Media Parents

Monthly Archives: February 2013

Five Minutes With… Andrew Fenner, PD

by Amy Walker

I want to start to with a confession… writes Producer Andrew Fenner.  I don’t have children.  There it is.  It’s out there.  Please don’t hate me.  I do always feel a fraud when I go Media Parents events.  People will smile sweetly at me and ask “What have you got?” or “how do you cope with childcare issues?” and I just mutter a bit, look at my shoes and try and change the subject.  The thing that attracted me to Media Parents was that on the home page it says it’s for “anyone who wants to work flexibly to balance the demands of media and other commitments”.

Andrew Fenner in the crowd at the recent Media Parents Media CityUK hosted BBC North. http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/1478/andrew-fenner

Having spent 15 years working in the media, filming all over the world, working weekends, nights and even Christmas day I decided it was time to concentrate on those “other commitments” and get my life balance in order. As well as my full time job I was a trustee of a charity, helped my wife run her training company and being a lay preacher I had church commitments meaning that I spoke all over the country.

Andrew and Karen Fenner

When I left the BBC the idea of a female Producer with children working part time was acceptable (if tricky to organise); a male Producer with children working part time was considered curious, but acceptable (but still tricky to organise); a male producer with no children wanting to work part time was considered…well..lazy!  So 4 years ago I decided that if I wanted to focus more time on my other commitments and less on being a cog in the corporate machine then I would have to go freelance.

I’m glad to say that attitudes are now changing and certainly I have recently seen in BBC North a successful job share of a development producer between a young mother and a male colleague who like me, just wanted more time to do other things.  Attitudes towards what needs doing and where you need to do it are also changing.

One of my first jobs back at the BBC after I went freelance was on Songs of Praise (which I had worked on before I left).  This Sunday tea time institution is a joy to work on, partly because of the healthy the work/life balance ethos that the management have.  Approximately 90% of the staff have children ranging from infants to teenagers and their working patterns reflect this.  PC’s are allowed to do paperwork at home if required, Producers can script anywhere and there is a “grown up” attitude of as long as the job is done well, on time and on budget, then you are allowed to work flexibly. (This is in stark contrast to some productions which I have worked on where the PM would have been happier if they had a clocking in machine on their desk and ankle tags on us all so they knew where we were at all times!)

Editing a story to be filed from Tanzania for Heaven and Earth. http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/1478/andrew-fenner

At the time of my return the programme was preparing for its move from the crumbling Oxford Road to their new home in Media City UK in Salford Quays.  Working in a building which is being decommissioned is a strange experience.  Rooms, departments and entire floors would be cleared and tape put across the door like a police crime scene with signs saying “Decommissioned – Entry Forbidden”.  As a result of this, they didn’t have a desk for me.  Very quickly it was decided that I should work from home as all I really needed was a phone, computer and access to my BBC e-mails.  So for the next 6 months I did just that.  I went in for editorial content meetings with the Series Producer, went out filming and to the edit.  The rest of the 3 programmes I made for them were all set up and scripted from my desk in the back bedroom (saving me time commuting and money on petrol and parking).

Andrew Fenner setting up cameras in a church in Stockport. One taster tape was edited from his back bedroom, and copy was submitted for Songs of Praise from home.

A couple of years later I did a similar collaboration when an exec wanted a taster tape cutting (I have FCP at home).  He was in London; I live in Ormskirk in Lancashire.  We could have met in Salford, but it was much more efficient for us to chat via phone/email and then for him to send me clips via Dropbox and me drop the film back to him the same way.  When I was edit producing in London last year but had a hospital appointment back up North, again a simple export of the editors rough cut onto a memory stick was all I needed for me to write my VO for the episode I was working on in between appointments.

"Where is the focus button again?"

Technology is changing so fast that there are more roles (not just admin ones) which can be done from home saving time and money.  But there does still seem to be a suspicion that if you are “working from home” that you spend all day playing with your children or in my case in front of the TV with a cup of tea and a packet of chocolate Hob Nobs. (There may be an element of this; I call it “research”).  Occasionally working from home away from the distractions of the office can lead to you achieving more in your work and your home life.  I think some elements of the industry need to treat us as “grown-ups” and embrace new working practices.  At the end of the day (to coin and footballing cliché), it’s my name that appears at the end of the credits, so surely it’s in my interest to make the best programme possible?

I appreciate that not all productions can work like this but if you are tied to an office at least ask yourself the question “Do I really need to be here?”.  So if anyone wants to see if it is possible to produce their programme from a back bedroom in Lancashire, then I’m available for hire, details on my profile page. Oh, and by the way, yes, I have been writing this blog in my PJ’s, with a cup of tea and a chocolate Hob Nob by my side.

