Turning ideas into shows
Katy Harding on bending concepts into reality on the small screen
Toronto television producer Katy Harding started dabbling in film at an early age, producing her first short film at age eight — a film noir murder mystery starring her 30-pound cat.
That film led to a career in television production where Harding creates concepts, writes scripts, casts, directs and produces shows on channels such as MTV, Discovery, Food and more.
“I was a creative storyteller before I even realized what I was doing. Even as a kid it just came naturally and was something that made me really happy, and I had to do it,” she explains. “As soon as I could write and draw, I was scribbling down stories and scripts and creating crazy new characters.”
Aside from an early interest in storytelling, Harding cites the arts programs at Bishop Strachan School (BSS) as being influential to her current career path. In particular she remembers Angie Silverstein, who was head of the drama department and developed the first film program at the school.
“She [Silverstein] shaped my love of theatre and film to this day,” Harding says.
After BSS, she attended NYU Tisch School of the Arts to pursue a career in film and TV, interning a lot while in university at places such as MTV, Flare and OK
Magazine, to learn as much as possible and get a jump-start once she entered the work force. From there, things really started coming together.
“I was lucky enough to work at a few independent Toronto production companies that really let me take the reins on some pretty big projects,” she says.
Harding has since developed shows, documentaries and branded content for U.S. and Canadian channels like Bravo’s Apres Ski, HGTV’s The Expandables,
History’s Power & Ice, E!’s Hollywood Cycle and many others. “It’s truly an exciting job and every day is completely different. In one day you might be casting chefs for a cooking series, planning a shoot with a race car driver and interviewing a detective on a cold case. It really keeps you on your toes,” she says. “There is so much involved in taking a show from ideation to the screen, but the adrenaline starts pumping when you’ve got your script in hand and the cameras are finally rolling.”
Although there are many different types of producers who are all equally important in a project, Harding’s role is as a creative producer, which she describes as a hybrid of directing, producing and ideation.
“I’m writing scripts, managing talent, conducting interviews, setting up shots, liaising with the network and story editing,” she says.
When she’s not working, Harding remains happiest when she’s being creative, something she also does in her downtime, which includes writing and illustrating a line of humorous holiday cards called Barnyard Cards.
“The adrenaline starts pumping when you’ve got your script.”
Harding has produced shows for HGTV, Bravo, E! and more