Media Parents

Monthly Archives: January 2015

5 minutes with Emily Hughes Shooting PD

by Amy Walker

So I’ve always thought that having a baby means the end of your TV career – how many mums have you met in production? I don’t think I’ve ever met one writes Bristol-based Emily Hughes.

Emily Hughes, shooting PD with her son Ben on location. http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/9465/emily-hughes

So when I had my son Ben last summer I thought it was time to put my feet up and to settle into being a mummy. But I couldn’t have been more wrong – in fact I’ve just finished my film, ‘Somerset: After the Floods’ for BBC 2. I think it’s the project I’m most proud of  in my career so far – because I made it whilst being a mother too.

It was all down to a flexible employer – BBC NI, understanding execs Sam Collyns and Simon Ford, and the devoted support of grandmothers Sophie and Pat. I went back to work when Ben was 9 months old for 2 days per week. The project seemed a perfect fit for part time work – a documentary following the villagers of Somerset for a year as they recovered from the devastating flooding of 2014.

At the beginning Ben was still pretty quiet if he stayed in the sling – and he even came down to Somerset filming with me a few times! I think that having a little baby helped – I found that my relationships with contributors became stronger, and being a mother seemed to make me less of a daunting TV person.

iPlayer link : http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b04xnjq9/somerset-after-the-floods

Working with a baby presented a whole world of new challenges – making calls to press officers and agencies during precious nap time – or pacing around the garden with a baby in a sling while I convinced people to take part, hoping he wouldn’t pipe up at the crucial ‘yes’ or ‘no’ moment.  Work definitely didn’t fit into the neat 2 days we planned – but it meant that I had 2 days on location – then the rest of the week to think, prepare and make calls, which is a rare luxury in television. Deciding which story lines merited the 1 ¼ hr drive down to Somerset on a precious ‘work’ day was hard – and it became increasingly clear that we needed to find an excellent shooting AP to cover the days I couldn’t be there. I simply couldn’t cover an observational documentary alone.  Luckily we found a brilliant Shooting Director, Rebecca Rowles, and the team was complete.

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/9465/emily-hughes

Traditional childcare really wasn’t an option as I could never know which days I’d need to film (the turbulent life of flood victims didn’t fit neatly into fixed days), and added to the mix was my husband’s job – a Naval officer – which meant he was either away at sea or working away from home during the week – so couldn’t have helped with nursery pick ups or bedtime. I will be forever indebted to our two grandmothers and wonderful friends who helped out when as story I just had to film cropped up. Poor Ben was deposited many times while I flew down the M5 to catch a story – luckily he was a very genial baby.

As it was a BBC Northern Ireland production we had to go to Belfast for the 2-month edit. It sounds like a massive upheaval – but babies are very portable, and it was as easy for my husband to come to Northern Ireland as the Forest of Dean (where we live) if he had any leave. So we bundled up our lives into the car (baby, granny, cots, push chairs etc etc) and got on the ferry.

It was great to get stuck into full time work in the edit, and I thoroughly enjoyed working with my editor David Howell. We worked very hard 9-5, which meant I could be home for bedtime most nights. In many ways the edit was more straightforward than filming – Ben went to a child minder in the mornings and his granny in the afternoons – so life settled into more of a routine. The biggest challenge was finding out I was pregnant again – accompanied by very severe morning sickness! I had to go to hospital once, and it was pretty grim. I’d script write in the moments between bouts of nausea – which was quite a challenge!  Luckily I had a great editor, and very supportive production team.

We are all delighted with the final film – and the contributors love it, which I always feel is the greatest achievement of all. Most of all its given me the confidence to know that I’m just as good at my job as I was before I had children – so long as you find the right project, and employers are open to flexible working.

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/9465/emily-hughes

Please join www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, networking and events. www.mediaparents.co.uk Our next event will be a Production event on Feb 19th, email us for details.

January 31, 2015 @ 8:30 pm Posted in News Comments Off

TXing Tonight : Sue Bourne’s The Vikings are Coming BBC2

by Amy Walker

Ahead of tonight’s TX of the Vikings are Coming, esteemed documentary filmmaker Sue Bourne explains to Media Parents where the idea came from. “A director friend of mine and her partner had used danish donor sperm and that was how I first heard about it. I was amazed to discover that after beer, bacon and lego Denmark’s biggest export was sperm. Also that you could go onto the internet, browse hundreds of donors, choose your sperm, pay for it by credit card and get it delivered to your kitchen table for self insemination. That to me was remarkable. Also the fact that the biggest clientele group are now single women. Women in their thirties and forties who desperately want a baby but dont have a man. So they are, in increasing numbers using danish donor sperm to create the family they want. Have the baby first, then find the man. It really is a Brave New World.. and a fantastic subject for a documentary.”

