Media Parents

Monthly Archives: March 2013

Cineflix Productions meets Media Parents Gallery

by Amy Walker

On Tuesday 26th March Cineflix Productions threw open the doors of its UK headquarters to meet Media Parents talent. MD Camilla Lewis welcomed the crowd of 45 freelancers, speaking about the flexible approach that Cineflix has adopted: “Presenteeism doesn’t exist at this company. We see flexible working as commercially viable, but also realise the value of having children as a massive motivator… Above all we would like people to come back and work with us at Cineflix again.”

Camilla Lewis, Cineflix MD: "Presenteeism doesn't exist at this company..."

Media Parents mingled with the Cineflix and talent team, including Cineflix Productions’ Creative Director Rob Carey and MD Camilla Lewis, in an informal networking evening. Huge thanks to all at Cineflix, particularly Director of Talent Jessica Wilson, and Libby Barr, Operations Manager, for all their work in setting up the event internally. Herefollow photos and quotes from the evening. If you would like to hold or take part in a similar event please contact us through www.mediaparents.co.uk

"Above all we would like people to come back and work with us at Cineflix again" said Cineflix UK's MD Camilla Lewis, before meeting Media Parents freelancers.

Rob Carey, Creative Director for Cineflix, welcomes the crowd before mingling. Jessica Wilson, centre, Cineflix Director of Talent, looks on.

"I have been through a lot of job sites and networking events since my arrival in London and Media Parents has been great - everyone is so accessible and helpful." Cindy De Pasquale, PD / SP

Cineflix Exec Sue Davidson talks to Clare Richards, PD. Jessica Wilson, Cineflix Talent Director in background. Clare Richards "I am useless at networking but I had a really good time and met some great people, I will definitely come to the next one."

Cineflix Production Exec Paul Day with freelancers. Abdullai Adejumo, PD: "I'll admit to being a bit tentative about attending because I sort of dread networking events but I had a fantastic time. Everyone was really friendly and Cineflix themselves were so welcoming."

Carrie Britton, Talent Manager, will be joining Cineflix from the BBC to cover Jessica Wilson's maternity leave.

Gail Morrison, PM, with Media Parents Director and SP Amy Walker. "I found work through Media Parents after taking five years out to have my children - and I haven't looked back since that job. Tonight has been the first time I've been able to attend an event and Cineflix have created a great atmosphere."

Cineflix Exec Nick Cory-Wright with Exec Producer Gillian Tierney: "Thank you so much for organising such a useful and friendly event. I met lots of great people and hope to catch up further soon".

"I found it interesting, informative and enjoyable. I think the small nature and informal way of networking, not to mention all at cineflix made it a huge success." Caroline Long, PM

"Thanks for setting this one up, it was a particularly relaxed atmosphere I thought. The Cineflix staff were all very welcoming and approachable. Just the right amount of people too, not too much waiting around to speak to an Exec/Talent Manager. And always lovely to meet new Media Parents members and re-connect with several people I'd worked with before". Sue Bennett, Edit Producer

Cineflix Exec Jane Aldous, left with Media Parents freelancers. "Thanks for Tuesday night.... it was good to see people I haven't seen for years! Look forward to any other events you might have coming up. Who knows, the worst may happen and I might end up with a job!" Mike Ratcliffe, SP

"A really nice atmosphere and a great mix of people both from within Cineflix and Media Parents. Had productive chats about forthcoming series with the Cineflix execs and also Jessica Wilson." Sally Weale, PD/ SP

Cineflix Jnr Production Exec Ruth Cody, centre, has also found work through Media Parents!

PD Meyrick Cook, left, was happy that he'd found work through Media Parents too. "Just wanted to say thanks so much for organising the networking event, it's the first one that I have been to and it was great to meet other freelancers, as well as the people from Cineflix. Once again thanks a lot." Annette Simpkins, PD

“Thanks for organising the event it was enjoyable. You will be happy to know I chatted to a number of fellow Media Parents and also had a good catch up chat with Camilla and Nick Cory-Wright.” Glenn Barden, SP

Huge thanks to everyone from Cineflix and Media Parents who attended and made the evening a great success, see you at another one soon.

