Media Parents

Monthly Archives: February 2011

March 22nd Event : Identifying Transferrable Skills

by Amy Walker

www.mediaparents.co.uk for great talent, networking, jobs and information.

If you want flexible media work, you may also want to look elsewhere for other kinds of flexible work in a tight spot, but where do you look and what else can you do?  Media Parents is working with coach Alastair Hill at an evening session on March 22nd called Identifying Transferrable Skills.  Join us?  Email events@mediaparents.co.uk with the event name in the title bar.

Introducing Alastair Hill:

Alastair Hill of AHA Associates.

Alastair is a certified professional coach, licensed career counsellor and certified Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner. He is a member of the International Coaching Federation and Association for Coaching.

Alastair sharpens his coaching skills with regular coaching supervision and is continuously developing himself in leadership, management and coaching.

In a recent feedback exercise, the word’s commonly used by Alastair’s clients to describe his coaching style were: “personable”, “empathetic”,  “(infectiously) energetic”, “intuitive”, “incisive” and “tenacious”.

Alastair is married with two children and lives in Berkshire in the UK. http://www.ahaltd.co.uk/

Please email events@mediaparents.co.uk for more information on this event.

www.mediaparents.co.uk for great talent, networking, jobs and information.

February 27, 2011 @ 12:05 am Posted in Events, News Comments Off

Brighton Media Parents Do on March 8th

by Amy Walker

www.mediaparents.co.uk for great talent, networking, jobs and information.

Brighton Media Parents have taken up the baton and will also be celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th.  Meet for coffee at Add the Colour, 64-65 North Road BN1 1YD (between Church and Trafalgar Streets) between 10:30 and 2pm.  Debbie Deeney is organizing for Media Parents, let her know you’re coming at brighton@mediaparents.co.uk or just drop by.  Children welcome.

There may well also be an evening event in Brighton on the 8th, details to follow.

ABOUT DEBBIE DEENEY

I have been a Production Manager, managing a portfolio of shows for nearly 10 years predominately at the BBC. I have experience in most formats including studio and location based shows (BAFTA winning Relic Guardians of the Museum) to Live /pre RX game shows, Factual PSC’s, Live OB’s, Music concerts and low budget animation. I have some drama experience. I have recently completed a Digital /Multiplatform Management course. I am hugely flexible and love what I do. I have also worked on Devt teams preparing realistic budgets/schedules and risk analysis for ideas and have remotely managed productions full & part time. I have also attended Project Management courses and been involved in some change management and small projects.

February 25, 2011 @ 6:23 pm Posted in News Comments Off

Tiger Aspect Meets Media Parents… gallery

by Amy Walker

Tuesday Feb 15th was the first Media Parents networking event that has focussed on Media Parents talent meeting Execs from a single company – Tiger Aspect.  Tiger Aspect Meets Media Parents was a unique opportunity to put faces to names in a relaxed atmosphere at Soho House Basement.  Because Tiger Aspect’s productions cover such a wide range of genres, Execs and 50 talented people from across the board at Media Parents – Factual and Features, Drama, Comedy, Production Management, Children’s and Entertainment – were able to network into the night.  Media Parents would like to thank everyone who gave up their time to make the event a great success.

Watching the Tiger Aspect showreel outlined the breadth of the company's output.

Toby Ward, Head of Production for Comedy & Entertainment and Che Charles, PD.


Sophie Clarke-Jervoise, Head of Comedy, Tiger Aspect.
Thanks again for giving me the opportunity to network and meet fantastic people at Tiger Aspect, I got to see Ruth, Toby and Richard who were all excellent and made me feel positive about getting back into tv after having a baby.

I got to meet some of my production heroes in a relaxed atmosphere.  Thanks.
Just a quickie to say thank you so much for hosting a fab night (and for all your hard work)! I really enjoyed myself and got some invaluable advice from other media parents and TA Execs. It’s so great to have access to people that you wouldn’t ordinarily have. Media Parents are doing such a good job – keep up the good work!

“Everyone here very positive!”

Ruth Pitt, Executive Producer, Factual and Features and Elaine Carlton, PD.

Frith Tiplady, Head of Production for Drama and Richard Thomson, Director of Operations.

Danny Jackson, Writer and Philippa Catt, Production Executive, Comedy & Entertainment.

Wow – thanks so much!  I really enjoyed the evening and honestly can’t imagine that it could have gone any better.  I liked the people I met very much and they seemed to get a lot out of the evening.

PD Matt Rene and Matt Bennett, Executive Producer, Factual and Features.

Comedy Producer Henry Klejdys and Rebecca de Souza – Script Executive.

I found it very useful and I’m glad I came, you and everyone at Tiger Aspect were very helpful and open. I found out I already know someone on the development team…

Rebecca Mulraine, Head of Production, Factual and Features and Leo Carlyon, Editor.

First of all a big thanks for a great event. It was really good to have a named person to aim for (in my case Richard Thomson) as well as the opportunity to talk to others. I had a great chat with Ruth Pitt and she was keen for me to make further contact after the event. Wine and nibbles gave it a real sense of occasion.

Richard Thomson and Terry Tyldesley, PD.

50 people from Media Parents were able to meet the Tiger Aspect team.

I enjoyed myself and actually both Ruth Pitt and Rebecca from factual asked me to get in touch with them to arrange meeting/coffee.

Sharon Van Der Maas, HR Manager, and Helen Matthews, HR Director, Tiger Aspect.

