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Make sure that at the end of the day you end up laughing – Interview with Agnes Batllori production manager & mom

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Agnes Batllori is a production manager in the film industry, relocating from Barcelona, Cataluna to London for work and then again to Delft the Netherlands for love, where she became a mom and now looks for the next challenge. Here, we had the chance to talk with Agnes about career choice, relocation, motherhood and more.

Ildikó on behalf of MissCareerLess: How did the idea come to you, making a career in the movie industry?

Agnes Batllori: In high school I had no idea what to study or how to proceed – like the most of us. So my family gave me the opportunity to take a year off and go abroad to Ireland to find myself and my passion. I knew it would have to do something with communication because that was something that moved me very early on. I was inventing radio programs when I was young and interviewed my sisters and friends in my car – which was basically my “radio station”.

“Although I was okay with London (after all a lot of happy kids growing up there too), my husband got an opportunity here in Delft, and I’ve just let myself be convinced to follow him here”.

 

MCL: What happened after a year abroad, could you decide then?

AB: After a year in Ireland I returned to Barcelona but still had little idea about what to do next. So I started with a two-year program of audiovisual production. That was an eye-opener for me. I’ve been happy as I’ve never been for going to school. I did internships with a lot of different companies, two different TV-stations, and the Film Commission, which is an organization that receives all the requests from people who want to film in the city of Barcelona. That was a very nice training for me as well.

MCL: Did you want to deepen your studies after all that hands-on type of learning or did you go for a job?

AB: When I finished my studies and internships, I decided to move forward to university and go for journalism to cover theory better, as the practical bits I’ve covered very well already.

Then I’ve met my future husband at an international party in late 2005 when I was visiting my youngest sister in Portugal. He was from the Netherlands and studied on Erasmus just like my sister.

During the time I’ve attended the University – which was already challenging – I’ve also received my first job that was a big movie production, and I thought – very naively – that I’d combine them both.

That was, of course, impossible. Being the production manager means you are on call 24/7, and university studies were demanding enough so at the end of year three I’ve decided to move my career forward and finish my studies at a later date.

Then I’ve been hired for another production to work in London for Media Pro, and we did a movie called “El somni” or “The dream.” So I was living between Barcelona and London, commuting during the week by plane and going home to London for the weekends. It was not easy, but it was doable.

When that production ended, I was looking forward to having a break. We were planning to start a family too. So when I got pregnant kind of quickly, we’ve figured it would be good to relocate – yet again – to a country where at least one of us is at home. Having, at least, one set of grandparents to help with our little one was on our minds at that time. Although I was okay with London (after all a lot of happy kids growing up there too), my husband got an opportunity here in Delft, and I’ve just let myself be convinced to follow him here.

MCL: Was that going well, moving to yet another country?

AB: Unfortunately that change wasn’t going smooth at all. We’ve moved first to Dordrecht because it seemed impossible to find a house for rent in Delft. I was seven months pregnant when we moved to Delft. First off we had an apartment on the central marketplace which was way too noisy, and we couldn’t sleep. Then we moved yet again, to another part of town. It was very intense because we moved on a weekend and in three days I had my baby.

“I was just so stressed out to find a job, that even when people asked me nicely and with all the goodwill ‘do you have a job yet?’ – I’d explode.”

MCL: Was becoming a mother a big change for you?

AB: Becoming a mother is huge. And I was convinced I can work while I’m pregnant, and the baby can go to daycare, and I can combine work and baby without a problem. However, that’s not entirely how it worked out for me. In the Netherlands for the daycare part to work, you need a job first. Daycare is very expensive and getting a discount on it by the tax office is a bureaucratic process and very difficult for a foreigner. I also couldn’t apply for jobs because I couldn’t put my baby anywhere. My in-laws turned out to be living on the other side of the country (a 3-hour drive away), so they were not as reliable for help as I’ve imagined before.

I had totally different expectations from what actually was waiting for me, and that caused all that sorrow. If I had known that I’d be a stay at home mom, I would have taken it a lot easier. I was just so stressed out to find a job, that even when people asked me nicely and with all the goodwill ‘do you have a job yet?’ – I’d explode.

MCL: How did you deal with having a baby all alone in a different country? Was there anywhere you could turn to, to find friends?

AB: Although I was a member of DelftMaMa, which is a great group for international mothers in Delft, I’ve never dared to go to the meetings. I followed what was happening mainly on-line, on the Facebook group and alike. When my son was 3-4 months old the doctor – where he got his check-ups – told me to get him to meet other kids and let him socialize. That was the final push to go out and try to make the best of the situation.

However, I was really not up for it at the time. I was so cross with the country. I felt very unwelcome after all that’s been happening. But from that moment on we were out and made real friends in the process. Now I can’t push the buggy out the door to go to the closest shop without waving my hand at every corner to someone. It makes all the difference, having familiar, friendly faces around. Although I’m still not sure if this is the place for me, it does feel a lot more like home to me now.

MCL: What is Motherhood for you?

AB:  I find motherhood challenging because all the while it’s a fantastic ride, and wouldn’t give it up for the world, I’m also wondering what to do next, for myself. I have this huge brain full of ideas, all that potential and then… I get to fold laundry. Run around taking care of a snotty toddler. Between four walls. It’s been challenging.

MCL: What do you see for yourself when you look into the future?

AB: I love writing, I am a ghost-writer already, and I’d like to combine that with some work in advertising. I’d like to create slogans and campaigns for projects and messages that matter to me: like inclusion, refugees, people without shelters.

MCL: What would you say to women who are stuck and are afraid of change?

AB: If you ask me about the relocation: the most things expats complain about day to day I don’t even notice. I don’t miss home that much: I talk to my family often, they come over every now and then and my old friends are just a WhatsApp away, so I don’t miss them that much. The weather? You can’t change that, so why even bother? Your butts get wet from all that cycling and rain? Just deal with it!

Seriously, though: change, I thought was always for the better. Now I just want to make it work, so even if it’s difficult, and you feel like it’s not going the way you imagined: make sure that at the end of the day you end up laughing about where you are, no matter how challenging it seems.

 

 

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