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

March 28, 2013 @ 2:48 pm Posted in News Leave a comment

BAFTA SEARCHES FOR THE BRITISH COMEDY STARS OF THE FUTURE

by Amy Walker

New comedy writers will have their work showcased at the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival and the New York Television Festival. Call for applications now open!

London, 27 March: The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) and Rocliffe today announced a call out for scripts from emerging comedy screenwriters for a chance to showcase their work in front of the cream of the UK and US television industry at two major international television festivals. For the first time, the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum will take place at the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival (GEITF) in August, as well as for a third consecutive year at the New York Television Festival (NYTVF) in October.

Places for both events are open to British UK-based comedy screenwriters who have not yet had a television series commissioned, although they may have broadcast writing credits. The successful entries will be selected by an industry jury of comedy professionals from the UK and US. The jury for the NYTVF in 2012 included Jennifer Saunders, Chris Addison, Vicki Pepperdine, Andrew Newman, Damon Beesley, John Morton, Kevin Cecil, Mark Freeland, Shane Allen, Margot Gavan Duffy, Jill Offman, Saskia Schuster.

Last year's winning entry was performed by actors in front of an audience. See link below for how to apply.

BAFTA, with its branches in New York and in Scotland, and Rocliffe are offering this opportunity in partnership with British Airways, GEITF and the NYTVF, and the chosen writers will receive:

  • ·         A BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum showcase featuring professional actors performing their work in front of an industry audience at MGEITF or the NYTVF. Audience members across the festivals will include representatives from BBC, Channel 4, ITV, Sky, Comedy Central, Sky, FOX, FX, VH1, MTV, IFC and major independent production companies;
  • ·         Feedback during the event from top TV industry guests – gaining vital tips and encouragement. Previous guests at NYTVF have included Jenni Konner (Girls) and Phil Rosenthal (Everybody Loves Raymond);
  • ·         One-to-one development mentoring sessions by top UK and US comedy commissioners and independent production companies;
  • ·         A MGEITF festival pass and/or a New York Television Festival ‘Official Artist’ pass;
  • ·         Pitch training;
  • ·         Travel and accommodation for the festival for which they are selected;
  • ·         One-to-one meetings with top UK talent agents;
  • ·         Bespoke industry networking opportunities.

The writers who took part in last year’s NYTVF have received a very positive reception to their work. Writing partners Matthew Barry and Kayleigh Llewellyn said: “Winning BAFTA Rocliffe New York 2012 was akin to being awarded a Golden Ticket into the industry. It was the launching pad we needed to bring our project to the attention of the top comedy commissioners. Since returning from New York our script,Grey, has been optioned by Company Pictures and is currently in development with the BBC for a BBC One primetime series. We are also developing a second project with Objective Productions and have signed with a top literary agent. All of these opportunities were afforded to us because of BAFTA Rocliffe.”

Sarah Courtauld has been hired as a writer on a new sketch show, The Kerry Howard Show, slated for BBC Three in 2013, she also won the Hasbro Studios development deal with a children’s TV concept, Buckle and Swash at the NYTVF in 2012.

Jury Chair Andrew Newman, said: “We encourage any budding comedy writer, whatever their background, to apply. Participants will continue the legacy of the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum which, for over 13 years now, has helped launch the careers of new writing talent.”

Director of the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, Louise Benson said:

”The TV Festival is constantly seeking ways to identify and support new talent so I’m very proud to be partnering with BAFTA and Rocliffe. The scheme will join a suite of opportunities we provide for stars of the future and I can’t wait to see the finalists’ work in Edinburgh!”

Founder and Executive Director of the NYTVF, Terence Gray, said: “We’re honored to continue our relationship with BAFTA and Rocliffe and look forward to welcoming the 2013 writers to the NYTVF in October. There’s an incredible demand for great comedic voices and creators in the US television market right now and we’re thrilled that this unique partnership provides a viable State-side showcase for great UK-based talent.”

