Media Parents

Monthly Archives: April 2013

5 minutes with… Radica Anikpe on International Women’s Day

by Amy Walker

Did you know that childbirth is STILL the biggest killer of young women in the world? Shocking isn’t it? If you aren’t shocked by that fact, you’d better check that you are still breathing – I’d put a pound to a penny that you are an actual member of the walking dead. Take a moment. Let it sink in. Imagine all of the human talent that is lost, bringing the next generation into the world, writes Radica Anikpe, who attended International Women’s Day celebrations on London’s South Bank, on behalf of Media Parents.

Radica is a scriptwriter, presenter and v/o artist who has worked for BBC3, MTV and Radio 4. She is currently looking for work.

Celebrity mums, Helen Lederer, Gaby Roslin and Anna Chancellor, on behalf of the White Ribbon Alliance gathered a room full of people to discuss maternity around the world. The idea is to eventually publish a book filled with upbeat tales of maternity and motherhood.

What did we learn? Well, I was a little late to the Southbank Centre, so all hail the lovely security guard, who, sensing my rising panic, escorted me under the belly of the concrete beast, depositing me a mere lift ride away from the venue. So the first thing we learned was not to panic on route. Oh, and don’t imagine, just because the venue is a hop, skip and a jump from your house, that you will actually be able to get anywhere on a Friday night. Stagger, wait, wait and run, would be more accurate.

In Sierra Leone, a pregnant woman keeps her news of the impending arrival to herself, for as long as she can. A Bangladeshi doctor described her first pregnancy being joyfully celebrated at seven months – once the pregnancy is passed any trickiness. Interestingly, a lot of what would be considered “old wives tales” are generally borne out by science: the notion that a baby shouldn’t be allowed to bond with its mother until the placenta is out because a lot of women die during this time, has been proven by science.

The room was full of goodwill and warmth, and I was full of wine and mini sausages. At the end of the chats, we were all asked if we wanted to take a picture with a speech balloon that said; “hello mum”. I went home and kissed my sleeping mother on the head, but if your mama is further away right at this second, give her a call. Go on. She went to hell and back to get you here, least you can do is say hello.

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/4077/radica-anikpe

Radica is a scriptwriter, presenter and v/o artist who has penned words for Davina McCall, Kate Thornton and Cat Deeley, presented for MTV and BBC Three and voiced programmes on BBC2, the World Service and Radio 4. She is returning to work after time out, toiling in the domestic sphere, and is happy to consider any interesting offers.

If you have 3+ years TV experience please join us at www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, networking and events. To take part in ITN's corporate networking event please email us through www.mediaparents.co.uk ASAP

April 25, 2013 @ 12:38 pm Posted in News Leave a comment

5 minutes with… James O’Hara, (Corporate) Producer / Director

by Amy Walker

I originally studied film and photography at the Polytechnic of Central London, now the University of Westminster, writes James O’Hara. At the time, it was the only degree course in film and photography in the country. I thought I would be a stills photographer, but soon after I graduated I got the opportunity to work at the University of Sheffield’s educational television production unit as a photographer and film assistant, working with 16mm, where the seeds of my producing / directing career were sown.

College days, James O'Hara second from left. http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/4555/james-ohara

From Sheffield I moved to Manchester and joined Multivision. This was a large audiovisual and live events production company slowly taking its first, tentative steps into something new called ‘corporate video’ in the early ‘80s. Although I didn’t know a much about film and video production, I knew a lot more than many senior staff. At least I knew what an exotic shot called a ‘cutaway’ was and why it was needed. It was sink or swim and I’ve always been a swimmer, so I made sure I learnt a lot more about video production, very quickly.

In my early days in Manchester I was P/D on shoots crewed by freelance technicians 20 or 30 years older than me. They’d been DPs, cameramen, soundies, grips and sparks on some of Granada’s biggest dramas – Brideshead Revisited, Jewel in the Crown, Sherlock Holmes. I still dine out on the stories where freelancers never let the facts spoil a good story. I learnt so much from those freelancers; we all did. Manchester still has a rich pool of creative talent and many of the people I work with today learnt their craft working with the Granada old timers.