Documentary filmmaker Sue Bourne PDed The Vikings are Coming. She can be contacted through the Networking section of www.mediaparents.co.uk

“THE VIKINGS ARE COMING is quite different from my usual films.  It was certainly one of the toughest films I have made because we were following four unfolding narratives about women trying to get pregnant using Danish Donor sperm. That is a lot of unfolding narratives if you don’t self shoot!!  It took us ages and ages also to find the women who were willing to take part in the film.

There are a lot women doing this – and growing numbers of single women – but they are wary of the press because they know there could be condemnation of the decision to have a baby on your own using donor sperm. But we got there in the end and we have some really remarkable, brave women in the film … if the film is any good its because of them.. their stories, their bravery and their quite remarkable honesty.”

It was a long long hard journey and I think/ hope the film shows just what a tough decision it is to go it alone.. and also how very very hard it is to get pregnant. I dont think any of us were really prepared for that! There is a 75 % failure rate in fertility treatment.. hard enough to go through that with a partner. Unimaginably tough to do it all alone!  I see the film as a talking point.. something that will open up the debate.. For me it opened the door into a fascinating world I didn’t know existed.. I think people will be astonished at the story we have to tell.

PD Sue Bourne. http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/collaborator/10222/sue-bourne

Please join www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, networking and events. The Media Parents Back to Work scheme is currently accepting more applicants, please email events@mediaparents.co.uk for details. www.mediaparents.co.uk Our next event will be a Production event on Feb 19th, watch this space for details.

January 29, 2015 @ 11:05 am Posted in News Leave a comment

5 minutes with Editor of Churchill TXing on Sunday Simon Ardizzone PD

by Amy Walker

Simon Ardizzone tells Media Parents how he rose to the challenge of editing ITV’s latest drama-doc -  Churchill:  100 days that saved Britain – in under five and a half weeks.   The film will be aired on Sunday 25th January at 10.15pm on ITV1.

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/7258/simon-ardizzone

For me, walking into an edit suite is always a leap into the unknown – it’s best that way.  I am the fresh eye, the first audience, the midwife.   Luckily, when it came to Churchill, I had stellar performances from an A-list cast (Robert Hardy, Jemma Redgrave, Phil Davis and newcomer Edwin Thomas) who had been adeptly directed by Marion Milne and sumptuously filmed by Andrew Muggleton.  Plus our archive researcher, Geoff Walton, had unearthed some gorgeous WWII colour archive.  Easy you would think….  Well, actually no.

It is a paradox that the better the material you edit, the more difficult it is.  Bad material is often quite easy – you cut out the obvious mistakes and make the best of what’s left.  But how do you make the best out of three or four nuanced options in Robert Hardy’s compelling performance?  Was Churchill a depressive? A warrior? Or a fearful old man?  It was all there in the performance and without a full script in place, it is down to the editor, director and execs to find their way through – in just five weeks.

I count myself hugely lucky.  I have had a varied telly career with work ranging from hard-core current affairs for Unreported World and Dispatches, through to factual entertainment like Bridezilla and At Home With The Eubanks, as well as plenty of specialist-factual.  Each one helps you develop a different story muscle, and when you’re trying to deliver a non-formatted doc to a demanding mainstream broadcaster like ITV1, you fall back on the lessons you’ve learned.  So what are those lessons?

Think about the story ASAP.

Seriously, don’t bimble about, don’t just try to paint pretty pictures.  We take it for granted that editors are good at creating sequences, but most of us are good writers too.  Working alongside my director Marion, we would draft and re-draft the script as well as re-record commentary every day.  You’re not just looking at structure and storytelling, the tone of the words in the commentary is really important too.  Are you using short Anglo-Saxon words (think Sun headline)?   Or are you using the more intellectual vocabulary, drawn from French, Latin and Greek?  How does the language sound when spoken?  Do you start too many sentences with “but” or “however”?  Are your sentences so long that you forget the subject by the time you get to the end?  Do the words feel concrete, compelling and accessible, or a bit vague and abstract?  And finally, do you commit that big sin, of just saying what you are about to see and hear?