Farah Abushwesha co-founder of Rocliffe said: “We have seen first-time writers plucked from obscurity to become the next new players on the television comedy stage with both option deals and representation. It proves UK talent has universal appeal.  This scheme is about supporting new writers, finding the diamonds in the rough, giving their work the polish it deserves and ultimately helping them gain paid employment.”

The closing date for entries for the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum at the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival (GEITF) and the New York Television Festival (NYTVF) is 22 May, 2013. Applicants must submit a ten page extract from their sit-com or sketch show for consideration for the schemes. Each script will be considered for both events albeit different writers may be selected for each event.

All writers who submit receive an industry standard report to enable them to progress their idea.

@BAFTA and @Rocliffeforum will hold several online tweetups to answer writers’ questions, using the hashtag #EnterRocliffe.

Full application details and terms and conditions can be found at:

http://www.bafta.org/about/supporting-talent/rocliffe/.

March 27, 2013 @ 5:24 pm Posted in News Comments Off

Cineflix Productions meets Media Parents – who’s coming…

by Amy Walker

On Tuesday 26th March, Cineflix Productions will be inviting 45 people from the Media Parents talent section to its London HQ for an evening of networking. Attending from Cineflix will be…

Camilla Lewis, MD, Cineflix Productions UK

Camilla Lewis Managing Director, Cineflix Productions UK

Based in the London production office, Camilla Lewis is in charge of increasing Cineflix’s prime-time factual and factual entertainment commissions from all the UK’s major channels. She is also the Executive Producer for Claimed and Shamed, and World’s Maddest Job Interview. Working alongside Rob Carey, Global Creative Director, Camilla reports to Simon Lloyd, CEO of Programming.

Prior to Cineflix, Camilla was the Head of Factual Features at Talkback Thames where she oversaw the producer’s factual brands including some of the U.K.’s biggest rating formats such as Grand Designs, Property Ladder, Great British Railway Journeys, and Four Rooms.

Camilla began her career producing factual and current affairs strands including WATCHDOG. In 2001, Camilla became Deputy Editor of TOMORROW’S WORLD before being appointed Head of Factual at CBBC, where she commissioned and executive produced all factual programming, including RTS and BAFTA winners. In 2003, she became an Executive Producer in the BBC’s specialist factual department, responsible for output including, Trauma and Should I Worry About…?

Jessica Wilson Director of Talent, UK, Cineflix Productions

As Director of Talent for Cineflix in the UK, Jessica Wilson works closely with production and senior staff to determine hiring needs on a show-by-show basis. She develops and executes recruiting plans, and maintains and establishes new relationships to expand talent searches. Jessica reports to Pixie Black, Head of Talent, and is based in the London office.

A BAFTA Award-winning Series Producer, Jessica has more than 15 years television experience in talent management, producing, and directing. Prior to Cineflix, she scouted talent for BBC, and acted as Series Producer on Children in Need, Wild About Art, and Gimme A Break. Among others, she was a Senior Producer on The Apprentice, Executive Producer on My World, and the Producer/Director of Behind These Hazel Eyes, a one-hour documentary on Kelly Clarkson.

Nick Cory-Wright Senior Executive Producer

Reporting to Simon Lloyd and Rob Carey, Nick Cory-Wright oversees all of Cineflix’s output. Nick has also served as the Executive Producer of Claimed and Shamed, For Rent Seasons 4 and 5, Pet School, Design Dealers, Urban Legends, Eat Yourself Sexy, and Colin & Justin’s Home Heist.

Before joining Cineflix, Nick was Executive Producer and Series Producer on a number of successful series for the BBC, C4, and Five in the UK, and Discovery and TLC in the United States.

Nick’s career has spanned a wide variety of subjects, styles, and formats. He has produced music and arts documentaries, comedy, factual, light entertainment programmes, and the taboo-breaking Eurotrash.  Nick’s credits include Johnny Vaughan Tonight on BBC2, Orcadia on C4, I love the ‘80s for BBC2, The Curse Of for Five, The Most Annoying for BBC3, and Share the Shame on TLC.

