Zeb Chadfield, Founder of The Finish Line, sponsors of Media Parents‘ next event on May 3rd, writes here about the age-old conundrum of needing experience to get a job in TV, and discusses his own early career before launching a global post production business.
How do you get experience if no one will give you a job to get it? From my point of view there are two major misconceptions here, the first is that the request is a request for experience in the industry you are trying to get into. The second is that you need to have a job in said industry to get experience in it.
I never went to university, actually that is a massive understatement, I hardly even went to school. I was out on my own at 15 and had no experience in anything… My dad was a fisherman when I was young and he had to get up around 3am and head out to sea. Whenever I could, I would go with him, so I was very good at getting up in the morning. When I was around 9 or 10 my dad moved from fishing into tourism, and there I worked as crew on the boat when school was out. I was speaking to tourists every day, helping them to put on lifejackets and pull in fish. When a little older I started answering the phones, taking bookings and handling payments. I also had to feed penguins before school every day, so when I was 15 and I was looking for a job I had loads of experience but I just didn’t know it.
Looking back at my childhood, I also had learned something very important for my future that I had no idea was going to be so valuable, I had learned to edit! This started with Young Ones episodes that were on TV really late. I would sneak out and set the VHS to record and then run off back to bed. I would then have the episode on video, but with all the adverts. So I would setup two VHS recorders and dub the raw recording to another tape but would have to do it really quickly so there wasn’t a big dropout when you started rerecording. If you wanted smooth edits you would go through this process of playing the tape, hitting record at the right time, then pausing the recorder just as the adverts started, fast forward the player, then un-pause the recorder at the moment the player started to play the next part. This simple practice planted the editing seed.
Next was door-to-door sales. This was the most life changing experience I have had and it has honestly made me who I am today. At the time I didn’t think much of it, I was just happy to have a job and as it had nothing to do with post production you could be forgiven for thinking it was of little benefit to my future, but you would be very wrong. If you have had a job where you get doors slammed in your face and told to “fuck off” all day every day you can do anything! This job taught me so much about communicating clearly, sales, goal setting and most importantly getting knocked down and getting back up again. In any job these skills are very valuable. Communication is key when you are in a high pressure environment with tight deadlines. Being able to sell your ideas is massively beneficial and setting goals to push yourself will help you achieve things you never thought possible. You will get knocked down throughout your life so being able to take it on the chin and keep moving forward is integral if you want to achieve great things.
Zeb’s article continues here. Zeb and The Finish Line team will be hosting Media Parents’ Post Spectacular Event at The Hospital Club on May 3rd. For tickets please see site emails and the watercooler at www.mediaparents.co.uk further details will be published on this blog shortly.