Teresa Nunn, PM and Emma Cockshutt, Head of Legal and Business Affairs.

thanks for putting on a great evening and I really appreciate talking to such wonderful people… Media Parents is going to only get better and better!

Ruth Pitt with Simon Jowett, Writer and Richard Thomson.

Philippa Catt and Iain McCallum, Head of Press and PR.

There was a very positive vibe to the evening and it was also nice to catch up with former colleagues and contacts. It felt like proper networking and was truly a fantastic opportunity to meet new people in the industry – and I hope that goes both ways for Tiger!

Writer Ming Ho, Camera Operator Hazel Palmer and Presenter Hayden Turner, centre.

Toby Ward and Entertainment Producer John Fitzgerald.

Drama Producer Jo Tracy, and Factual PM Emily Freshwater.

Drama Exec Abigail Webber.

Frith Tiplady, Toby Ward and Sophie Clarke-Jervoise.

PD Alison Grist and Presenter Hayden Turner.

Cat Muir, Screenwriter.

Terry Tyldesley and Ruth Pitt.

Edit Producer Sue Bennett and Jean Manthorpe, Editor.

Exec Producer Kathy O'Neil and Matt Bennett.

Jean Manthorpe and PD Annie Conlon.

HR Assistant Emma Fox.

Writer Ellin Stein and Rebecca de Souza.

SP Aileen McCracken and Production Co-ordinator Maggie Walsh.

Series Producers Gill Waddington and Lucy Sandys-Winsch.

With thanks to Tiger Aspect and Soho House for their generous support for this event, and to Leila Amanpour for taking the photographs.

www.mediaparents.co.uk - the jobs and social networking site for short term, part time, job share and regular hours jobs in media

www.leilaamanpour.com

February 20, 2011 @ 9:04 pm Posted in Events, News Leave a comment

5 minutes with… Leila Amanpour, Photographer / Nelson Mandela

by Amy Walker

This is an occasional feature, introducing Media Parents talent.  Photographer Leila Amanpour is a mother of 3 who will be taking the photographs for the Tiger Aspect Meets Media Parents event.

Photographer and mother of 3 Leila Amanpour can be found in the network at www.mediaparents.co.uk

Leila Amanpour, Iranian/British, was born in England in 1972, lived in Iran until 1980 and then moved to London.

In 1996, after a short course in photography at the Camberwell School of Art, Leila worked in the editorial department at Magnum Photos, London. In pursuit of her own work as a photojournalist, Leila moved to South Africa in 2001 and, based in Johannesburg for five years, she covered a wide range of daily life stories in South Africa and throughout the African continent.

Nelson Mandela. Portrait by Leila Amanpour.

Leila’s work has been exhibited in Johannesburg and London and was highly commended in the Commonwealth Photographic Awards 2004. She is conversationally fluent in English, French and Italian.

Shooting and rehearsing scenes from "The Godson". Victoria Island Beach, Lagos, Nigeria 2004.

Clients include: The Sunday Telegraph Magazine, The Financial Times Magazine, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, Waitrose Food Illustrated Magazine, Esquire, GQ, Marie-Claire, Courier International and Africa Geographic.

If you would like to feature on the Media Parents blog please email your profile, personal photo and an image that reflects your work to admin@mediaparents.co.uk

Leila Amanpour is in the Media Parents network at http://www.mediparents.co.uk/ and at http://www.leilaamanpour.com/

www.mediaparents.co.uk for great talent, networking, jobs and information.

February 14, 2011 @ 3:02 pm Posted in News Leave a comment

Tiger Aspect meets Media Parents 12th Feb – Who’s Coming

by Amy Walker

www.mediaparents.co.uk is a new jobs and social networking website for people who want to work flexibly in media, and companies who support that and want to benefit from experienced, diverse talent.

Tiger Aspect meets Media Parents is an exclusive opportunity for Media Parents talent to meet Creative Heads, Executive Producers and Production Executives from Tiger Aspect. The Company is renowned for the breadth and depth of its portfolio. Tiger Aspect produces Drama, Comedy, Entertainment, Factual, Children’s and Animation.

Tiger Aspect HR Director Helen Matthews was so impressed by the talent she met at the Media Parents CV Event (see blog.mediaparents.co.uk) that she persuaded Tiger Aspect’s managers to take part.

Media Parents talent will be meeting…

Helen Matthews is HR Director at Tiger Aspect

Head of Comedy Sophie Clarke-Jervoise and Head of Production for Comedy & Entertainment Toby Ward.  Entertainment Executive Producer Matt Bennett, Entertainment and Comedy Production Executive Philippa Catt.

Drama Producer Rebecca de Souza, and Head of Production Frith Tiplady.

Factual Executive Producer Ruth Pitt and Head of Production Rebecca Mulraine.

Director of Operations Richard Thomson, HR Director Helen Matthews and HR Assistant Emma Fox, amongst others.

Here are their biogs…

Sophie Clarke-Jervoise – Head of Comedy

Sophie Clarke-Jervoise – Head of Comedy.

Sophie joined Tiger Aspect in November 2005 as Head of Comedy and has responsibility for overseeing Tiger Aspect’s comedy activity, managing the department, developing original programming as well as working on a number of series already in development. Her most recent credits at Tiger Aspect are Benidorm, Grandma’s House, Harry & Paul, Sky One’s ’Little Crackers’, The Catherine Tate Show, The Vicar of Dibley, Ladies of Letters and the forthcoming Mount Pleasant for Sky One.