Paul Day Production Executive

Paul Day is a Production Executive at our CPUK office in London, overseeing programmes including Claimed and Shamed, Salvage Hunters, and East Coast Trains. Paul joined Cineflix in 2009 as Vice President, Branded Content Partnerships. He brought a seasoned approach to developing and promoting ad-funded production opportunities, web-based initiatives, and digital platform content.

Paul has nearly two decades of experience in the television industry. Prior to Cineflix, he was Director of Branded Content at Eyeworks and was Head of Production for Atlt Productions, managing a wide range of programmes such as live music shows, daily entertainment magazines, and award-winning documentaries. Paul also served as Head of Production at Brighter Pictures (Endemol).

Rob Carey, Creative Director, Cineflix Productions

Rob Carey Creative Director, Cineflix Productions

Rob Carey is responsible for the creative direction and development of the company’s entire range of programmes in all genres in the U.K. and North America. Rob works alongside CEO of Programming Simon Lloyd, Head of Development Iain Taylor, and Programming EVPs Joe Houlihan and Charles Tremayne. Current Cineflix shows that Rob co-created include Gemini Award-winning Nazi Hunters (History), Gemini Award-nominated William Shatner’s Weird or What? (Discovery), Family Food Fight (Channel Five), Campus PD (G4), Eat Yourself Sexy (W), World’s Greenest Homes (Planet Green), Dinner Party Wars (Food), The Unsellables (BBC), Animals At Work (BBC), and Robostar (BBC).

Before joining Cineflix in 2007, Rob was Head of Factual Entertainment for At It Productions, and Creative Director, Factual Entertainment and Features for Mentorn Productions. At Mentorn, Rob co-created and Executive Produced Britain’s Worst Driver which grew into the highly successful ‘Worst’ franchise, producing 10 series over four years with the format selling in more than 25 countries.  In 2008 he won the Rose D’Or in Montreaux for another format he created for the BBC, Hider In The House, which has also sold extensively worldwide. Rob has produced and directed many Factual Entertainment shows including The Real Holiday Show, Moving People (Channel 4), Take My Mother-In-Law (ITV1), and Work Out (Bravo US), in addition to factual projects including Osama Bin Laden – The World’s Most Wanted Man, Most Evil Men In History (Five), and Disaster Masters (BBC One).

Sue Davidson Executive Producer

As an Executive Producer for Cineflix Productions, Sue Davidson oversees the development of new factual entertainment projects in the UK, and is currently working on a documentary series about the East Coast train line for Sky 1. Sue is based in Cineflix’s London Office.

Before joining Cineflix, Sue served as a Factual Entertainment Commissioning Executive at BSkyB. Prior to that, Sue was an Executive Producer at Renegade Pictures where she worked on BBC2’s series World’s Most Dangerous Roads and Beeny’s Restoration Nightmare for C4. She was also a Commissioning Editor, Factual, at Channel 5 where she was responsible for programmes such as Extraordinary People, Combat Chefs, My Strange Brain, and Highland Emergency.

Sue has worked as an Executive Producer, Series Producer, and Producer/Director across a variety of factual programmes throughout her career.  Her credits include The Apprentice and Junior Apprentice (BBC1), Brat Camp (C4), Bad Lads Army (ITV), Little Angels (BBC 3), Posh Plumbers (BBC1), and the Royal Television Society-nominated Gold Fever (BBC1).

Executive Producer Jane Aldous will also be attending, along with Ruth Cody, Junior Production Exec.

Amy Walker and Claire Brown will be attending from Media Parents, with a host of brilliant Media Parents talent.

March 19, 2013 @ 10:46 pm Posted in News Comments Off

5 Minutes with… Lorraine Heggessey, Chief Executive, Boom Pictures

by Amy Walker

Lorraine Heggessey is a TV powerhouse. Trailblazing as the first female controller of BBC1, then Chief Exec of TalkbackThames, she is now heading up Boom Pictures, a new group of companies which houses, amongst others, Indus, Oxford Scientific Films, Boomerang and Delightful Pictures, and will soon welcome ITV’s Laura Mackie and Sally Haines.  Neither womanhood, nor motherhood, has held Heggessey back: “I never felt that there was any barrier to me as a woman, and I always felt that there were people encouraging me.”

