Perfect half term viewing from Ollie Wright and the team at 5. Bring on the wine…
Perfect half term viewing from Ollie Wright and the team at 5. Bring on the wine…
For Sama transmits on Channel 4 on Saturday 26th October at 9pm.
Read Back to Work Winner Laura Martin-Robinson’s blog from Edinburgh as she watched the film’s UK premier.
Sometimes life throws a lot of things at you all at once and pushes you into fight or flight mode, making you completely readdress what you want to do writes PC Clare Lawrence. This happened to me last year and, always the fighter, I made the conscious decision to pivot into TV. I have long wanted to work in TV but had told myself that it was too late for me and that I couldn’t afford to begin as a runner with bills to pay and children to feed – it was time to change the story! Ahead of Media Parents’ Bristol event in November, read about Clare’s success in finding work in Bristol c/o Media Parents.
I’d worked as a freelance stills photographer for nine years with a lot of success and prior to that as a self-shooting researcher for a commercial agency, I knew I had a host of transferable skills with which to enter the industry, but no actual TV experience – yet! After working solo for so long, I also missed being part of a creative team and knew this was the right move to make.
Being a complete outsider and knowing no-one in the industry at the time, I did some research and attended a couple of Bristol networking events, feeling very green and like a fish out of water. I attended a Media Parents networking event and after meeting Amy Walker also began working for Media Parents in January 2019. For Media Parents I look after all the Bristol / Cardiff and more recently London positions that are advertised and manage the social media accounts, as well as helping to run the Bristol events. This has given me a perspective into the different routes in TV and communicate with a lot of Talent Managers and freelancers. Amy also helped me to redo my CV and it wasn’t long before I secured my first role as a Production Coordinator for Mustang Films.
Nine months later I have three good Production Coordinator credits under my belt; a presenter-led arts series for BBC World News ‘China’s Greatest Treasures’, BBC2 series ‘In search of Dracula’ presented by Mark Gatiss and a fun Channel 5 series ‘Driving Mum and Dad Crazy’. As I didn’t start as a runner, I have had to learn a lot of the jargon very quickly and there have been a lot of ‘in at the deep-end’ moments, but very quickly I have immersed myself into the roles and people have been surprised when they have learned I am fairly new to TV. Knowing a lot of the technical side of things has definitely helped me along the way and a nuance for how to run a business, having run my own for so long. Like any good PC – enjoying a colour-coded spreadsheet is a definite plus!
It is encouraging that in my mid-30s it is not too late to change career and that being highly motivated and applying yourself will take you anywhere. Attending networking events has been invaluable as has the mentoring I have received from Media Parents Amy Walker and informally from others in the industry. It is also thanks to production companies willing to think outside the box and be open to my transferable skills that I have come so far, so quickly.
As a single Mum of two children, working in production is the right balance of creativity and logistics within a relatively standard working week. I will always be a creative person and pursue photography in my own time; in production I feel part of a bigger picture and look forward to working my way up the production path. I’m excited to be starting a new PC position in October at Outline Productions for BBC2 until the end of Spring, which I found through Media Parents. I met Outline for the first time at a Media Parents networking event in Bristol, which Isa Snow Campbell also attended, so it pays to get out there…
The night before Edinburgh TV Festival I found out someone in my family had been evicted from supported accommodation and was sleeping on the street, writes PD Laura Martin-Robinson. They’ve struggled with mental illness for years and it’s happened before – but it’s still terrifying and heartbreaking every time. So on Wednesday at 5am when I whispered goodbye to my sleeping kids and got the plane to Edinburgh for Media Parents Back to Work Scheme, facing the entire TV industry for the first time since I became a mum was the last thing I wanted to do.
I arrived at the venue and began with a Media Parents networking session with Amy Walker. As I introduced myself I started crying. I blamed it on crappy mascara. As soon as we finished, Amy sent encouraging messages, and we had been introduced over email to useful delegates so we set about meeting people and engaging with the TV Festival Sessions.
At The Making of a Mega Doc a clip from ‘For Sama’ was shown (For Sama transmits on Channel 4 on Saturday 26th October). Directed by Waad al-Kateaba, a Syrian woman, bombs are falling around her as she gives birth. Executive producer Nevine Mabro talked about why a war film from the perspective of a woman and mother was ground-breaking.
Next up 1-2-1’s with Donna Taberer, Head of BBC Talent and Clare Sillery, Head of BBC Documentaries organised through the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme. Both were encouraging and had suggestions about next steps. Donna told me about the Screenskills Series producer programme which sounded right up my street.