Philippa Catt – Production Executive, Comedy & Entertainment

Philippa Catt – Production Executive, Comedy & Entertainment.

Philippa joined Tiger Aspect in Aug 2001 as a Line Producer and went on to work on various scripted comedy projects eg, Lenny Henry in Pieces,  Swiss Toni, Vicar of Dibley, The Catherine Tate Show and Benidorm. In June 2009 she became Production Executive, working with the Head of Production across all Tiger’s comedy and entertainment output/development.

Before joining the Tiger family,  Philippa worked at TalkBack Productions for 6 years as a Line Producer/PM on projects such as Smith & Jones, They Think It’s All Over,  11 O’Clock Show, Jam & Brass Eye Special.

Toby Ward – Head of Production, Comedy & Entertainment

Toby Ward - Head of Production, Comedy & Entertainment.

Toby Ward joined Tiger Aspect in 1997 and is currently Head of Production for Comedy & Entertainment working across such shows as , Benidorm, Harry & Paul, Catherine Tate Show, Ross Kemp Gangs / Afghanistan, Argumental and Joanna Lumley’s Nile. Prior to Joining TAP Toby was a freelance PM / accountant working on projects such as Spitting Image, Poirot & London’s Burning.
Helen Matthews – HR Director (pictured above).

Helen Matthews joined Tiger Aspect as HR Director in September 2007, with overall responsibility for Tiger Aspect HR.

Helen had previously worked at the BBC in various HR roles, leading the HR recruitment and freelance contracting teams across London programme making departments, including Drama, Entertainment, Children’s, Radio & Music, Television and Sport.

Prior to the BBC, Helen had worked at various independent companies and broadcasters, including Planet 24 and ITN, as well as heading up the HR strategy for deckchair.com in early 2000.

Richard Thomson – Director of Operations

Richard Thomson - Director of Operations

Formerly Head of Television Production for Endemol UK, Richard was appointed Operations Director for the Digital Media division in May 2008. Responsible for all digital activities including the online elements of television projects such as Big Brother, Deal or No Deal, Sexperience, Gok’s Fashion Fix, and children’s series “Roar” and “I Can Cook”.

As Head of Production at Endemol, Richard worked closely with the Executive Producers across the company to oversee projects as diverse as Big Brother’s Little Brother andShattered for C4, Golden Balls, Soccer Aid, Extinct, 24 Hour Quiz for ITV and both series of The Farm and Cosmetic Surgery Live and The All Star Talent Show for Five, as well as more traditional documentary series for the BBC and Channel 4.  His slate included live events, reality programmes, docusoaps, ob docs and several documentary series and one-offs.

From 1996 to early 2001, Richard was Head of Production, Arts and Features at London Weekend Television and prior to that was a founding director of documentary production company Cafe Productions.

Ruth Pitt – Executive Producer, Factual and Features

Ruth Pitt - Executive Producer, Factual and Features

Ruth Pitt is an executive producer at Tiger Aspect Productions and has just completed a film for BBC2 on social mobility. She was formerly Executive Director of Screen England, creative director of documentaries in BBC Religion and Ethics, head of documentaries at Granada Television, executive producer at Century Films, reporter/presenter at Yorkshire Television and founder and managing director of Real Life Productions. She has presented, produced and executive produced numerous films and series as well as chairing the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival. Awards include Royal Television Society, Grierson, Broadcast Production, International Emmy, Sandford St Martin and New York Film Festival.

Matt Bennett – Executive Producer, Factual (not pictured)

Matt is a freelance Director and Executive Producer who has worked on shows such as Trawlermen, Who Do You Think you Are?, Ross Kemp on Gangs, Ross Kemp in Afghanistan, Joanna Lumley’s Nile and Ross Kemp Return to Afghanistan. During 2010, he was Commissioning Editor for the factual department at Channel 5 where he commissioned and oversaw a wide variety of new commissions from Nature Shock and Extraordinary People, to long running obs doc series Emergency Bikers.

Matt has returned to Tiger as an Executive Producer to oversee the next Ross Kemp Afghanistan series for SKY 1 and the next Joanna Lumley series for ITV1, as well as developing and winning commissions from other UK channels.
Rebecca Mulraine – Head of Production, Factual and Features

Rebecca Mulraine - Head of Production, Factual and Features

Rebecca Mulraine joined Tiger Aspect in 2005, initially working on a series called ‘Sexual Fantasies’! Rebecca previously worked for a number of smaller independents, mainly on documentaries; her first job was as a production secretary for Norma Percy.
Once at Tiger Aspect, Rebecca PM’d a number of factual/features productions before moving on to become a Unit Manager for the Features Department, then Head of Production for Factual and Features when the departments merged in 2008.  Rebecca now looks after all department finances, liaising with production teams and negotiating with broadcasters, plus closely managing personnel within the department.  Her key objectives are to ensure that ‘Factual and Features’ is a happy, creative environment where production staff are keen to work to the best of their abilities towards producing great programming.  Recent productions include The Home Show (C4), Paul Merton in Europe (Five), Who Stole all the Best Jobs (BBC 2), Restoration Man (C4), The Big Silence (BBC 2), Island Parish (BBC 2), Surgery School (ITV), Fry and Laurie Reunited (UKTV).
Frith Tiplady – Head of Production, Drama

Frith Tiplady - Head of Drama Production

Frith Tiplady joined Tiger Aspect in May 2006, as Head of Production for Drama. Having started off in the industry as a runner and then the locations department, she previously worked as a freelance Line Producer on such shows as Clocking Off (BBC 1), Sparkhouse (BBC 1), Burn it (BBC 3) Flesh & Blood (BBC 2) & Brookside (Channel 4).

