It’s 3am, I’m alone, and it is pitch black. The battery in my head torch just went flat and I’m trudging through knee-deep mud. All I can hear is the sound of the Costa Rican jungle. My finger stings from a spider bite on the knuckle, and I’m holding a bottle full of Dame Kelly Holmes’ piss. It can mean only one thing: I was back in TV and I was grinning from ear to ear. The last time I smiled this intensely was when my kids were born.
Six years previously I was often on location for months, and, as any parent will tell you, it’s not conducive to the early years of marriage and children. I moved to Devon, began lecturing at a university and started a company making TV-style content for a few well-known brands. It fitted perfectly; I had regular hours, and could be there to pick my wife off the floor, or vice versa, when the exhaustion from having two young kids really kicked in (although she’s tougher than me; she worked on Kilroy). But there was something about the camaraderie, the challenge, and the pace of TV that I missed.
It was time to return. The kids were older now and my wife was very supportive, we were much less sleep-deprived. I was excited, but I’d been naïve; several score of applications later I was getting nowhere. I applied for the Media Parents Back to Work scheme and didn’t get a place. What was going on? I had to keep going. I was still the same guy who had been praised for his TV work. To cut a long story short, after setting up meetings and making friends with the M4, an SP friend of mine recommended me for a new series. I met the show’s SP who, and hats off to him for taking a bit of a risk with me, hired me as story producer.
It was on that shoot that, with a little convincing, Dame Kelly Holmes passed me her warm bottle in preparation for the infamous urine drinking scene in that show. It’s a year or so on from that night in the jungle and I’ve just finished working on the second series; and more work has followed through word of mouth. I’ve also had interviews and an offer of work through Media Parents which I couldn’t accept because I was booked.
It’s largely down to those I had worked with in the past, who knew what I was capable of, that I’m back in the game. Forgive me for quoting Meet the Parents, but there is a circle of trust within TV, a network of experienced EPs, SPs and PDs whose recommendation adds real weight to any CV or showreel I can put together. You can add these recommendations to your Media Parents profile page too. I know from crewing up my own commercial productions that the perceived glamour of the industry, and so the onslaught of applications, makes it harder for employers to take a chance on someone they don’t know.
So my advice for Media Parents readers is go to events, meet the employers, talk to the people who know your capabilities and ask them to spread the word; personal recommendations are much easier to swallow. Your own urine, it turns out, is not.
[Keep an eye on site emails for details of Media Parents next event.]
Luke Lovell, PD
He shoots, directs and produces factual and factual entertainment TV programmes mostly, but has also worked on obs doc and consumer affairs shows for the major channels and independent production companies.
Having worked on shows including DIY SOS (BBC1 Primetime), Bear Grylls Man v Wild (channel 4 and discovery), Bear Grylls mission survive (ITV Primetime), and Seaside Rescue (BBC1 Primetime), Luke has a wealth of experience with different major channels and programme formats.
Last years series of Bear Grylls Mission Survive was recently a finalist for an NTA. Luke is currently looking for a filler job before his next series starts in late April.