Directing and interviewing on EU Funding in the North West, Blackpool Pier. Mike Wood on camera and Martin Alimundo sound.

When I first arrived in Manchester we had one daughter, Natalie, and shortly after the move Lauren was born. I feel a bit of a fraud belonging to Media Parents because both my daughters are now in their twenties. They witnessed the long, long hours demanded by the media industry, and the days and nights away from home filming. Despite that, and despite my valiant attempts to persuade them otherwise, both my daughters now work in the media – Natalie is a writer, Lauren a stylist and designer. It must be genetic.

James O'Hara with his daughter Natalie many moons ago!

My career as a P/D – now freelance for over 10 years – continues. Working from home has its advantages, and the advent of post-production software that runs on laptops plus broadband, means my freelance editors and animators have also been able to work from home. In the last couple of weeks I’ve pitched for a short film for one of the world’s most scientifically advanced biotechnology companies, which would mean filming and interviewing Nobel-winning scientists and surgeons around the globe – so fingers crossed.  Next week I’ll be filming and interviewing politicians in Westminster, and we’re about to start casting for a short drama.

I’ve always believed you make about 90% of your own luck. Manchester’s been the other 10%, and I’ve been fortunate to work on some great projects. I’ve filmed and interviewed hundreds of people, from Prime Ministers and Secretaries of State to long-term unemployed and homeless people. I’ve made films for museum and heritage centres, including dramas recreating the Industrial Revolution and a film about John Ruskin.

I’ve been P/D on films and videos for some of the world’s leading brands and biggest business corporations. Along the way, I’ve written pitches and scripts, made presentations, chosen production teams, run shoots of international crews all over the world, directed graphics, animation and edits, always trying to squeeze more and more out of budgets that seem to get smaller every year. As we all do, I’ve juggled multiple jobs, conflicting deadlines and sometimes dealt with impossible client demands, and (most of the time) kept smiling.

James O'Hara directing a shoot for Scholl at the Pie Factory, MediaCity. Ferdia de Buitléar and Ben Tranfield on camera, Mike Mullen sound.

Manchester has always been a city of firsts: cradle of the Industrial Revolution; where scientists first split the atom and developed the first stored-program computer; the most visited city in England outside London…

The media have always had a home in Manchester – we’re far enough away from London to have developed as a true media city. Global ad agencies JWT and McCanns have had offices here forever and, of course, we have Granada/ITV and the BBC, plus some large, successful corporate communications companies specialising in video, live events and digital media.

And yet, over the past twenty years or so, Manchester has transformed and reinvented itself. One of the catalysts was the 1996 bombing, when on a Saturday morning, the IRA planted a huge 3,000 pound bomb outside Marks and Spencer in the city centre.  It was the day before Father’s Day and England was hosting the Euro Cup finals; Russia was playing Germany the following day at Old Trafford. So, not only was the city centre bustling with shoppers it was also full with football fans, many from abroad. Manchester Police estimate 75,000 – 80,000 people were in the city centre that morning. In the explosion, two hundred and twelve people were injured, but amazingly there were no fatalities.  Many buildings were damaged, some beyond repair. Subsequently, millions if not billions of pounds were invested in new buildings and infrastructure and Manchester had a new-found confidence. (Germany won 3-0 by the way).

Now Manchester’s media industry is driving more change, with MediaCity encouraging the BBC to move more key departments to the North West.   As someone who’s lived here quite a few years, it’s become noticeable that Manchester and Salford are becoming almost interchangeable city terms. Actually, MediaCity is in Salford. Manchester and Salford merge into each other, and it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins!

James O’Hara, PD and corporate producer can be found in the Media Parents TALENT section, link below.

