Mel Joyce writes for Media Parents on being a mum getting back into production, in search of the holy grail part time job… I had been a PD for six years when I had my lovely baby girl last summer. I used to think people who said that motherhood was the hardest job in the world had never done 20 hour shoot days. Then I realised 20 hour shoot days were a breeze by comparison!
But despite how utterly knackering it is, having my baby girl is, without a doubt, the best thing that has ever happened to me. And so now that I have just returned to work after a year off, it’s hard not to have mixed feelings. On the one hand, it is utterly delightful to be back out in the working world having adult conversations, buying flat whites, brainstorming, getting paid (yay!) and being reminded of a big part of my identity that I had forgotten about this past year. But equally, I’m heartbroken about having to leave my daughter for five days out of seven and missing out on loads of precious moments. So for me, the perfect solution is a part-time job, and this is where it seems to get tricky in TV land…
Back at the end of the last century, I badgered my way onto a BBC traineeship hoping to work in radio production after discovering I really rather liked doing that at university (as it turned out, BBC radio wasn’t like student radio….for one thing, it didn’t involve me and my flatmates waffling on about the merits of Findus crispy pancakes). A couple of months later I was offered two jobs; one as a broadcast assistant and the other as a TV researcher in the BBC Childrens department. I took the TV one because Annie, the lovely course leader told me it was the better offer. I knew nothing about TV production; my family consist of social workers and builders, and anything slightly creative is usually viewed with utter bemusement. However, I immediately loved working in TV (who wouldn’t!). I developed silly game ideas for Saturday morning’s Live& Kicking, sourced competition prizes, and made up little dances for pre-schoolers on CBBC’s Beep Boppers. It was the perfect job for a 22 year old. Come to think of it, that sounds like the perfect job for a 35 year old too…
A few years later, and I was about to strike gold with a BBC staff job, when I decided to go off travelling for a year. Mortgages, babies and finances just didn’t enter into the equation. And nor should they at 26. When I returned, loads of production staff were being made redundant and freelance contracts were the order of the day. Before I had children, I loved being freelance, but with childcare needing to be organised well in advance, and employers often unable to consider part-time freelancers, it seems like it might take some ingenuity on my part to balance the two.
I have been really lucky that I have been able to work on hit entertainment shows like Come Dine with Me and Four Weddings, as well as annual music shows such as Glastonbury and Reading Festivals. I have also done stints in Development, which suits me, as I love coming up with ideas and turning a little tiny seed into something special.
Last year, I was very excited to tick off a long held ambition when I attended the TV Baftas after an episode of mine was chosen to represent the Come Dine with Me series. I was heavily pregnant so the free booze was wasted on me, but I did get to hold Trevor McDonald’s trophy (ooh-er)….It’s not everyday I get to say that. It was rather heavy, and bigger than expected FYI.
I have just returned to work after a year off. My first job back was doing some holiday cover for the Talent Manager at Optomen, which I loved. It was so great to be busy with work, calling up freelancers and using my worky-brain again. At the moment, I’m back at ITV in production working on Come Dine with Me, which is brilliant because it’s my old stomping ground, however it is full time. What I am really striving for is that holy grail of TV land and motherhood: The Perfect Part-time Job.
I would love to be able to work 2,3 or even 4 day weeks but just have that extra bit of time with my daughter during the week. I guess time will tell whether I am able to make that work but I would love it if someone read this and thought “ooh I have the perfect for job for that Mel Joyce”. For me, that might be in a production (I have the added bonus of a job-share PD partner-in-crime if needed…), in a development capacity, or as a Talent Manager. If you know of such a thing, I’d love to talk to you to discuss how a flexible job role might work for you, and for me too!
To contact Mel Joyce please click here http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/495/mel-joyce