Shooting PD Paul Leyshon and I met on twitter @paulleyshon @mediaparents when he was complaining that he’d never had work through a TV jobsite, and was fed up that he had great credits in Wales but couldn’t get a break into network TV. I tweeted that if he joined Media Parents we’d get him work. I was confident because we have the largest number of jobs per capita on a TV jobsite, and therefore the best odds of getting work. We’re also really determined to do whatever we can to help freelancers get breaks. So now I’ve asked him to write about what happened next.
About 12 months ago I reluctantly attended a Media Parents networking event in BBC Bristol, writes Paul Leyshon. I say ‘reluctantly’ as I’ve never been one for ‘selling myself’ and had my preconceived ideas of it being full of some nerdy people talking shop about some recent tractor documentary they’d shot in Azerbeijan. But I had nothing to worry about.
What I got was a room full of interesting professionals swapping stories about all sorts of genres, and numerous talent managers and exec producers happy to give me advice on how to rearrange my higgledy-piggledy CV, and how to sell myself better. If someone had made a documentary on Azerbeijani tractors they were keeping themselves quiet. This event came at a time when I was finding that everything in Wales was going ‘in-house’ and I needed to plant some seeds with London and Bristol based companies. At this point I’d probably applied for 200+ jobs online with various websites with no luck.
I’ve since had a couple of private meetings with some of those talent managers and taken their advice on how to rearrange my CV and how to promote myself. The result? Several months work on a Channel 4 production and a repeat contract, a few bits and bobs elsewhere, and the BBC Academy using my website as an example of how to promote yourself in a recent freelancer’s fair. http://www.bbc.co.uk/academy/production/article/art20130702112135250
So when the opportunity came to attend the recent Cardiff Media Parents networking evening, rather than seeing it as an occupational hazard as I would have done in the past, I jumped at the chance. With my current contract ending in August (it’s now been extended til October) it was an ideal opportunity to chase some work.
Again, working on a ‘speed dating’ basis, the opportunity was there to meet some more London, Bristol, and Cardiff based exec producers and Head of Factual and Music for BBC Wales, Judith Winnan. It was also a chance to meet some old work colleagues and some new friends I made in the Bristol evening last year, catching up on what’s kept them busy in the past 12 months.
On the night I had some positive meetings with execs who knew my name, and knew of my work, but had not met with me before. As clichéd as it sounds putting ‘a name to a face’, or vice-versa in my case is always a good step. I also had meetings with some very helpful people from Love Productions and Dragonfly who were very good with their advice. I had a phone call this week from one of the companies that I met with so it just goes to show how useful these networking opportunities can be.
For someone as cynical as me I’ve found both networking evenings really helpful and directly or indirectly I think I will reap the benefits down the line. Who knows, I may even take that ob-doc job on Azerbaijani tractors!