She is responsible for overseeing the financial, logistical, personnel and broadcaster liaison aspect of each production within the drama and film department; endeavouring to ensure that the creative vision is realised. At any one time, overseeing a diverse range of drama programmes in various stages of production and over forty projects on the TAP drama slate. Shows include Robin Hood (BBC 1) Secret Diary (ITV2), The Deep ( BBC1), Blood & Oil  (BBC 2) White Girl (BBC 2) The boys are Back (feature film).
Rebecca de Souza – Script Executive, Drama
Rebecca de Souza is a script executive at Tiger Aspect Productions and is currently in production with two dramas: a three part serial for BBC 1 called ‘Public Enemies’ by Tony Marchant about an offender and his relationship with his probation officer; and a returning series called ‘Bound’ about a group of women who are united by the fact that their men are serving time in prison while they are left on the outside.  She has produced, executive produced and script edited many programmes including ‘Recovery’ starring David Tennant and Sarah Parish; ‘Murder’ starring Julie Walters; ‘Bodily Harm’ starring Timothy Spall, ‘Family Business’ starring Jamie Foreman ‘My Fragile Heart’ starring Sarah Lancashire and most recently a children’s sitcom ‘Me and My Monsters’ for CBBC.
Iain McCallum – Head of Press and PR (not pictured).

Iain McCallum has been Head of Press and PR at Tiger Aspect since 2004. In this time he has devised and implemented a great many successful, creative and resonant promotional campaigns for all Tiger Aspect’s key projects. These in turn have been further exploited to amplify Tiger Aspect’s programming globally and to help secure future deals.

Working closely on projects from the development slate through to the final TX means that Tiger Aspect’s programming is nurtured and given voice and promotional push from earliest point of entry. Iain considers this to be of tantamount importance to the success of any project these days as visibility and noise around any production is what can turn a great idea into a future worldwide entertainment brand. He loves working with the talent, their agents and of course his Tiger Aspect colleagues to shape the future of every project.

Sharon Van Der Maas - HR Manager

Sharon Van Der Maas – HR Manager

Sharon Van Der Maas joined Tiger Aspect as HR Manager in April 2010 covering maternity.

Sharon has worked in the Media industry for the past 10 years as a HR professional with  Channel Five, Virgin Radio, Pearl and Dean Cinema, and Primesight Outdoor.   During this time, she has been responsible for delivering both operational and strategic HR to the businesses.

Prior to working in Media, Sharon has worked for Gillette and the NHS as a HR professional delivering operational HR to multi locations for both professional and technical teams.

Since having a family, Sharon has returned to work on a part-time basis.

Emma Fox - HR Assistant

Emma Fox – HR Assistant

Emma joined Tiger Aspect in January 2010 and is responsible for the smooth administration of the HR department. She also manages the Runner’s Apprenticeship Scheme.

Prior to joining to joining Tiger Aspect Emma worked in HR roles in the retail and travel sectors after graduating in 2007.

www.mediaparents.co.uk is a new jobs and social networking website for people who want to work flexibly in media, and companies who support that and want to benefit from experienced, diverse talent.

February 13, 2011 @ 10:31 pm Posted in Events, News Comments Off

WRITING & KIDS, PT 2: Working from Home

by Amy Walker

Lucy V Hay (left), Amy Walker, Marc Pye and Rebecca Gatward at the London Screenwriters' Festival 2010.

WRITING & KIDS, PT 2: Working from Home

The title of this post is a little misleading, as I feel it can be applied to anyone who works from home whilst looking after children – not just writers. And there are a lot of us: I am of course not just a writer, but a script reader and self employed teacher (ie. “outside” the state school system) as well. I know parents who make jewellery and other crafts whilst looking after children (my own parents did this for a time as I was growing up, in fact); accountants; copy editors; web designers – the list of jobs you can do in this way is endless.

The internet has called us Mumpreneurs, though of course it’s not just women working in this way, but men too. Creating your own work and becoming a sole trader, starting up your own limited company is hard work and sometimes means unsocial hours, but it also has many benefits. For me, my working hours mean I am nearly always available to pick up my daughter from school or have the kids at home with me if they’re (really) ill; in addition, I’ve never missed a nativity, school play or sports day.

Self employment is not the easy option by a long shot; for one thing, you’re never going to get rich, especially when work often comes in a “famine or feast” kind of way as it does with Bang2write. As a sole trader like me, you’re often working alone and this can be very isolating, especially from other parents at school. It’s hard to know how to answer that inevitable question at the school gates, “Do you work?” Say “yes” and some stay-at-home Mums think you’re trying to lord it over them in a “aha, I have the best of BOTH worlds” kind of way; say “no” and some think you could be lazy and/or have nothing to talk about, isolating you even further.