Dorothy Byrne was someone I didn’t know much about but by the end of her MacTaggart Lecture I’d fallen in love. She was powerful, commanding and hilarious. Taking on diversity, bastard bosses and political leaders refusing to engage with the press she said. “In evil regimes the first thing they do is arrest or kill the journalists…what’s happening here is they are trying to ignore us”.
Day 2 Duty of Care. Jeff Brazier – Jade Goody’s ex-partner – was a great choice for the panel but it was disappointing there were no casting APs talking about the pressure from the top to ‘cast good characters’.
At the evening drinks I chatted to the talent scheme delegates. I was impressed by how much more representative this new generation of TV felt in comparison to when I started out. 29 out of 30 of the Ones to Watch scheme were women.
Day 3 Edinburgh does the Call Centre was surprisingly moving. Sexual harassment, mental health and industry culture was discussed. Fatima Salaria was honest and brave, talking about the toll work had taken and the importance of female networks.
It had been a tough start to the festival but hearing the voice of these senior women in my industry who’d been through their own crises and still making amazing work I felt braver and stronger.
Being a woman, a mother and having other caring responsibilities (as women often do) can take over and stretch women to their limits. And freelance TV culture can be a punishing place to be stretched. We end up losing so many of these female voices, especially at the top.
After the festival Dorothy Byrne tweeted about the messages thanking her for speaking up about women’s issues. I was one of them, Media Parents another. While I know there’s still a long way to go before our industry becomes more equal – I felt like the conversations in Edinburgh were an empowering start.
Laura is kindly being mentored by BBC Commissioning Editor for Documentaries, Emma Loach. Follow her progress here. Huge thanks to Hat Trick who supported Laura’s trip to Edinburgh on the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme this year, and for the support from the TV Foundation, which runs The Edinburgh TV Festival.
We are delighted to announce that Kim Shillinglaw will be mentoring returning Casting Producer Joanna Gretton on the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme. Joanna first saw Kim via the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme at Edinburgh TV Festival, we are grateful to Kim and Endemol Shine for their continued support for the scheme. Follow Joanna’s progress on this blog.
Kim Shillinglaw became Director of Factual at Endemol Shine in September 2016. She is the strategic lead for factual programming across the group, and has led the growth of production companies Dragonfly, Dragonfly West, DSP, Tigress and Workerbee, producers of award winning programmes for C4, BBC, ITV, Netflix, Quibi, National Geographic and many others.
Prior to joining Endemol Shine, Kim was Controller of BBC Two and BBC Four responsible for bringing younger audiences and a more contemporary flavour to the channels with shows like the award winning Muslims Like Us, Real Marigold Hotel, Exodus, Hospital, Employable Me, Inside The Factory, American Crime Story and The Super Rich Season as well as other acclaimed shows such as Mum, Wolf Hall, and Charles III.
Previously, Kim was in commissioning for many years. As Head of Commissioning for Science and Natural History she significantly increased the number of hours and her output was acclaimed as ‘a golden age for science on television’, with shows including Stargazing Live, Trust Me I’m A Doctor and The Young Ones, dramas such as the RTS-winning Challenger, the BAFTA-winning Frozen Planet, Wonders of the Solar System and Planet Earth II. She also commissioned the acclaimed Blue Planet II. Prior to this Kim was an Entertainment Commissioner at CBBC, where she created the first series of multi award winning comedy Horrible Histories, and worked as a programme maker in documentaries and current affairs.
She is a trustee of Raspberry PI and former trustee of Nesta, and has served on committees and panels for DCMS, the Royal Society, BBC, Science Museum and many others.
Joanna has been working with Media Parents for three years, helping other talent find gigs and return to TV so now it’s her time. Prior to working for Media Parents Joanna was a PD and caster on documentaries and cast celebrities for royal obituaries. Thanks to Media Parents’ Flexible Working Event Joanna has met one job share partner and is looking for more potential job shares as she makes her way back into part time work. Raw TV supported Joanna’s Edinburgh Festival trip, and Endemol Shine will support her mentoring.
Huge thanks to Hat Trick and Raw for making the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme possible this year, and for the support from the TV Foundation, which runs The Edinburgh TV Festival.
Contact Joanna Gretton here: Casting Producer Joanna Gretton
At Media Parents’ recent Back to Work Drinks, SP / Exec Jonathan Schütz shared that he had recently worked from home on a Nat Geo production. Here he explains how…
Four times a week I haul myself out of bed at stupid-o’clock to get my 3-year-old son up, wash him, give him his banana and get him to nursery, writes SP Jonathan Schütz. And then at 5pm repeat in reverse. So does it make sense to be working somewhere across London, with around 3 hours commute, allowing a maximum 6-hour working day?
I’m an experienced specialist factual series producer and EP, and a series of accidents has led me to making most of my programmes these days in/about/for East and South East Asia. Square that commute with the nursery run!