Lorraine Heggessey on her career: “I never felt that there was any barrier to me as a woman, and I always felt that there were people encouraging me.”

So how has she acheived all of this, and had a family too? She laughs “I just got on with it!… I’m quite a full on person – I think that I’m very lucky in that I’m quite an energetic person – and I’m a very positive person.” Married to a musician, he gigged in the evenings and looked after the kids in the day. They had a part time nanny, then over time “Mr. Heggessey” took over the childcare “like a stay-at-home wife”. When she moved from a staff job to work freelance for an indie Heggessey agreed to do it on her own terms: “I said ‘you’ve got to guarantee me nine months’ work out of the year at least’. I had to negotiate – I was the major earner. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.” You’ll never know if you don’t ask, or don’t try: “Don’t circumscribe your own ambition – go for it – you might not get it – but go for it.”

"Don't circumscribe your own ambition..."

That’s certainly been Heggessey’s motto, although she describes herself as not having had a career plan, “zigzagging” from job to job. “I’ve done a lot of different things. When I got to BBC1 that made sense backwards.” She took the jobs because they interested her. “I think it’s really important to be yourself and pick jobs that suit that self. If you force yourself to be a square peg in a round hole you’re never going to be that happy… I think life is too short to push yourself to do jobs you think you ought to – just do jobs that make you happy, because if you’re happy the likelihood is you will do your job well and be successful.”

Heggessey’s career is like a Who’s Who of TV. It’s patently obvious that she is loyal to people whose talent she respects, and that she loves her work: ”I bridle slightly when people talk about work life balance because it’s not like work isn’t part of your life.” She doesn’t feel she has made sacrifices for her career: “I’ve always looked at is as making positive choices rather than making sacrifices – I’ve made choices about being a parent.” She has described running the BBC Children’s Department when her children were young as the next best thing to running Hamley’s and talks warmly about her children’s visibility in her workplace, their set visits to their favourite shows.

Despite her confidence and drive, Lorraine Heggessey is also somehow humble, her Wiki page mentions getting on to the BBC Trainee Scheme second time round, she has publicly said “everybody has something to learn from everybody” – and she really means it. She is open about working with an executive coach when she was exec producing: “She was the one who made me think more about progressing up more of a managerial career ladder… I would recommend using a coach. I think mentors are really good too… It’s really good for people to have positive role models… Suddenly things become more possible once someone has done it already.”

Wanting to start a family shouldn't hold you back - or be put on hold. "There's never a right or wrong time to do it - your career will work around you having children."

So how did she feel about taking on the BBC One Controller role? “I was terrified – I think I quite like being terrified. If I’m not terrified I get a little bit bored. I am the kind of person who likes to be stretched…  Whether it’s taking skills from current affairs and then becoming a science producer … Or running a children’s department then running a channel… Commissioning and launching a show like Strictly Come Dancing was a proud moment – it may not seem like it now but at the time putting ballroom dancing on primetime TV was a bit of a risk.”

And she is also adamant that wanting to start a family shouldn’t hold you back – or be put on hold. “There’s never a right or wrong time to do it – your career will work around you having children.” When she had her second child she negotiated a contract as a freelancer with Peter Salmon. “I had the baby in December, and we went into pre-production in January. I went back one day a week in January, two days a week in February, in March, three days. I could take her into work because I wasn’t in every day. I was staff when I had my first baby, freelance when I had my second so I just had to get on with it… I’ve never tried to hide the fact that I had  family, you’ve just got to be yourself.”

Heggessey makes the point that a career break need not affect you, not when we will all be working ’til we’re seventy. Will she have to? “I don’t think I will want to stop…” For now she is excited by the prospect of Netflix commissioning original programming and creating its own content, and the implications for Boom Pictures: “Hopefully that market will continue to grow for me and other companies… Boom is a follow on… Chief Exec of Talkback was my first properly commercial experience… I got to the stage where I thought ‘I want to do my own thing – I want to do something in my image with my values.’” In her own image and with her own values, Boom could not be more aptly named.