Though the above is hardly the end of the world, this is not something other working parents have to go through, as their children inevitably end up going to after school clubs and childminders. The worse things, then: job security – where is the next bit of work coming from? No sick pay, or poor information from people should know better – when I was pregnant with my daughter, I was advised by TWO places – my midwife and the local job centre – there was no such thing as Maternity Allowance for self employed women (but there was). This meant I was reading scripts again within two weeks of giving birth! Better still, the first script I read dealt with the rape and murder of a child. I was absolutely inconsolable.

Whilst I have friends working in offices etc who confess feeling guilty or gutted about missing the like of their baby’s first words or their childminder ended up taking the child on their first day of school, that need never happen to those parents working from home. But guilt is still very much part of your working life, too – only in a different way to other working parents. Take your pick: you don’t earn enough money to take the kids on a foreign holiday like their mates, you end up camping in the rain in Devon, instead. You can’t afford a swanky private school like the Smythes down the road and the local comprehensive is shit, but you can’t home school your kids either ‘cos you need to earn money whilst working from home. There are times the proverbial hits the fan on a project and you’re working quite literally day and night, including weekends, not seeing your kids, sometimes for little or even NO money (particularly on collaborations or if there has been a mistake). You see your colleagues and siblings train for their jobs and start on the career ladder and get higher and higher, whilst you stay more or less the same in your own working world – and then you worry you’re setting a poor example, especially if your kids **think** all you do is spend all day on Facebook.

All those horror stories and bad points aside however, working from home will always be my choice of employment. I’ve worked *for* others – “in the system” as it were – and believe the benefits of self employment outweigh the bad ones in the long term. If you’re thinking of taking the plunge as a “Mum/Dadpreneur” or as a professional writer then, here are my thoughts on combining working from home with looking after kids:

It’s all about routine again. There will be many times you’re fielding calls and emails or doing something work-related, whilst trying to keep a small child amused or seeing to an older kid’s needs. If you try and do all at once, not only will your brain explode, your kid will lose out. Routine here is key, just as outlined in the previous post about writing specs while looking after kids. You and your kids need to negotiate a deal that works for all of you. In my house now, I start on the admin of the day at about 8am usually, while the kids watch their morning cartoons, so most of my emails and urgent calls etc is done by approximately 10am (which also takes in the school run). When my daughter was not at school and my lad was still at primary, I had a different routine because my daughter liked to jump off sofas etc and start fights with her brother. Work out what needs to be done FIRST, via what your kids need and you can’t go far wrong. Then factor in the other stuff – a diary is essential if you don’t have a good memory or have many varied tasks that need doing – and structure your day and week accordingly. Breaking up your To Do list into small chunks seems a good strategy, especially when a small child is in the house, “little and often”, it all adds up.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up. There will be unsocial hours and there will be evenings and weekends taken up by work from time to time; it’s just the way of it. When my daughter was first born, I was doing my script reports every night from about 7pm for nearly a year, as I had zero childcare. But though you might miss bathtime or bedtime from time to time, this doesn’t make you a bad parent – and kids are very adaptable. Just recently I had to bow out of a family trip to the cinema because a ton of scripts fell on me from a great height from a prodco and I had to get started right away or drown. Both kids barely noticed my absence, especially when my husband bought them popcorn too. It’s a shame but a fact of life – and kids do understand.

It’s All About Agreements # 1: Timing. I have one long term Bang2writer who is nocturnal and used to call me past 10pm to discuss projects and script edits. At first I put up with this, thinking I *had* to, to keep his business. This changed when I was approximately 36 weeks pregnant and at the end of my tether for other reasons; I simply told him he had to either email me from now on or call me before 8pm because I actually go to bed at 10pm, as I have to be up at 6am for the kids. Not only did he apologise profusely, he then chastised me for not saying so earlier! My current rule is thus, then: the computer generally goes off about 7pm and it stays off; I don’t talk to Bang2writers after that time, either – tweets, FB msgs and emails are always welcome, but will be responded to in the morning. HOWEVER, if I am signed into Twitter or Facebook after those times (for instance, during #scriptchat at 8pm on a Sunday), I am fair game… but PLEASE still don’t call me on my mobile.

It’s All About Agreements # 2: Housework. My husband and I have an agreement regarding the housework; if I am working, I have no obligation to clean the house or do the chores, as I am already stretched two ways looking after a child and working at the same time. We can do the housework together in the evening. If I am NOT working however – and there are always “dry” periods to self employment, March always is for script reading I find, perhaps because of the end of the financial year? – then I will do it. Agreements like this are always worth re-negotiating as your needs change, too. For example, I am writing a novel at the moment on spec, which obviously requires a lot of time; I’m making no money from it at this specific time, but it needs doing as it is a specific opportunity that has come through my agent. In the past, I’ve done the same regarding trial scripts for TV shows, though I did not get those gigs, unfortunately. (I’m happy to say my husband understands and supports the nature of spec work and applies the same rule of thumb to the housework then as paid-for work like script reading or corporate or other paid-for writing work, though I’m aware some partners are not always as giving when money is not directly involved).

Lilirose : Before she started school, my daughter Lilirose would dress herself while I juggled work and home; it fostered independence in her. Of course, it meant most days she would wear simply a vest, a pair of woolly tights and swimming goggles, but until we actually had to go anywhere, did it matter? No it did not.

