Spotlight: Margaret Hilliard, Unit Production Manager

This series of posts highlights some of our local industry talent: on-screen and behind-the-scenes, established and up-and-coming.

Margaret Hilliard has been a unit production manager for too many years to count. She is greatly interested in the entire structure of film production but found that the pre-production period is the most creative for her personally. She believes that pre-production is the building of the foundation that holds up the framework and builds the walls throughout production and then the roof goes on in post. Margaret is interested in all of the arts – film, music, theater, art, literature.

How did you initially get into the industry?

I fell into film production in New Zealand where we created an industry from the ground up. There was no infrastructure – we built our own. It was enormous fun, very creative and at times, probably quite unsafe. Those days are long gone.

It’s been 26 years since A Midnight Clear. What experience from that production stands out to you?

Making lifelong friends while working on the production and deciding to make this place my home.

Having worked all over the world, what sets Utah apart from other filming locations? 

Well actually, there was a similarity between the early New Zealand days and the making of A Midnight Clear. The “can do” attitude and sense of team playing were very special.

What advice would you give someone who is trying to get into the industry?

Reach out to every production you can; offer to work in any capacity, even possibly to intern; be prepared to start at the bottom and work very hard. Watch, listen, ask questions, be pro-active and make sure you follow through on details.

Syd Smoot is the Film Office Coordinator at the Utah Film Commission. She’s a Utah native and studied cinema studies at Northeastern University. 

For any press and media inquiries, contact the Utah Film Commission at


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