Andrew Fenner is in the TALENT section of www.mediaparents.co.uk

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/1478/andrew-fenner

February 22, 2013 @ 1:55 pm Posted in News Leave a comment

TXing Tonight: The Year Britain Flooded, C4, Edit Producer Phil Stein

by Amy Walker

How do you make a fully-fledged, prime-time science doc in a month? I was wondering the same thing when I got a call to Edit Produce “The Year Britain Flooded”, showing tonight at 9pm on Channel 4.  “First of all – get a helicopter,” says Bob Strange, the exec. “Just get to the scene as quick as possible and get up in the air with an expert. That’s the opening sequence of the film.”

"How do you make a fully-fledged, prime-time science doc in a month?" asks Phil Stein, PD. “First of all – get a helicopter,” says Exec Producer Bob Strange, “Just get to the scene as quick as possible and get up in the air with an expert.”

By the time my Editor Chris Roberts and I started cutting, someone had shot that scene but not much else. There was no script to speak of, few contributors lined up, and some rough back-of-napkin sketches for the graphics. What we did have, however, was a clear sense of the story we wanted to tell…and some extraordinary YouTube clips.

When it comes to extreme weather, nothing beats a person in the street with a smartphone. The quality is often rubbish, but who cares? Someone screaming his head off while a wall of water rushes towards him conveys the drama of a flood better than any graphic or talking head. We knew those clips would be the heart of the film and we spent most of the first week viewing, categorizing, and labeling them. Rain clips, flood clips, lightning clips, landslide clips, animals trapped in water clips – hundreds of them. Then rushes started to…flood…in. By the end of the week, I could see the outlines of a show.

"When it comes to extreme weather, nothing beats a person in the street with a smartphone." PD Phil Stein is in the Talent section of www.mediaparents.co.uk

In week two, Edit 2 started up, and two days later Edit 3. By the end of the second week we had four suites running ten hours a day. At first, we all just picked theoretical sequences off a list and started cutting them, not knowing how long they were supposed to be or what was coming before or after them. Scenes bounced from one edit to another as they moved from part 1 to part 3 to part 2 and back again. But somehow, order started to emerge from the chaos – by the start of week three, every suite had one part of the show. By the end of that week, two of the suites were stood down and I had half a film to work with. And then, in the last few days, it was just Chris and I again: this time with a one-hour documentary, complete and ready for online.

Did it work? Please watch and let me know!

“The Year Britain Flooded”, is showing tonight at 9pm on Channel 4.

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-year-britain-flooded/video/series-1/episode-1/the-year-britain-flooded

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/1006/phil-stein

PD Phil Stein, Media Parents Talent

If you have 3+ years TV experience please join us at www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, networking and events.

February 12, 2013 @ 12:42 pm Posted in News 1 Comment

Five Minutes with… Emma Hill, Digital Producer

by Amy Walker

So, I’m just a few working days into my latest job, on a new Channel 4 show – Bedtime Live. As ever, schedules are tight, pressure is high and everyone’s working hard to make the show the best they possibly can.

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/4770/emma-hill Emma Hill is in the TALENT section of www.mediaparents.co.uk

I’m Senior Producer for digital/interactive/social media/online/whatever-other-name-you-care-to-throw-at-it. I got the job after I saw a vacancy with Twofour on Media Parents. Next thing I know, I was drafted in to quickly take the reins on the content for the digital and interactive elements of the show. A white knuckle ride, but hugely rewarding. It’s a freelance contract that will keep me busy until the show ends in April.

There’s a lot to get my head around – we’ll be using social and online media to find contributors, promote the show, engage our users and pull comments and stories in from viewers about their own experiences.

We’ll also be providing stacks of online and interactive information and entertainment around our subject matter. There’ll be tips and hints from experts too, leading me neatly on to my next point – what is the show about?

Now, us Media Parents know that working and getting the kids in bed (and to stay asleep) at night are often two conflicting aims. Bedtime Live – spearheaded by child psychology expert and TV regular Professor Tanya Byron – aims to help the parents of the nation get their kids settled and secure for the night. It also focuses on the problems sleep deprivation can cause for parents and kids alike.

The team have been speaking to parents from across the UK who have particularly difficult sleep situations to deal with and the show’s experts will be helping some of those parents get their kids into a bedtime routine that works for all the family.

How lucky am I to be working in a job that reflects some of my life? Emma Hill talks about the job she heard about through Media Parents.

How lucky am I to be working in a job that reflects some of my life? Being a working parent and trying to make sure everyone in the family gets enough sleep is a challenge all of us face at one time or another. (I know I need all the help I can get!)

The show’s team are still looking for contributors. So, if you have a child with sleep problems – or know someone who does – do get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

We’re on Twitter @BedtimeLive24, Facebook and you can call us on 0207 438 1809 or email us at sleep@twofour.co.uk.