It’s All About Agreements # 3: What Children Can Do. Your kids must also accept some responsibility in helping you achieve what you need to get done. I’m not saying older children should look after the younger children for extended periods, become your dogsbody or do other non-”child friendly” things; I’m very keen kids stay kids, ‘cos childhood lasts such a short time. However there are small things they can do to ensure the working day goes smoothly for everyone and no one ends up biting anyone’s heads off. For instance, in my house, my 12 yr old son makes his sister’s toast when he makes his own, most days so I can get on with those emails.  When they’ve finished said breakfast, they both need to take their dishes and glasses to the sink. Both children have to make their beds and ensure their rooms are tidy (or as tidy as a four year old can do). If they’ve made a mess of the living room – my daughter likes to cut things out of magazines, for instance – then they need to clear it up again as best they can. It’s all about making the kids realise it’s about showing willing and that parents are people too.

It’s All About Agreements, # 4: Clients. No list of agreements would be complete without thinking about your client, what they need and how you’re going to achieve it. For a short time I broke my back on ridiculously short turnarounds for scripts, thinking it was the *only* way to get and keep Bang2writers. In time, I came to realise people came to me not *just* for my short turnarounds, but for my expertise – which I had and should hold in higher esteem. As a result, I started structuring my script reports much more realistically. I was honest with Bang2writers about my schedule and started telling people that if it wasn’t quick enough for them, I could always recommend another reader. If anything, people seemed to respect this more than the previous script reading martyr I had been, taking on way too much at once.

Another note on being honest. All the people I work with regularly know the constraints on my time. As a result, I’m rarely asked to go **beyond** what I can humanly do. This works well and it’s only been ONCE I have been dropped from a project for “not being quick enough”. Once upon a time I would have been hurt deeply by this, but now I think, “Good.” Because if that producer’s interest dissipated *that* quickly – it was literally a matter of four days! – then she can’t have been a very safe bet to work with, anyway.

There Will Be Emergency Jobs That Require Bribery or Help. Sometimes something will land on your head from a great height and the ONLY way to deal with the situation is RIGHT NOW. This could mean your routine goes out the window and there is the occasional day of the kid watching Cbeebies and DVDs, whilst eating crisps. As long as it’s not every day, the kid will be okay, HONEST; you’re not scarring them for life or holding back their development. If your situation lasts more than a day, it’s wise to draft in help wherever you can. This doesn’t just mean begging neighbours to take your kid for a “change of scenery” to the park either; think outside the box. When I had an issue fitting a particular project in last year that really needed doing, I called the university and asked for students who wanted to be interns and help me with it. It worked brilliantly and now I work with my “intern” Sal all the time, she’s a great help to me – and she benefits from my experience. It’s win-win. There must be other opportunities for working parents – in whatever jobs – to do this and have students help them lighten the load.

It’s Not The End Of The World If Some Days Your Kids Eat Too Many Biscuits. It wasn’t long before both of my children very cannily worked out that when Mum’s on the computer, NOW is a good time to ask her stuff as there’s a strong chance she will say “yes” absent-mindedly. Both of mine have a very sweet tooth, so these requests usually revolve around the biscuit barrel and “You said I could!” when I object later. Obviously you don’t want this to happen all the time ‘cos it’s not good for them, but the occasional day here and there if they get away with it is not going to kill them and you’re NOT a bad parent because of it, either.

Miscellaneous. Before she started school, my daughter would dress herself while I juggled work and home; it fostered independence in her. Of course, it meant most days she would wear simply a vest, a pair of woolly tights and swimming goggles, but until we actually had to go anywhere, did it matter? No it did not.

Writer and expectant mother, Lucy V Hay

Lucy V Hay is a parent, writer and script editor living in Bournemouth, Dorset. Currently she is working on a novel, associate producing the dark Brit Thriller DEVIATION, starring Danny Dyer & Amber Walton, planning the 2011 London Screenwriters’ Festival and also has time to write a blog at http://lucyvee.blogspot.com/

www.mediaparents.co.uk is a new jobs and social networking website for people who want to work flexibly in media, and companies who support that and want to benefit from experienced, diverse talent.

@ 10:01 pm Posted in News Comments Off

London Screenwriters’ Festival and WRITING & KIDS, PT 1: Getting The Spec Done

by Amy Walker

Screenwriter Lucy V Hay, Media Parents Director Amy Walker, Screenwriter Marc Pye and Director Rebecca Gatward. Gatward: "Being a parent has focussed my career".

www.mediaparents.co.uk Director Amy Walker was invited to speak at the London Screenwriters’ Festival alongside a distinguished panel of Media Parents: Screenwriters Lucy V Hay and Marc Pye spoke about the inspiration they drew from their children, and their methods of working with kids in the house, and Director Rebecca Gatward was clear that motherhood had made her more organised: “Being a parent has focussed my career.  You never switch off, as a parent or at work”.

Happily expecting her third child, Media Parent, screenwriter and script editor Lucy V Hay shares her thoughts on writing and parenting here on the Media Parents blog.

Talking Media Parents at the London Screenwriters' Festival.

I was a parent long before I was a writer or script editor; having a child in your teens before you have even gone to university, never mind started your career, means you have to be able to time manage.

Yet there appears to be this feeling that one has a baby, then you wait for it to get old enough to go to nursery or school, THEN you get started on whatever it is *you* want to do. And of course this works for some people – and if you WANT to wait until your child is old enough to go to school before starting your writing career (or whatever it is you want to do), then that’s absolutely what you should do; there are no value judgements here on what is “best”. Combining parenthood and careers is most definitely one of those things completely up to the individuals involved.