Fortunately, over the winter, I had the opportunity to work in a different way. Nat Geo Asia offered me a reversioning job: turn a made-in-China 6 x 30’ series about a holy mountain into an international standard 2 x 1hr. It didn’t hurt that I’ve actually been to that very mountain!
So how to do this in an efficient, affordable way? The answer was black boxes. I bought a load of black boxes. One was a new computer, with a whizzy video card. Another was a server, another a NAS, a network switch, a UPS. And a big new monitor. Set it all up in the spare bedroom, install Resolve (free!) and lo and behold, an edit suite!
With 13TB of material spread across 16,500 clips, and all the labelling in Chinese, it took a month of sorting to get on top of it all. After that, I engaged a script-writer (me) and an offline editor (me), a PM (me), and a Taiwanese AP (not me) to help with translations and communications. And then everything proceeded as normal, just with snail’s-pace approval times as the Chinese production company (and various government departments) also had a say.
This back-bedroom production set-up’s not for the faint-hearted. If anything goes wrong, you’re on your own. So I backed up everything, all the time. Onto the server. Onto local drives. Onto a remote server, and then another remote back-up server. If my house burnt down and the server centre blew up, this project would still be standing.
But the joy was that I could set my own hours. Start after nursery drop-off? Easy. Put in an extra hour after bath-and-story-time? No problem. A couple of snatched hours over the weekend? Why not? Mid-day nap with my face on the keyboard? OK, then.
That said, I could do many things in that bedroom, but finishing wasn’t one of them. So that all got done by people who know what they’re doing (thanks, Clear Cut!).
Now the series is waiting for Nat Geo’s legal department to finish doing its stuff. In the not-too-distant future, the world will get to see Laoshan, China’s Holy Mountain. If you spot it, tune in – and see what you can get done in the back room while your offspring snores next door!
Edinburgh TV Festival was 72 hours not to be forgotten, with so many broadcasting bosses and talent under one roof, it was going to be a thought-provoking few days writes Media Parents Back to Work Winner, Casting Producer, Joanna Gretton. Joanna was kindly sponsored at Edinburgh by Raw TV.
My bags were packed, I waved farewell to the kids and embarked on a journey into the unknown – the 44th Edinburgh TV Festival. I felt excited if not slightly daunted about whether the industry had changed, there were questions that I wondered whether I’d find the answer to. Which production companies be open to part time casting producer job share roles? Who would I be able to secure meetings with and was I going to make meaningful connections to follow up?
I was instantly reassured. On arrival I had a warm welcome from Sarah Murch, MD of the award winning regional Indie, Blakeway North, a long-time Media Parents supporter. Encouraging me to get in contact with my CV, she said she would be happy to share her London factual contacts book. It felt like I was moving in the right direction.
Memorable moments were meeting Oscar winner Simon Chinn, producer of ‘Untouchable’, a film about Harvey Weinstein, and Dan Reed Director of ‘Leaving Neverland’. The first lecture I attended, “Making of a Mega Doc” was a lively discussion on the impact of Netflix and the competition it had created.
Dorothy Byrne, Head of News and Current Affairs at CH4 brought the house down delivering her hugely insightful MacTaggart Lecture. I implore you to watch it back on You Tube. Speaking out she used the lecture to brandish our politicians for being liars.
Thanks must go to Pat Younge, MD at Sugar Films, who was warm and encouraging. As a boss he said that Indies now wanted to employ people who had come back after a career break as they were keen to have a ‘safe pair of hands’ on board, someone who could get the job done. I felt reassured that my 15 years of telly experience was going to count and put me back on the career path I once adored.
Another hot bed for discussion was during the Steve Hewlett Debate: Duty of Care. Many questions were asked about who has responsibility when the cameras stop filming? There was a strong panel line up, including amongst others the reality TV star Jeff Brazier. It was an eye opener to hear his first hand experiences. The new incoming OFCOM rules proposed to protect vulnerable TV participants meant that it could reduce diversity on screen, saying “A Jade would never be given that opportunity again”. It made me realise that as a programme maker, one should always care deeply about people voices being heard, but raised the question of how does one protect the contributors after the show has TX’d (e.g. on social media). This this was a conversation that did not have a clear answer.
I can honestly say that my first experience of the Festival has certainly given me an insight back into the telly world, thank you to Raw for sponsoring me on this insightful journey via the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme. For me, it has opened up the world of TV again – there are P/T casting producer job-share roles, I just need to look for them, and having met a jobshare partner via the Media Parents Job Share event there is nothing holding me back. The networking circuit at the Festival also presented me with many opportunities to meet the right people and I will be following up in coming weeks and months. I would also be keen to hear from other potential casting job share partners.
