24 Hours with Zig Zag Post MD Derek Allan

Derek Allan is managing director of screen industry post production house, ZigZag Post. In this 24 hours with, Derek talks wine 'research', North Sydney cycling and disposable coffee cup guilt.


My girls are on their way to school with my wife, so I grab a takeaway coffee. Mark is an electrical engineer turned barista. There’s always a conversation to be had as our daughters go to the same school. I’m feeling guilty about the non-recyclable cup after Craig Reucassel’s War on Waste.


Depending on weather and mood, I cycle or drive to work. I enjoy the ride through the city, but someone please tell North Sydney Council that bike paths shared with pedestrians, dogs, buses and trees are not actually bike paths.


Email check. We have a bunch of quotes out, a TV project I’m expecting to hear about today and I need to get back to an agency client who is briefing our composer on a music track.

Managing a small business is challenging in this rapidly evolving (read incredibly disrupted) industry. Optimism layered over a pragmatic understanding of the way things sometimes don’t work keeps me sane, more or less.


Our first post-production meeting for factual TV series Miracle Hospital for National Geographic. It’s about overcoming the odds using the latest medical technology. We’re reviewing the post schedule, followed by the style guide: how the show should look and sound. Decisions are made on colour grade, supers, graphics, composed music and sound. ZigZag is covering the lot.


It’s exciting to be in the production stage of a long-haul in-house content project. I catch up with our production manager, Axi to discuss arranging interviews with interesting, hard to access characters: getting the introductory phone calls right will take some skill.


The producer calls about that new TV series we quoted on. It’s a big job and the wheels are turning slowly at the decision-making end. A commissioning meeting has been postponed, so we wait. Not to worry, we’re playing a long game.


Sitting in with composer David Chapman to discuss the score for a TV series. David played with Icehouse for a few years and he’s the man behind the Gruen opening titles music. The track he’s working on now is for the pre-tease and needs to set the tone for the series. A lot of work goes into two and a half minutes of music. Days.


Business development is always on my mind unless I’m completely immersed in a sound mix. I find it the biggest challenge in managing a small business. But making a couple of calls to loyal clients is an enjoyable mix of personal catchups and potential opportunities to work together.


Co-founder, online editor and colourist, Rob Sarroff is grading some test shots for a new drama we’ll be working on called Patricia Moore for Cobbstar Productions. We also discuss managing three projects scheduled for delivery in the same week. I was teaching my daughter time management techniques the other day… what was that thing about urgent/important again?


Wearing my sound designer hat. David from production company Sodus and a team from agency DDB are here for a Volkswagen project. I did most of the mix yesterday, so today’s session is a final screening before we play out. A passion for sound and its wonderful ability to engage emotionally with an audience is what got me into this business in the first place. I love it.


We’ve just finished a building refurbishment and our new signs are here. Our friend and builder Pete has dropped in to install them because he’ll do a better job than us, although he needs me to hold them straight.


Our client Angela Pulvarenti is in the house to shoot product for her digital series At the Cellar for Dan Murphy’s. We’re also editing and mixing. This job definitely has some benefits, including wine consumption, I mean, education…


I’m back on my bike, riding home in the dark. No, I’m not pissed, although the bike does feel somewhat different… I have a boxing class tonight at Boxing Works in Tramsheds.


Ex-boxer/owner/trainer Larry knows his stuff. The music is pumping and it’s a chance to completely focus on hitting the bag with ‘POWER and SPEED,’ which is what Larry is yelling at the class as we all go for broke to ACDC’s Thunderstruck. After five three-minute rounds, I’m exhausted. It’s a great way to unwind at the end of the day.

Ha. Perfect. Allie has just given me my very own Boxing Works re-usable coffee cup.


It’s always tempting to stay at Tramsheds and indulge in one of the many food offerings, but tonight, I’m heading home.


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