However, if like me you would feel frustrated at *having* to wait the three or four years before your child starts school, there isn’t a reason in the world you can’t get started RIGHT NOW. I have created a a script reading business, a whole portfolio of scripts, got an agent, got meetings and worked on various projects like The London Screenwriters Festival and http://www.deviationmovie.com”, all while looking after children at the same time. And no, I haven’t had oodles of childcare either – 2010 was probably one of my busiest years to date, yet my daughter only went to nursery three MORNINGS a week and I had NO RELATIVES helping me out either, as I live far away from them.

I’m not superwoman, nor am I unique: it’s all down to two things – good time management and strategies.

I’m not superwoman, nor am I unique: I know loads of other writers and media professionals juggling their work and their children in exactly the same way.  It’s all down to two things – good time management and strategies.

First, I’m going to look at how it’s possible to write a spec – or many specs if you want! – whilst looking after kids. Many Bang2writers have told me over the years they feel guilty writing specs while their children watch Cbeebies. Others say it’s difficult staying up late to write when they’ve been hassled by the children all day, their brains are in the “wrong place”; others say they want to get up early in the mornings to write before the children get up, but find there’s always *something* that gets in the way: an ill spouse, a leaking washing machine, a pile of dog sick or that ironing pile that just gets BIGGER AND BIGGER.

But I say you don’t **have** to make your children watch acres of television, ignore household chores, stay up late or get up early to write. I don’t do any of these things when writing specs – yet have still managed to write plenty of them. Lots of people express disbelief at this and think I must be lying; that secretly I’ve had the Wee Girl watch 100 hours of television a week and I’m beavering away at 3am every morning whilst ironing at the same time. But I’m really not. So how can it be done?

By breaking your shackles to the keyboard. I’ve witnessed, countless times, people spending all their available writing time sitting at their PC screen. This is the worst thing you can do when it comes to good time management: for one thing, there’s a strong chance you will end up on social networks instead and while away your time very easily. Secondly, even if your docs are open, you may just end up cutting and moving chunks of your script around – or even worse, simply rewrite the sections you’ve already done (and thus put your finishing date further and further away in the future).

Instead, the time savvy writer who has not much time to actually write will SHUT DOWN THEIR COMPUTER. That’s right. They will NOT sit at the PC when coming up with new ideas or solutions for the problem they are currently having with the script. Instead they will take the dog for a walk if it needs walking; do the ironing; take their kid to their park – maybe all three.

A writer’s best writing is done by thinking.

In other words, they will do REAL LIFE STUFF and let those fictional things come to a natural conclusion in their own head (they should always carry a notebook for a Eureka! moments, of course). Remember: this is  SPEC – there is no deadline, other than your own rising feeling of panic at the thought of *not* getting the project done. So stop panicking. Do the real life stuff that needs doing, get away from the keyboard. You’d be surprised at how quickly it all comes together – as I always say, “A writer’s best writing is done by thinking.”

By experiencing real life with your kid. Congratulations, there is a child in your house. You hopefully wanted one in the first place but even if you didn’t, children are an absolute GIFT to the writer: their view of life is completely different to an adult’s and if you pay close attention, you can share in that view. This can feed into your writing, big time. By knowing life is different for everyone, you won’t be writing your own story all the time; you will also hear how children talk and represent them better on the page, which will hopefully have the knock-on effect of differentiating other adult characters too.

But beyond all that, by getting OUT THERE in the world with your child, you will see other things that can also help writing in the long term. Lots of people often say to me & my children have a weird way of seeing or finding “weird things” like the snake in the hedge, but in reality, lots of other people probably walked right past that hedge and never saw the snake. Why? Because they were probably so focused on their own lives, their own problems, their own work or where they needed to get to, etc.

If you have a child with you, you can usually go at more leisurely pace (provided it’s not the school run, of course) and there are more opportunities to see the more random, screwy side of life. Just recently the Wee Girl and I saw a chap in a suit on a skateboard, with a small dog tucked under one arm. True story. Like kids, you have to learn to really LOOK.

“BUT BUT…!” You say, “This is where the kid has to watch loads of Cbeebies, right? This is where the ironing doesn’t get done or the dog doesn’t get walked?!!!” No, actually and all because of this: ROUTINE.

By having a writing strategy. Here’s mine: write a one page pitch doc and iron out roughly where the story is going; write a longer synopsis or beat sheet. For the actual screenplay, write as many pages as you can every day – but never more than ten; NEVER look back at the previous pages, JUST KEEP GOING. Rinse, repeat until finished. Then, read it all through. It will of course be mostly pants, but there will be some good stuff in there. Do a rewrite on the same basis – as many pages as possible, but never more than ten, etc. Get notes for the third or fourth version, then do the same again… and so on. “BUT BUT…!” You say, “This is where the kid has to watch loads of Cbeebies, right? This is where the ironing doesn’t get done or the dog doesn’t get walked?!!!” No, actually and all because of this:

ROUTINE.

Small children like routines – and if you stick to them military-style and are consistent, those small children will let you write. It’s 100% honest to God true. I know there are children who have learning disabilities who may not be so accommodating (with very good reason), but the average child will be willing to cut you a deal, even if they’re not old enough to know what the word “negotiation” means.