Create moments.

Your audience will come away with two or three scenes in their heads.  Critics will write about them, viewers will discuss them.  Make sure you know what those scenes are.  Set up the dramatic tension, let the scene breathe so that they audience understands and feels the dilemma emotionally – and then, give a good pay off/resolution.

Use music library executives.

We had no budget for a composer so one of the first things I did was pick up the phone to Universal and EMI and commission music searches.  I always try to be specific about the emotions and atmospheres a film needs.  If you ask for music ‘for a war film’ you are likely to get something that sounds straightforwardly military.  Instead ask for composers that you like, (we ended up with a lot of tracks by Daniel Pemberton), and complex emotions like ‘fearful but determined’.  This is particularly important when you have nuanced performances, otherwise you kill your film’s greatest asset.  I always try to specify a range of instrumentation like ‘orchestral but with some non-classical instruments’.  Be patient if you aren’t getting the right tracks.  In the end, we commissioned about ten searches from each library and music was the biggest challenge of the film, but we managed to achieve a big, classy, modern orchestral feel that gave the film drive and emotional power.

Be clear what the demands of your slot are.

Working on shows like Channel 5’s Autopsy teaches you to follow the rules of your genre.  So don’t think you know best and ditch the conventions; they are there for a reason and you will soon get in to trouble if you ignore them. You might think that films like Churchill: 100 Days that Changed Britain have different, more ‘creative’ rules than other factual shows, but it’s not true.  Genre is all about the audience’s expectations and setting up a clear story is even more important with more authored one-off films that don’t have a clear story format.  Getting to the kind of clarity that will pull in a mainstream audience is hard whichever films you are making.

If it feels boring you probably don’t have the most vivid facts.

It is not called factual programming for nothing, and it is amazing how you can ramp up drama with a few well-chosen figures or factoids.  The Battle of Britain is much more exciting when you give the actual number of downed Allied planes versus the number of German planes.

Use your execs.

They want your work to be better.  We were lucky to have Ollie Tait as our exec at Shiver and Jo Clinton-Davis as our commissioning editor, both were very demanding and very supportive.  We all have horror stories of interference from our higher-ups, but when you are really pushed for time, they are a valuable resource – men and women who have seen a lot of programming and know what works.

And finally,

you have to give yourself time and space to enjoy your material.

It can be hard to sit down and try to see the film afresh after a hard day’s work, but that’s what your audience is going to do.  I feel very privileged to have worked on Churchill: 100 Days that Changed Britain.  I hope you enjoy the film too.

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/7258/simon-ardizzone Simon is an award-winning shooting PD and editor.

Please join www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, networking and events. The Media Parents Back to Work scheme is currently accepting more applicants, please email events@mediaparents.co.uk for details. www.mediaparents.co.uk Our next event will be at the end of Feb, watch this space for details.

January 23, 2015 @ 12:31 pm Posted in News Comments Off

Media Parents New Year Drinks Guestlist

by Amy Walker

We’re delighted to be hosting drinks next week, kindly sponsored by Procam Television in Central London. We’re celebrating 2015 with a talented bunch of commisisoners, employers and freelancers, including the brilliant ladies on our Back to Work Scheme. Amongst others, we’ll be welcoming back Discovery’s Director of Factual Programming, Helen Hawken, and Channel 5′s Head of In House Production, Andra Heritage, pictured below.

Discovery Commissioning Editor Helen Hawken with Channel 5's Andra Heritage. Pictured at Media Parents' October event, they will be joining us in Soho next Wednesday.

We’ll also be welcoming Channel 5 Commissioning Editor Michelle Chappell and National Geographic Executive Producer Carolyn Payne, both mentors for the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme, amongst others. You can see the full guestlist here media parents guestlist. The guestlist is currently full but we’re hoping to release a few more tickets before Wednesday so watch this space. Look forward to seeing you there!

Media Parents' Kerry Jones and Amy Walker will be at the party on the 21st of Jan, accompanied by David Postlethwaite.

This event is being hosted by Molinare and sponsored by Procam Television who will be joining us on the night, so please meet…

Andrew Black, Procam's Director of Client Relations.