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

Please read more inspiring tips on management from Lorraine Heggessey here: http://kickingassets.co.uk/how-to-motivate-your-team-l

March 8, 2013 @ 7:58 am Posted in News Leave a comment

5 minutes with… Sam Farmar, PD

by Amy Walker

On the 5th March 2012 an online video was launched that, within hours, was on its way to becoming the then most watched viral video of all time. In less than 6 days it reached a hundred million viewers and #KONY2012 dominated twitter worldwide. A year on, Media Parents PD Sam Farmar writes about filming the only interview with Joseph Kony that exists to this day.

PD Sam Farmar is in the TALENT section of Media Parents. He writes below about tracking Joseph Kony, LRA leader.

The controversial 29-minute video was designed to make Africa’s most wanted war criminal, Joseph Kony the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) infamous so that he might be captured and tried for crimes against humanity. The film was met by a furious backlash from the international media and within days President Obama was being badgered by his own children into taking action. Within a month a hundred US elite Special Forces commandos were sent to track down Joseph Kony. They were not known to be successful.

In June 2006, working freelance and without any sort of commission in place, I set off to interview Joseph Kony on camera and challenge the Lord’s Resistance Army leader on the massacres, mutilations and mystical spirits that make him Africa’s most wanted man – to this day it remains the only interview Kony has ever given. Below is the account of how the meeting came about.

One of the LRA gunners sent to escort PD Sam Farmar through the Congolese jungle.

I first heard of Joseph Kony and the LRA in 1995 when I was working in a sprawling refugee camp in Northern Ugandan before heading to university. One night Kony’s forces stormed the camp, attacking and looting the already impoverished refugees and leaving many dead. I wasn’t caught up in the immediate attack, but as morning broke I soon became all too aware of the sweeping fear that engulfed the terrified crowds. Tales of atrocities proliferated: massacres of whole villages, mutilations, children abducted and forced to kill and even eat their victims.

The LRA combines the fanaticism of a cult with ruthless military efficiency, and while its apparent aim is to impose the Ten Commandments on Uganda, its means could scarcely be more evil. It was on hearing these tragic stories that I made it my mission to track down Kony and confront the man behind the attacks, putting out feelers wherever I could. It seemed an impossible task but with the help of Mareike Schomerus an indefatigable researcher and academic we set about making contact with everyone and anyone who had ever had any association with Kony; family members, former negotiators, politicians, LRA escapees, aid workers, military advisors…. After a year of tirelessly pushing door after door and racking up thousands of pounds in satellite phone calls, all on our own personal budgets, we finally got word: Kony will meet us.

Sam Farmar about to film with Joseph Kony and the LRA. http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/5341/sam-farmar

I literally couldn’t believe it. After what had become a grueling test of perseverance an dogged determination it just may actually happen. I raced home, high-fived my flat mates, sunk a curry, booked a flight and packed my camera. Within twenty-four hours I was in Nairobi airport. I was met by Dennis and Ray, undercover LRA commanders who certainly did not look like bush fighters. Dennis wore a boy-band denim cap, Ray a tight Ben Sherman shirt.

As we flew on to Juba, Ray explained why he had joined the LRA. “I had no choice,” he said. “They just came and abducted me at 14. Many times I tried to escape but it was not easy — they can punish you badly. If you are unlucky you may lose your life.” Tears welled in his eyes. Ray introduced me to Sunday; a comrade who said he had been abducted at the age of 7 but now regarded the LRA as family.

We waited for a week as the LRA men checked me out. They were so suspicious that they had originally proposed buying us new cameras lest ours were fitted with devices that would betray Kony’s location.

"We waited for a week as the LRA men checked me out" Sam Farmar, PD, the only person to have interviewed Joseph Kony.

I wasn’t actually scared, with so much over the phone planning before this point I felt pretty confident that Kony wanted to meet us as much as we wanted to meet him. In his mind he no doubt hoped that we could be manipulated and charmed enough to give the LRA some positive PR, at a time when they weren’t as strong as they would have like to have been.

I was also confident that we had put in place all we could to mitigate the risks; for our own security we had told very few people what we were doing – if our location had got out then Kony himself may have felt compromised and could potentially act irrationally. Besides, it is said ‘worry doesn’t empty tomorrow of sorrow but empties today of strength’ – and we needed every last ounce of strength we could get.

