogues going on around you, adapting to a changing environment, catering to various needs of sometimes picky clients, and let's face it, doing a
lot more having a lot less sleep.




If you liked our Working Mom interview with video producer and entrepreneur Elisabeth Roberts, check out our chats with actress and director Melanie Mayron [1] and The Business of Being Born producer Ricki Lake [1].



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