• Highly experienced in all aspects of production and direction

• Excellent project management, organisation and communication skills

• Making presentations, writing tenders, concepts and treatments

• Fast and accurate budgeting

• Directing shoots of all sizes, on all camera formats, from the Arri Super 16 to the Arri Alexa, most Sony and Panasonic cameras, Canon DSLRs, Red Epic and Scarlet, high speed camera systems

• Interviewing and establishing a rapport with people from all walks of life including Prime Ministers, business leaders, people with complex medical problems, the young and elderly, homeless, disabled and long-term unemployed people

• Managing complex projects with numbers of films and videos simultaneously going through production; multiple shoots, edit suites and graphic designers

• Arranging and directing location filming across the globe including most of mainland Europe, the United States, the Middle East, India and Japan

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/4555/james-ohara

If you have 3+ years TV experience please join us at www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, networking and events. To take part in ITN's corporate networking event please email us through www.mediaparents.co.uk ASAP

April 23, 2013 @ 3:05 pm Posted in News 1 Comment

5 minutes with… Emma Lindley, director, writer, producer on researching for fiction

by Amy Walker

Seven Ways to Rise Above Your Research By Emma Lindley

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/5471/emma-lindley

Factual research for a work of fiction is a two edged sword. What you learn can be fascinating but it can also feel like you’ve dumped a big pile of rubbish all over your story that you now need to wade through and decide what’s useful and what’s trash. So how do you rise above your research and find the truth of your own story?

1. DON’T JUST CUT AND PASTE

It’s tempting when you find a juicy story or piece of information to plonk it straight into your script. Consider first how you want to use it, or why it is attractive to you? Does it fit with the story you are writing? If not, bin it.

2. TAKE TIME TO PROCESS

A lot of new information can be overwhelming. It could completely change the direction of your story.  This could be a good thing – or a huge distraction.   Don’t be intimidated.  Wait and see which facts resonate with you and emerge in your writing naturally.

3. CHECK THE TRUTH BEHIND THE FACTS

Special interest groups and their campaigns can be a great resource.  But check your facts are coming from an unbiased source or at least understand the bias at play.

4. LOOK AT BOTH SIDES OF THE ARGUMENT

Don’t just read research that confirms your own world view.  How can you write your antagonist if you don’t know what they believe and why?  You might find something that surprises you and adds credibility to your story.

5. YOU DON’T OWE ANYONE ANYTHING

Your greatest strength as a writer is your independence. Maintain it at all costs and don’t ‘get into bed with’ activists, governments or even people you interview who naturally enough have their own outlook on life.  Stay true to yourself and your story.

6. BUT TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for yourself and your writing.  Be accurate and truthful in your portrayals of events and characters in the world you’ve created, especially if your story is based on real events.

7. FOLLOW YOUR INTEGRITY when you write and trust yourself to find your own truth behind the lines.

What’s the strangest fact you have uncovered and how did it change your story?

You can follow my blog at www.emmalindley.net/blog, contact me on the MediaParents site or tweet me @emlin32 on Twitter.

Happy Writing!

I am an award-winning film and TV director, writer and producer with fifteen years experience. My UK director credits include the popular ITV children’s comedy series, ‘My Parents are Aliens’ (RTS nomination), ITV teen drama ’24Seven’ (Prix Jeunesse nomination) and BBC factual series ‘My Life’ and ‘Who are We?’

My US producer/director credits include ‘Anatomy of a Closet’  a one hour fashion doc, and factual entertainment series ‘In Search of Food’ for Ovation TV, both nominated for CableFAX awards. I have written a commissioned feature script for Met Film, ‘The Misfit Club’, and am currently writing my second feature, a detective story set in Arizona.

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/5471/emma-lindley

April 15, 2013 @ 3:39 pm Posted in News Leave a comment

5 minutes with Natalie Barb… Director / AP on Flexible Working in TV

by Amy Walker

Within three days of going freelance in 2008 I was offered a brilliant job, writes Director / Producer / AP Natalie Barb.  The rate was right, the credit was one level up from where I had been before. Amazing, right? So lucky, so soon. But I turned the opportunity down. Why? Because I had kids – I didn’t think I could make it work.