Bedtime Live premieres on Channel 4 from mid-March.

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/4770/emma-hill

Emma Hill

I have worked as digital/interactive/online producer for high profile broadcast-related projects and within digital design and build agencies. As a freelancer, my clients have included: Channel 4/Endemol; BBC; Disney; Discovery Communications and Granada Media.

In addition to this, I am an emerging drama scriptwriter and I am currently a participant on the Street Voices 4 scheme, taught by Mark Catley and run by Freedom Studios.

February 8, 2013 @ 7:28 pm Posted in News Leave a comment

Media Parents Technical Catch Up

by Amy Walker

40 Media Parents members enjoyed a bit of networking before Pro Motion Hire staff informed and entertained us at Thursday's Technical Catch Up

Huge thanks to Caroline Bingham and the Pro Motion Hire team who hosted, informed and entertained 40 Media Parents members at Thursday’s technical catch up in Lambeth. It was great to hear advice on cameras and workflow, and tips on which cameras cut better with which, the easiest way to corrupt a data card (and how to avoid it) and Alain’s wisdom on which cameras suit which jobs and which budgets. Thank you to Production Manager Jessica Goodman for taking photos of the event, and to PD Evy Barry for writing the text below.

Caroline Bingham, Business Development Exec, Rosie Radnor and Jude Prior, Business Support for Pro Motion Hire at Thursday's event. If you would like to contact Caroline please use the Media Parents Network, here: http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/collaborator/4861/caroline-bingham

The technical catch up at Pro Motion hire was an incredibly useful run through of all the need to know developments of the last twelve months, writes Evy Barry, Shooting PD.

Katie Thomas: The Canon C300 has been the most popular camera recently.

Katie Thomas explained that the C300 had been the most in demand and hired camera of recent times.  As a development from the Canon DSLR cameras like the 7D and the 5D Mark II it has the beautiful shallow depth of field we all love – enabling really cinematic pictures –  but the thing to remember is that because it is based on a stills camera – it takes people with a bit more expertise than other video cameras like the Canon XF305 to operate.  A knowledge of lenses in particular is important.  Amateurs stay away!

Outline HoP Susie Dark and ITN's Production Exec Bella Barr were amongst the audience of Media Parents members. To join us please go to www.mediaparents.co.uk

Technical Manager Alain Lolliot demonstrated a range of cameras at Pro Motion Hire.

Alain Lolliot then rolled through the technical advantages and disadvantages of some of the other cameras.  The Canon XF305 has been the camera many production companies have invested in because it shoots true HD at 50mb/s and because it is on the BBC list of approved cameras.  The downside though is that because its sensor size is only a third instead of a half inch it doesn’t operate well in low light conditions.

The PMW-200 on the other hand has a sensor of half and inch and therefore performs well in these conditions.  So why wouldn’t you just go for this?  The SxS cards it uses are a lot more expensive (about £300 for a 32 GB) than the canon camera cards – of which sandisk are the most reliable (roughly £60 for 32GB card – depending where you shop)…..

PD Evy Barry far left of frame in the audience at Pro Motion Hire's technical catch up.

Alain took questions from the floor throughout the demonstrations. Here Bella Barr interjects on the tech spec she is asked to deliver at ITN.

One other camera that Alain said he couldn’t believe wasn’t hired more and does amazing things in slow mo is the NEX-FS700.  Good for shooting specific shots like rain falling or any stylised slow motion requirements of a production.   It can shoot at 100 frames per second, 200, and also 400, 800 – although on these last two settings you get quality loss and it halves the field of view.

There was a chance for SP Sally Weale and other Media Parents members to ask specific questions afterwards.

As for the tapeless work flow – you will need plug-ins to transcode the footage into the edit, which you can download for free….. and one top tip – don’t for goodness sake rename the CONTENTS folder as something else or when the system searches for it, it won’t find it….also funny how when we used tape, the archive was stored once – but now we need to save the media twice to be insured…..and apparently storing media on drives should be as short a term thing as you can manage.

Perhaps not difficult to see why we all find tape so reassuring when you think about that moment when you are clearing your camera card and it asks if you want to delete the media and you have to be brave… Shiver…

Zan Barberton has a chance to pass Rosie to someone else and get her hands on the kit.

Linzi Young from Angel Eye catches up with Media Parents' Amy Walker.

Head of Production Kelly Close found the event useful.

Anna Melin, Series Production Manager took time out from making Dispatches for October Films to attend.

Rosie definitely stole the show though. Many thanks to all at Pro Motion Hire, and Media Parents members Evy Barry and Jessica Goodman for text and photos.

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/385/evy-barry

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/124/jessica-goodman

If you have 3+ years TV experience please join us at www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, networking and events.

February 4, 2013 @ 4:10 pm Posted in News Comments Off