Balancing the Grind With Tim Thatcher, TV Director & Producer at Armchair Safari Productions

Tim Thatcher is a Sydney based TV & TVC Director, Producer, Writer & Photographer. Specialising in food, travel and live productions he has worked with a range of TV shows and corporate TVC clients.

Subscribe to Balance the Grind’s newsletter so you never miss one of our conversations about work, life & balance.

1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I’m a TV Director and Producer at the production company Armchair Safari that makes mainly food and travel TV shows.

I started my TV career at Foxtel in 2000 (I was previously a Primary School Teacher) and slowly moved through the ranks to Nickelodeon where I helped created Australia’s first muppet and set up the Nick Jr Channel.

From there I went to to make shows for MTV, then travelled the world for a few years with Getaway (Nine) and eventually MasterChef Series 2 (the one Adam Liaw won). This is where I got my love of food from.

After a stint working in Development at the Ten Network, I helped created current affairs show Inside Story and realised that I wasn’t cut out for crime and food was truly my passion.

I was lucky enough to get a directing and producing role on Adam Liaw’s show Destination Flavour Down Under (SBS) and from there I created a show called Restaurant Australia (NETFLIX) for Tourism Australia and then started my company Armchair Safari where I’ve been creating, directing and producing shows for myself and others for the last 5 years.

Anna Gare’s Cab Fare (NINE) and Gourmet Farmer (SBS) with food critic and now farmer/chef Matthew Evans are some recent programs that have has success on air.

2) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

There is no such thing as a typical day for me. I never know what’s going to happen in my day to day unless we have a show in production.

I could be looking at locations, talking to the networks or working with a chef to create a show rundown, or testing recipes – or in the case of Gourmet Farmer standing in a paddock in the freezing rain trying to get a cow into a trailer.

If I’m on set directing the hours are generally 0600-1800 then with a few hours production planning after that. When we’re not making shows I generally try and get a bit of downtime walking on the beach and listening to podcasts or reading cookbooks and planning what the next show is going to be.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

There is s a lot of flexibility with my role so I try and fit exercise and sleep in where I can. I work remotely a lot and have just spent 4 weeks travelling through Georgia, Turkey and Azerbaijan to research the food and culture there for a new show I’m planning to shoot in May so there were a lot of emails and phones calls that had to be made at weird hours but it’s just part of the job.

4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?

I’ve got a paper dairy and iCal which keeps me on track and every day I put together a list with tick boxes to keep me on track. I try to respond to emails as soon as I can to keep the inbox down. It’s a pretty good feeling to get my inbox free so I attempt to get there by Friday every week.

5) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I have to take time our when I can, and I do. I’ve been know to book a holiday on a Friday for a Saturday departure after hearing of a shoot being pushed back. You have to get downtime whenever possible because there’s no way of ever really turning off when you run your own company.

6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?

Have clear and realistic goals. Once you reach that goal, set another one. I think trying to achieve an enormous goal is unrealistic. Celebrate the little wins and the day to day successes

7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

I read a lot of fiction but it’s podcasts that I find really inspiring. The podcast How I Built This has helped me through so many hard times and really made me realise that you’re not the only one going through this journey.

8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

A good breakfast. So underrated

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

You really can do anything you put your mind to. When I was 18 I was working on a farm thinking that farming was going to be the rest of my life. When I was 22 I became a school teacher in the country.

By my 30’s I was a TV Producer and now in my 40’s I’m creating my own TV shows and running a successful company. Who knows what the next chapter holds but I know it’s going to be exciting.

If you’d like to have a conversation with us about how you balance the grind, get in touch with us!

Become a Patron!

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.