Natalie Barb and her family in 2009. Natalie is in the TALENT section of www.mediaparents.co.uk

It’s an easy thing to do.  Working in TV, full or part-time can often seem impossible when you have small children, especially when you are freelance and not going back to a staff job. But I am blogging today to tell you it can be done. I wish back then someone had told me the same. My journey to realisation was a slow one but since having kids (and I now have four) I have had some fantastic jobs. They’ve all had different types of work pattern, some more successful than others. You can have a TV career and kids, but you need support – at home and at work.

Four days spread over Five… Here’s a work pattern I made earlier.

My first crack at part-time work was, I thought, a stroke of genius – four days work spread over five while I worked on Blue Peter on the Studio Team and then at Forward Planning. At this stage I was staff at the BBC, so negotiating the hours was relatively easy. Unless I were joining a team that knew me well, I don’t know how easy it would be to swing this arrangement. Still, no harm in asking, right?

THE HOURS:

Officially: 28 per week spread over 5 days,

In reality: more than 28 hours in the office and some picking up in the evenings at home.

THE CHILDCARE:

school 08:15 – 3:30

nursery 08:00 – 13:30

Nanny 13:30 – 18:00 (and one day a week to 19:00)

Natalie Barb makes novelty cakes when not working in TV.

The days were full on. I’d get up, dress the kids, give them breakfast, take them to school, then leap on my bicycle to get to work. I’d then work flat out from 9:00 to 4:00 (except on the studio day.) During this time I was doing things like organising a pantomime Dame Christmas Pudding race around the “Doughnut” at TVC, arranging interviews with A-listers like Madonna, setting up an identity parade of micro-chipped ginger kittens to make sure we knew which was the latest Blue Peter pet and following my cooking passion by thinking up plenty of “bakes”. Phew!! I’d say I was doing the equivalent of a full-time job. But as close to 4pm as I could manage I would rush off home again to pick up from my nanny who would have collected the kids from nursery and school.  So pretty much straight after leaving the office, I was on full-time mummy jobs.

The plus side of this type of work pattern was that I was in the office every day.  My day-off was not interrupted by lots of calls. (Murphy’s Law for part-time workers: contributors will always call back when you are not in the office.) But people did still call after 4pm and people invariably called meetings for 5pm so I was always being briefed after the event on changes and decisions that had been made. But from the point of view of my employers, the regular hours for Blue Peter and production team structure meant that this pattern of part-time work was fine for them (as long as I got the work done, which I did).

On the home front, my kids saw me every day. I got to give them tea and bath and a bedtime story. I certainly was working more than the official 28 hours, but full-timers don’t do 35 hours a week either and I felt my extra hours were in proportion. With no travel and regular work hours, I knew my nanny’s hours were under control – support at home sorted. But man, I worked hard to make sure my nanny was not kept waiting. As a consequence I never had a second to myself and in retrospect I realise I was working on half empty. My advice from my present self to my past self – let the nanny (or whoever is helping you at home) do more. Rushing home and immediately taking the reins, and trying to do so much at home is tough. Ask the nanny to stay a little longer, or have dinner ready for you to put in the oven when you come home. Really there are people around who can look after your children just as well as you. Take the time to find them. The right person will take a pride in their job, want to work hard and they do get to go home and have a decent rest (unlike most working parents).

Truly part-time work. 3 days a week hours to suit you.

THE HOURS

Officially: 3 days per week spread over 5 days to suit

In reality: 3 days per week spread over 5 days to suit

THE CHILDCARE:

AD HOC home help (language student with grown up children wanting to earn some extra cash) up to 20 hours cover/week

school 08:15 – 3:30

nursery 08:00 – 13:30

Natalie Barb's children. "After having my fourth child I wanted to ease myself back into work".

