Film premieres, day care runs and business meetings from nine ‘til noon are all part of a normal day for movie marketing mogul and hands-on mum (and my ex-boss) Adria Buckton.
Shuffling through the door with a tray of coffees for the team, a stack of film discs under her arm, and chatting in a fast yet attentive voice to her daughter’s pre-school teacher is standard office entry for Adria Buckton. This brief moment perfectly reflects her commitment to the things she holds most important; her staff, her business, and her young family. Coffee too, of course. The office she is entering is that of Trigger, a successful boutique marketing and publicity agency based in Auckland that Adria has created from scratch.
That scratch started almost ten years ago, when Adria – Adi to friends and family – launched the business part-time in late 2005. More than a little has changed since, and having just celebrated her fortieth birthday, Adria can hardly believe a quarter of her life has been spent managing Trigger. “It was very organic growth from inception” she reflects. “I started Trigger after being made redundant from a job that I loved. My first client was the company that made me redundant and since then, I haven’t looked back.” From a small start-up, Trigger has grown to manage the releases for a number of overseas-based independent film companies within New Zealand. Perhaps more exciting, is what Trigger has done in the local industry, including extensive work on what became arguably the country’s most successful film, 2010 smash hit Boy. Work like this has earned Trigger a reputation as the "go-to" marketing company for film in New Zealand. “I love this affirmation” Adria says with pride. It is not hard to sense the love she has for her work.
Adria loves working on New Zealand films, and last year worked on two films with Boy star James Rolleston, including The Dead Lands (above).
As she talks about both her professional and personal life, the two overlap, becoming one very full, very satisfying life she has built for herself. Adria is one of those people who has absolutely conquered the parent-slash-businesswoman-to-be-reckoned-with life; a movement becoming evermore achievable thanks to women like Sheryl Sandberg and, on a smaller scale, Adria Buckton. “To my mind, humans are equals and should always be treated as such.” Despite acknowledging the media chatter around gender inequality in the industry - think the salary gap scandal at Sony - Adria’s own experience in the world of film and business has been one of respect. “I don’t think clients are looking at my gender at all when they come to me to discuss a project, and really... why should they?”
Does this mean she doesn’t get caught up in the infectious sense of sisterhood between women in business? Not quite. “I do have to confess to giving a little fist punch when I see fellow women starting their own business or following their dreams and also raising a family. It is hard being a mum and a business manager, and I guess there will always be comradery amongst females, won’t there? But I don’t want to say I wouldn’t fist pump one of my male friends starting a business. I guess it is a friendly rivalry with men, and a genuine knowledge as a female how hard it is to be a mum in business that perhaps makes me give this other female a virtual high five.”
Gender inequality in the business of film is still an issue, as exposed by the Sony email hack in December, revealing Jennifer Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars for American Hustle
Adria considers herself to be "living the dream" and looking at her in action – performing mother and boss duties simultaneously – it is hard to imagine a time she didn’t master the challenges of such a life, but it wasn’t always an easy road. At home, she and “long-suffering" husband, Andrew, are proud parents to Jacob (4) and Olivia (2), but endured several brutal years’ IVF treatment and devastatingly losing their firstborn, Hope, before these two came into their lives. Throughout, Adria managed her business. Was there ever a time she wanted to throw in the towel? “Not once. I am not a quitter. I have once been driven to tears in the early days, but if things ever get heated in a meeting now, I can always laugh about it afterwards. Life is too short.”
Adria with her son Jacob, now 4
One does not need long to appreciate the incredible strength of character that shapes everything Adria does. She recognises a definite fear of failure in driving her, and attributes the discipline instilled by ballet in her younger years for her self-responsibility. She credits her parents, who she describes as “utterly good and very real people,” and praises her staff in aiding her business' success. “My staff are Trigger. They are who I look after first, then our clients. They will not get the service I aspire to if my staff aren’t happy.” Looking around the office, it is not hard to see this philosophy works.
A glass of wine and boquet of flowers to thanks the team for a job well done on opening day of Kiwi film The Dark Horse
Now it is time for Adria to enjoy the life she has set up for herself. “I feel equipped for the new decade and what it brings.” She wants to enjoy time with her retiring parents, adding, “How amazing to be able to sit back and enjoy long days with them watching my kids play.” She and Andrew also have a long-held plan of taking a year to live in Italy, positioning themselves in a country town while the kids are young and Adria can fulfil her dream of “being able to cook like an Italian Nonna.” As for Trigger, the options are endless, and one gets the feeling things are only going to get better.
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