Media Parents

5 minutes with Jenn Westlake AP and PC at Creative Week UK

June 4, 2015 @ 1:20 pm Posted in News Comments

I remember when I first started working in TV, I was told by a producer that I should either have kids now (age 18), or wait until I was 40. I didn’t really take much notice at the time, but I soon began to realise that I very rarely saw women working in TV who had kids and if they did, they were at a very senior level. So I have to admit that when I became pregnant a couple of years ago I did feel like I was committing career suicide.

AP Jenn Westlake meets with Sugar Films' MD Pat Younge, ex BBC Head of Vision.

While my career is very important to me, having a baby wasn’t something I was going to put after it; I wanted to be able to have a baby when I wanted and still return to work when it felt right. I had Alexa (now 15 months) after working in Canada for a year. I then moved to Germany and came back to London when she was 6 months old. I started to look for part time work, but I was at a bit of a loss as to where to start – the company I had worked at for a couple of years before moving to Canada had closed their TV department and my other contacts only had full time work to offer, which I wasn’t comfortable with as Alexa so young. I did eventually manage to get a brilliant AP job at Bare Films, working from home for a few months, but knew that was very rare and lucky!

AP Jenn Westlake (right) with Back to Work Media Parents PD Victor Schonfeld (left) and Shooting AP Luke Jameson at BAFTA.

By chance came across Media Parents, after a friend had ‘liked’ it on Facebook. I’d never actually heard of Media Parents before (wish I had!), but realising that there were people out there trying to help people like me gave me the reassurance that there was flexible work out there to be had.

I immediately signed up to Media Parents and soon after won a place at their Back to Work scheme, where I attended at day at Creative Week UK. Amy Walker was such a great support right from the very beginning and really boosted my confidence when it came to networking with everyone there. Listening to the talks and chatting to others really reignited my passion for the industry and made me realise that not all employers discriminate against women with children!

AP Jenn Westlake with ITV Shiver's Head of Talent Michelle Matherson and the Back to Work Team at BAFTA

It was great to be up to speed with the industry trends again and to hear first-hand from directors about the challenges of taking risks and having a passionate commitment early on, with the reward of a great film afterwards (i.e. Jonathan Sehring on Boyhood).

Boyhood Producer Jonathan Sehring (right) talks to Matt Mueller from Screen International at Broadcast's Creative Summit.

With branded content being a hugely talked about thing within the industry, it was really interesting to listen to Amy Kean’s (of Havas Media Labs) fun presentation on the future of technology and the possibility of ‘dreamvertising’/ advertising to you in your dreams. While the notion seems quite far-fetched, it definitely got me thinking about where the industry will be in a few years’ time.

Amy managed to set up meetings with Talent Execs and MDs for me, which really gave me the push I needed to get my name out there and make new contacts. I’m really excited about what the next few months will bring and hope that I manage to find a job that enables me to balance my family life with work. I work as an AP or Production Coordinator, you can see my CV and contact details here when logged into Media Parents : http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/11011/jenn-westlake

by Amy Walker

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