Blue Peter was when I only had 3 children. After baby number 4 and a really tough maternity leave involving long hospital stays for one of my other children, I wanted to ease myself back into work gently. So I did some part-time business development work, production work and pitching for a small independent production company. During this time I scripted, shot and edited several internet films for English Heritage, and ran a training course at the Museum of London in digital production ending in a downloadable walking tour of London. This work was great and pretty much as flexible as you could get. As long as I did the hours at some point during the week, and my work was good, my very understanding employer was happy. I really enjoyed this time, and had the ultimate work life balance. Working three days a week I felt I had time to myself as well as time to look after the children. To be honest, I could have done it all without a nanny, but I had learned the lesson that it’s better to get help if you can afford it – a calmer, more relaxed Mum is a better one in my book.

This work pattern is to be recommended, but these jobs are really hard to come by and I certainly think that on a larger, more full-on production I would feel left out and not part of the team. And in fact some great jobs that would involve full-time work turned up and I was not considered for them, because I was a part-timer. This work particularly worked well because often there were only two of us in the office. BUT the work was, at times bitty, could feel quite solitary and disjointed and it was only when I took on my next job that I realised for me what the short comings of part-time work were. A part-time job felt like a hobby, and not a dynamic career. I think my employer felt that was my view also. It was time to take on some challenges.

Full-time work. “Have you got kids? Did you say 4?? How do you cope?” Cue very surprised face……from work colleagues.

THE HOURS

Full-time and then some.

THE CHILDCARE:

Live-in nanny.

school 08:15 – 3:30

I was going to write about the job, but just writing “live-in nanny” makes me want to say: OMG (that’s not something I normally say, so please imagine the strength of sentiment here) if you have live-in help, the world is your oyster. Not just for work, but you get a social life too. My life was revolutionised when I had a live-in nanny. By now I had learned to really trust your nanny do be able to do all the jobs you do just fine.

It was luck really, an old colleague rang me and asked if I would be interested in a full-time short contract (9 weeks) P/D job on the Chelsea Flower Show. The work involved making insert VTs for the live programmes both prior to the event week and then at the event itself. At this time my husband was away from home Monday to Friday, and the production office was in Birmingham. (I lived in North London). So here’s where I say, you really can make it work. I imagine most people are sensible enough to work in the town where they live and have partners that are at home during the week as well as weekends.

The only way I could do it was by getting a live-in nanny. I found that my costs didn’t go up that much, I didn’t have to stress about what time I was getting home, and I could even get out in the evenings without having to pay a baby sitter a fortune. I was also really pleased to find that having someone live in the house with us was not a huge intrusion on our privacy. During the week I was mostly out, and when I came home the nanny would be pleased for peace and quiet in her own space, and at weekends, the nanny would be away. It is a case of working really hard to find the right person and being clear on the ground rules from the start.

Before you gasp at the thought of me abandoning the home for 50+ hours a week, I still negotiated working from home some days (scripting and logging days).  I could also travel from home to shoots rather than having to go to Birmingham first and I worked with the PM to try and secure the Southern UK shoots. On the work front, what a revelation it was to come back to full-time work and get stuck in. I absolutely loved it. I’ve made some really beautiful films of which I am very proud. With Chelsea comes some fantastic talent to work with – both presenters and celebrities. And with the live events, I’ve had that great buzz of turning around a film that I started at 9am and is on-air by 12.

Natalie Barb : Taken while filming at Chelsea Flower Show - the crane carried a floating garden.

As for me, I stopped being someone’s mother and was myself again. Some people didn’t even know I had kids (perhaps they thought those pictures on my desk were my own and I was an avant-garde naive style dinosaur artist). Yes, my kids missed me and were always so glad that it was a work from home day and I could walk them in to school, or pick them up. But structuring part-time work in this way, is for me, the way forward. I budget for part-time work across the year, but now I do months on and months off rather than days on and days off. That way I spend school holidays with the children when childcare costs can rocket to cover full-time work. It’s no fun having to find nannies for short contracts, but I’ve done it and have always found great childcare. I’ve done it for three years now: Flower Shows and Gardeners’ World with a tiny bit of Royal Wedding thrown in for variety, every year stepping up the amount I have worked. I haven’t looked back and I’m now working to diversify away from gardening and the BBC (any tips on how to achieve that would be happily received).