We are delighted to announce Media Parents Back to Work Drinks to celebrate our five Media Parents Back to Work Scheme Winners this year. It is a brilliant opportunity to cheer our winners back into work, whilst meeting experienced industry talent and employers. Kindly hosted by ENVY Post Production, the drinks will be sponsored by S+O Media. To sign up to the guestlist please see the link on our watercooler at www.mediaparents.co.uk.
S+O Media is a west London based television facilities company that has been providing equipment as well as crew to the broadcast industry for over fifteen years.
As co-owners, (Olly Wiggins and Stephanie Keelan), have used their experience in the fields of camera work and production to provide a bespoke service to clients that ensures understanding of the shooting process from beginning to end, and where S+O sits within it.
S+O’s passion for the industry and the technology that drives it, has seen the company grow from a small team to an organisation that employs twenty two staff and many more specialist freelance technicians.
Many S+O crew began their careers in-house at S+O, and due to the extensive training they receive, the company is confident in their ability to deliver on set.
S+O hire to a broad range of high profile media clients working on a variety of programming as well as commercials, promos and branded content. From single camera PSC, multi camera recording, fixed rig and self shooting kits, the company can supply and service all our clients’ needs. S+O specialise in Super 35mm and full frame sensor cameras shooting in formats up to 8K. They also provide sound, lights and grip equipment.
Having raised their own children while working in the industry, Steph and Olly are proud to be able to support Media Parents.
When I returned to work from maternity leave in February earlier this year, I’d been left with a bitter taste from the industry I’d been in since University, as I’d felt pushed aside whilst unsuccessfully trying to find work at 6 months pregnant writes JPM Jess Farrow (nee Garland). I was ready to make a break from TV and forge a new career in Events.
I found a nice 3 day-a-week job organising training courses, and eased myself out of the fog and into working life. At first I loved the simplicity of the job, I didn’t have emails on my phone, no one called me on weekends, what bliss! I weighed this up against the fact that the role wasn’t very stimulating and it seemed like a viable trade-off.
I had a break from the job over Easter and saw an old colleague post on Facebook that she was looking for someone to do post paperwork on a couple of Channel 4 docs, the kind of stuff that was my bread and butter as a co-ord. I asked her if this could be done part time and she was thrilled to welcome me on board. I had a lovely 4 weeks’ stint at Flicker Productions and got a little reminder of why had loved TV I the first instance. I tapped into knowledge I had acquired in my career and felt truly valuable. I got to work with lovely people and watch some brilliant documentaries. When I returned to the events role I had the undeniable feeling of total and utter boredom!
I left the events job at the beginning of June and have been trying to pick up my career in TV since then. Post Production seems to be the only area that can offer the flexibility of part time work and even going up to 4 days a week I have been unable to find a JPM role (my last position before going on mat leave was as a JPM).
I am terrified that my career will be dead in the water if all I have achieved in my year back at work is a few short coordinator contracts. This sounds less like a summary and more like a moan but I can promise you I am really good at my job. I have a great CV and lots of references willing to sing my praises, which is why I find it so frustrating to be in this position. I will use the scheme to make contacts and find flexible work and shout from the roof tops about it when I get it!
If you are a TV returner, join Jess Garland and our other Back to Work Scheme Winners at Media Parents Back to Work drinks in September, see our watercooler at www.mediaparents.com for details.
My first job was as an art department assistant on a drama and then as work experience at TFI Friday writes returning PC and Media Parents Back to Work Scheme Winner Kirsti Davidson.
I managed to get a job at Television Centre Studios where I had the opportunity to work on a number of productions and in a variety of positions from Production Secretary, Production Coordinator and Assistant Producer in both Sport and Entertainment. I have experience of live OBs, live studio, pre recorded studio shows and filming on location and worked on shows such as TFI Friday, Sports Personality, Grandstand, Sport Relief, Auntie’s Bloomers and Parkinson.
After 10 years, I I took a break to have a family. It was extremely difficult to get production work that fitted with family life, there was no such thing as flexible working or part time hours and I saw colleagues really struggling with employers and teams when they had to leave suddenly due to a child being poorly or picking up from nursery. It just looked so stressful, so after a few false starts I forged a new career as an illustrator where I could work from home – it was creative and I picked up some great transferable skills; including time management, adobe creative suite, patience, negotiation skills, being calm under deadline pressures and communication skills.
Now my children are older and I am able to work longer hours and travel, I’d really like to work back in production again and be part of a team. Having been out of the industry for several years, I’m happy to work my way up from PC and am looking at courses to brush up on my production skills. I am grateful to Raw TV for the opportunity to be mentored by one of their team.