Andrew Black, Director of Client Relations, Procam Television

Andrew has  over 20 years of experience in the broadcast industry in both production and broadcast hire. He has produced numerous DRTV commercials and has extensive experience in broadcast hire, supplying kit and crew to several shows including Red or Black for ITV, The Great British Bake Off, Last Man Standing, to name a few.

Paul Sargeant, COO, Procam Television

Paul Sargeant, COO, Procam Television

https://uk.linkedin.com/pub/paul-sargeant/63/b36/b31

Anushka Ayaru is no longer able to attend.

Please join www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, networking and events. The Media Parents Back to Work scheme is currently accepting more applicants, please email events@mediaparents.co.uk for details. www.mediaparents.co.uk Our next event will be a drinks party for members on January 21st.

January 15, 2015 @ 11:28 pm Posted in News Comments Off

5 minutes with Director David Pearson whose short film is showing in London on Weds 14th Jan

by Amy Walker

Five minutes with director David Pearson on making swans act

David Pearson with Nadia Serantes and Jon Cleave on location for Black Car Home. David is in the TALENT section of www.mediaparents.co.uk photo : Jimmy Edmonds

The sound coming from the white van as it pulled up was muted, but unmistakable, writes David Pearson. Like a trumpeter on steroids playing after a rough night out in Soho being arrested.  This was the “swan truck” and Lloyd Buck, expert bird handler, warned me the director of Black Car Home that none of the four inmates might play ball, “as Henry is a bit grumpy.”

Jon Cleave and Olive in Black Car Home. photo : Jimmy Edmonds

Welcome to the world of animal actors and my first time directing a fiction film intended for the cinema and showing at the BAFTA qualifying London Short Film Festival this week. Although I have previously successfully directed many TV documentaries, short dramas and bits of comedy, produced or inated ed ought ct ors, bird and human with respect and care. iosn to it. www.blackcarhome.com  . He asked to see texecutive produced for TV and cinema; won awards and been Oscar shortlisted and BAFTA & Emmy Nominated, here I was in sub-zero temperatures trying to get an animal to act with humans for “Black Car Home”. Must be mad I thought, comforting myself that at least I hadn’t written any child characters into the script.
I watched the van’s tailgate open. Had Henry alienated them all?  It was Olive who came gamely waddling down the ramp.  Lloyd gave me the thumbs up. She was soon in position on the set with DOP Ian Salvage and go to bird camera operator Mark Payne-Gill in position with their Alexa cameras, and actors Nadia Serantes and Jon Cleave rehearsed and ready to go, watched by a nervous crew of 30.

The crew of Black Car Home. http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/1453/david-pearson. photo : Jimmy Edmonds

My approach to film making is to be well prepared, be clear, have back up plans and get great people working with me, and Lloyd and his wife Rose were no exception. But a Plan B for climatic scene with a swan is difficult, if no swans cooperate.

I asked Lloyd how close to the script Rose could get- not expecting miracles. “Oh all of it as intended,” he said”, with luck.”

Gently shepherded by Lloyd and his wife Rose we started and I found myself asking a swan to, “please go again”.  Would she mind walking closer to Nathan, played by Jon Cleave, to show intimacy?  With Lloyd’s expert help she did. What a pro performer! Then she had to fly off on cue. It was all achieved and the shots by Mark and Ian look beautiful. Finely edited by David Thrasher, and with music and sound added the scene makes its mark.

Cinema audiences have gasped and after screening audience questionnaires cite the scene as one of the most memorable and striking scenes in the film- well it is the climax!
All my previous directing experience proved useful transitioning to make this darkly comic fiction film about an illegal immigrant being rescued by a homeless man. So what did I learn? That like your crew, directors must treat all actors, bird and human, with respect, care and understanding.  www.blackcarhome.com


You can judge the result at the film’s showing in the BAFTA qualifying, London Short Film Festival on the 14th January at 1845 as part of a programme on REFUGEE, ASYLUM & GLOBAL MOVEMENT tickets here.

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/1453/david-pearson

Please join www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, networking and events. The Media Parents Back to Work scheme is currently accepting more applicants, please email events@mediaparents.co.uk for details. www.mediaparents.co.uk Our next event will be a drinks party for members on January 21st.

January 12, 2015 @ 5:26 pm Posted in News Comments Off