Finally Riek Machar, a former Sudanese warlord with a degree from Bradford University, and the vice-president of southern Sudan, arrived. Mr Machar announced that he would come with us to meet Kony. The next day, accompanied by 40 Sudanese soldiers, we boarded a charter flight to Maridi; the closest Sudanese airstrip to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

LRA Leader Joseph Kony.

We arrived and piled into a convoy heading straight into the jungle on a rutted track of deep red mud. Two days later my satellite phone showed that we had crossed the border into Congo. After a short while we stopped and two LRA fighters armed with Kalashnikovs jumped in. Their eyes were blank and bloodshot, their hair in dreadlocks, and strings of bullets hung around their necks. We looked at each other and said nothing. Outside, another fighter called ‘Knee of a Dog’ talked on a satellite phone, juggling our meeting place until the very last moment. Finally we reached a clearing where we found ourselves surrounded by camouflaged LRA combatants carrying M16 rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. They never let down their guard, and they clearly lived in constant fear of Kony, to whom they attributed mystical powers. Sunday said that if he tried to escape, Kony’s spirit would seek him out to harm him. When I asked whether the LRA would disintegrate if Kony died, he struggled to comprehend the question. “Kony would never die,” he said. “I’m sure he cannot be killed.”

There we waited until Knee of a Dog received another call. We walked single file along a narrow path hemmed in by impenetrable vegetation. I began to wonder if I would recognise a man of whom there are so few pictures.

For more than two and half decades Kony has thwarted every effort to capture him, but now he was in front of me, in green Ugandan army uniform, and surrounded by a ragtag group of heavily armed guards who regard him with manifest awe. He wore a blue beret, a red sash over his shoulder, and green Wellington boots.

He was taller that I expected — perhaps 6ft 1in (1.8m) — and looked younger than his 46 years. He grinned at me, exposing two chipped and blackened front teeth, then shook my hand:

“I’m a freedom fighter who is fighting for freedom in Uganda,” he tells me. “I am not a terrorist.

We only spoke briefly that night; our real conversation was to take place the following day – before long he left, I set up my small green tent and exhausted fell asleep.

Joseph Kony being interviewed by Sam Farmar.

Early the next morning I was taken to another, smaller clearing where Kony had spent the night on a ‘mattress’ of cut grass. He was wearing a T-shirt, sitting on a brown plastic chair, drinking tea from a pink plastic cup and eating a ‘mandazi’, a sort of doughnut. He greeted me in English: “Come on, Sam. Eat breakfast!”

But the cheeriness vanished when we tried to attach a microphone. He had never seen one before, and feared that it was a tracking device. It was a rambling conversation, with Kony speaking in poor English, but for someone giving his first interview he seemed remarkably natural. “I am a human being like you,” he declared. “I have eyes, a brain and wear clothes, but they are saying ‘we don’t talk with people, we eat people. We are killer’. That is not true. Why do you meet me if I am a killer?”

He insisted that he was not the monster his reputation suggests, that the atrocities of which he is accused are trumped up to blacken his name.

Asked about the killings, abductions and mutilations perpetrated in his name, he replied: “That is not true. It’s just propaganda by Museveni, the Ugandan President, he went into the villages and cut off the ears of the people, telling the people that it was the work of the LRA. I cannot cut the ear of my brother, I cannot kill the eye of my brother.”

Youths joined the LRA voluntarily and were never abducted, he claimed. “I don’t have acres of maize, of onion, of cabbages. I don’t have food. If I abducted children like that, here in the bush, what do they eat?” Asked about the International Criminal court charges against him, he insisted: “I am not guilty.”

He was guided by spirits, he said. “They speak to me. They load through me. They will tell us what is going to happen. They say, “You, Mr Joseph, tell your people that the enemy is planning to come and attack”. They will come like dreaming, they will tell us everything. You know, we are guerrilla. We are rebel. We don’t have medicine. But with the help of spirit they will tell to us, ‘you Mr Joseph go and take this thing and that thing’.”