Lucy V Hay's children, Alf and Lilirose

An example: when the Male Spawn was at primary school, I would walk him the twenty minutes there, with the Wee Girl in the pushchair; that’s a forty minute round trip, which took in town on the way back. On that basis then, I would run any errands for the day first – like going to the post office, picking up milk, buying anything else, etc. So by the time I reached home it was usually approximately half 9 and it was time for Balamory. Wee Girl would then clamber out of her pushchair and watch approximately one hour of Cbeebies. During this time I’d ignore all email and go straight to my script pages and do as much as I could. Wee Girl would burst into the kitchen at approximately half ten and then I’d take her to the park for an hour. We’d be back for approximately midday and Wee Girl would sleep for 1.5 hours. I’d do more pages. She’d wake up in time for lunch and after I’d unloaded the washing machine, etc then we’d play or do some painting or baking, before it would be time to pick up the Male Spawn from school again. After school is when ironing and other chores would get done, usually while both children played with next door’s children while their mother was doing the same as me.

The end goal was always the same: tire her out, GET HOME AND WRITE LIKE THE WIND.

It was not easy to implement this routine; Wee Girl is wilful and like most children, wants her own way. However with much tweaking and negotiating, this system worked for us for a very long time – and all days where she wasn’t at nursery became like this, more or less. I also introduced more things to do, as I became bored of going to the park – I started taking her to musical class Jo Jingles for instance, to Storytime at the local library or to “Stay and Play” at the local children’s centre. The end goal was always the same: tire her out, GET HOME AND WRITE LIKE THE WIND.

Working for actual money and/or a specific deadline or end result when there are children in the house to look after, a whole different ball game…

Writer and expectant mother, Lucy V Hay

Lucy V Hay is a parent, writer and script editor living in Bournemouth, Dorset. Currently she is working on a novel, associate producing the dark Brit Thriller DEVIATION, starring Danny Dyer & Amber Walton, planning the 2011 London Screenwriters’ Festival and also has time to write a blog at http://lucyvee.blogspot.com/


February 6, 2011 @ 7:41 pm Posted in News 1 Comment

David Abraham announces new diversity fund at Nations & Regions Conf

by Amy Walker

Steve Hewlett hosted the session with David Abraham, C4's Chief Exec. Minutes in he asked "Will you be sending Jay Hunt on a training course?"

What I heard loud and clear from David Abraham, Channel 4′s Chief Exec, in conversation with Steve Hewlett at the Nations and Regions Conference in Manchester, was that he, and C4 are on a big diversity spree.  Steve Hewlett launched the first salvo by asking, since the TV production staff involved in the Miriam O’Reilly case were being sent for retraining, would Abraham be sending his new Chief Creative Officer, Jay Hunt, on a training course too?  Sitting in the row in front of me, Hunt burst out laughing, and Hewlett gracefully credited Kirsty Wark with the idea.  Answer came there none from Abraham but what he did say was this – that the channel’s problem is “too much of the same old…” but that the struggle was that the current economic climate was “making risk much more expensive, but we’re Channel 4 – if we don’t take risks then who will?”  He announced that C4 now considers all content across all platforms (thoughts from Matt Locke, Acting Head of Multiplatform at C4 may one day make it to this blog),  and he then moved on to talk about “opening TV up to a full range of diverse talent” and the need for a diverse range of producers to do this.  (www.mediaparents.co.uk has a diverse range of brilliant talent).

C4 "opening TV up to a full range of diverse talent" with the Alpha Fund

Mark Thompson might be taking over the CDN (http://www.culturaldiversitynetwork.co.uk/ – did you know that one way for indies to show they are fulfilling the CDN pledge is to work with www.mediaparents.co.uk?) – but C4 are putting their money where their mouth is in the form of The Alpha Fund “supporting grass roots talent”.   £2 million will be used to fund the first stages of creative ideas, and will be allocated by the Creative Diversity Team.  (Happily I managed to bump into Ade Rawcliffe who’s on the team just after the event, and we’re going to plot ways for the Creative Diversity Team to work with Media Parents).  They’re putting money into talent spotting, and reopening the late night schedule for diverse talent.  Abraham then quoted and named a lot of people, all of whom were blokes.  We’ll get there.  Watch this space for more information from Ade.

Media City, Salford - it didn't rain once.

There’s a convergence fund too, dishing out £2 million in 2011 for apps and pioneering new ideas in creative TV.  Abraham said that C4 would set “the first ever regional targets for digital media,” declaring “investment in online has to match the creativity and ambitions of our TV divisions”.

Jay Hunt had only been in her new role a week at the time of the conference, but she will be revealing the detailed manifesto for change before long, and C4′s ambition – “Our overriding aim is to be the best broadcaster to work with.”

Channel 4 works with www.mediaparents.co.uk, please make contact through the site if you would like to too.  To hear podcasts from the Nations and Regions Conference please go here http://www.nationsandregionsmedia.org/

www.mediaparents.co.uk is a new jobs and social networking website for people who want to work flexibly in media, and companies who support that and want to benefit from experienced, diverse talent.

February 5, 2011 @ 4:34 pm Posted in News Leave a comment

FREE coaching sessions

by Amy Walker

Angus Fletcher coaches at a Media Parents Event

Life coach Angus Fletcher, founder of Streetcoaching.com is offering free coaching sessions for people who would be filmed during coaching.  If you’re a Media Parent with something to overcome – be it motivating yourself to find work, balancing the demands of  TV and parenting, learning new stress management techniques – you name it, Angus would like to hear from you.  Please click here for contact details http://www.streetcoaching.com/

@ 3:00 pm Posted in Events, News Comments Off