Before motherhood I spent years working so hard on my career, and I couldn’t bear throwing away all my efforts to just be on the periphery of the action, or not in the action at all. I’m also aware that my children will not be with me forever, and when they have flown the nest, I don’t want to be found floundering wondering what I will do with my time.

Biting the bullet and just going for it, no longer saying no to great jobs, but finding a way to make them work for me has been a success. That’s a qualified success, it comes with  exhaustion, compromise, and guilt (I am still haunted by my daughter’s tears when once I didn’t watch her special assembly), but for me working and pushing the limits has been much better than the alternative of staying home and wondering “what if”?

Natalie Barb can be contacted through the TALENT section of www.mediaparents.co.uk or you are welcome to leave comments or questions for her below.

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/868/natalie-barb

April 5, 2013 @ 9:52 am Posted in News 1 Comment

AP Jodie Gravett says goodbye to BBC Television Centre

by Amy Walker

Danny Baker, Richard Bacon, Fiona Bruce & Brian Blessed have all had their say, I thought it was only right I should air my views too, writes AP Jodie Gravett.

This week sees the end of BBC Television Centre as we know it, and as I watched Madness and Michael Grade pay their respects last week, I got caught up in the emotion and nostalgia of it all. I reminisced about the time I found myself in the TVC basement being serenaded by Phil Collins, and when a friend barged Brian May out of the way at the Green Tea Bar. I searched high and low for the photographs of the time I abseiled off the roof of Studio 1 to raise money for Children in Need. I reminded friends of when we snuck out of the Watchdog studio to watch Franz Ferdinand record the TOTP special, and not to mention the one and only time I had a meeting on the hallowed 6th floor with the new BBC3 controller, only to be drastically late as I went round and round in circles in that doughnut!

Jodie Gravett snaps BBC TVC in its last days. http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/4945/jodie-gravett

Today with a clear head and in work mode, at a meeting across the road in the old Centre House, I looked out of the window at that now forlorn doughnut against a backdrop of a dull snow filled sky. It struck me, it’s not just a loss for the onscreen talent who’ve been lamenting on BBC4 and Twitter. It seemed to me, as a lowly freelancing AP who is simply lucky enough to count that building among many of her work places, that a whole community has been wiped out.

W12 meant only one thing. There was a buzz amongst the people still languishing on the tube as it neared White City; anticipation, excitement, a sense of belonging even. It felt like something happened in that part of town, and even if you didn’t work for the BBC you were still part of it. What will happen to the man who sells the Big Issue at the station? Will that underground bar on Shepherds Bush Green finally submerge? And what will become of Shepherds Bush Market (or casting pool and prop store as I like to call it)?

That sense of community, that buzz , I just can’t imagine it at Portland Place. The bars and coffee houses of Soho don’t need those BBC people with their silly passes dangling by their crotch. And when you see a bunch of people on a Tuesday night daring each other to do the most pull ups on the hand rails of the tube train at Oxford Street, you can’t be sure that they’ve just tipped out of a live studio situation, high on the electricity of it all, like you could at a station near the end of the Central line!

I know. I need a reality check, times change, maybe it’s arrogant of me to think the people of Shepherds Bush care. TV production won’t stop because of this. The Grade II listed building was out dated and costly, and its inevitable end has been on the cards for years; I even made an internal film about the proposed move to Salford when no-one believed that would happen. BBC4’s tribute last week was uncomfortably white and male, silently highlighting that there is a desperate need for change in some areas.

But still, I wanted to point out, it’s not just the on-screen talent, actors, and BBC royalty who will miss this extraordinary workplace. That building, a melting pot of creativity, gave me some opportunities that I don’t think any other building could ever offer. After all, where else would you sit next to Jeremy Paxman on your work experience lunch break?

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/4945/jodie-gravett

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

April 1, 2013 @ 1:38 pm Posted in News 2 Comments