Perhaps the spirits are still protecting Kony because despite the unprecedented attention and rumors that he is dead, Kony is very much still alive. Only last month I was in east Africa and although I didn’t speak to Kony personally I am in touch with many of his closest commanders and his arms dealer and he is continuing to ruthlessly kill and abduct children. Kony 2012 may have been controversial and a surprising viral sensation but the core message is good and remains true to this day. Stop Kony.

Below is a link to an extract of the short film I produced, directed and shot about meeting Kony and later sold to BBC Newnight and numerous other broadcasters around the world.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdBcypx1DfE

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/5341/sam-farmar

Sam Farmar is an experienced freelance self-shooting PD, living in London. He helped initiate and worked as the development producer on BBC3′s ‘Our War’ – that last year won a BAFTA for Best Factual TV Series. He shot, directed and produced a few of Channel Four’s critically acclaimed  ‘Unreported World’s and worked on Louis Theroux’s latest series.  He holds a valid conflict and hostile environment certificate and a US I Visa. Sam Farmar can be contacted through the TALENT section of http://www.mediaparents.co.uk

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/5341/sam-farmar

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

March 4, 2013 @ 10:42 pm Posted in News Comments Off

getting ready for International Women’s Day on March 8th

by Amy Walker

ITV Diversity Manager Miranda Wayland phoned me and asked me to be on a panel of industry women discussing women in TV for International Women’s Day. I was honoured – they’d had a cancellation…

In the Daybreak gallery... freelance studio director Jo Johns at the controls.

Miranda Wayland, Diversity Manager for ITV, which is also running the CDN (Creative Diversity Network) this year.

ITV is hosting the Creative Diversity Network this year (see link below) so the discussion intended to inspire women in their TV careers is one of Miranda’s innovations. The filming took place on the Daybreak set, and will be shown on ITV’s diversity page Move On Up, and on the Creative Diversity Network’s site too. Being in front of the camera for the first time was one of the most terrifying experiences of my career to date. It was definitely payback after 15 years of persuading other people to do it.

Fortunately I was in great company. The discussion was led by ITN reporter Ronke Phillips, who recently won an Amnesty International award for journalism – she had dashed out of an edit to be with us.  Carol Russell, writer and founder of Fresh Voices which presents the work of experienced black British writers to an invited industry audience was also on the sofa, with SP Alison Martin.  Alison had been working upstairs at ITV where she is series producing Martin Lewis’s Money Savings Expert, and has written on women’s issues for the Media Parents blog here: http://blog.mediaparents.co.uk/2010/12/tv-no-career-for-a-woman-rts-debate/

I am passionate about this subject so I think I might have ranted, but although I came over a bit more Arthur Scargill than Glenda Jackson on the day, when the film comes out I hope the discussion makes people think, and gives women more confidence to ask for what they want/deserve in the workplace.

On screen at last!! Amy Walker, Carol Russell and Media Parents' Amy Walker.

SP Alison Martin, left, and Ronke Phillips prep the piece on inspiring women in TV.

Creative Diversity Network : http://www.creativediversitynetwork.org

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

@ 11:24 am Posted in News Comments Off

Cineflix Productions meets Media Parents, March 26th 2013

by Amy Walker

Media Parents is delighted to announce that Cineflix Productions, makers of Claimed and Shamed (BBC1), Channel 4 goes mad, Pet School (CBBC), Air Crash Investigation (National Geographic) and Salvage Hunters (Discovery) will be hosting a networking evening with Media Parents on March 26th.

Jessica Wilson (2nd from right), Director of Talent for Cineflix Productions at the Media Parents summer party.

They’ll be throwing open the doors of the Cineflix Productions HQ and would like to meet up to forty Media Parents members who are

Exec Producers, SPs, PDs, PDs (Self Shooting), APs, APs (Self Shooting), Production Managers, Production Coordinators, Casting Producers /APs from the following genres: Factual, Specialist Factual, Fact Ent and Docs.

Please read details of how to apply on the Media Parents watercooler. You may wish to book the babysitter now, as we may not be able to confirm places until March 22nd.

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

March 1, 2013 @ 3:07 pm Posted in News Comments Off