For the past year and a half, PDs Alicky Sussman and Milla Harrison have been job sharing. As PDs we have made two 60 min programmes together for BBC2 science series, Horizon (still on iPlayer) writes Alicky, and edit produced on Channel 4 rig show, Eden.
Our experience has been incredibly positive – as a team we are creative and efficient, delivering well-received programmes on time and in budget – but crucially we have also maintained a good work/life balance.
Find a job-sharing partner
When we were given our first job-sharing opportunity, it helped enormously that we presented ourselves as a ready-made partnership to Horizon editor, Steve Crabtree. Steve was able to see exactly what skills and experience he was getting, and then make a judgment – in just the same way that he would have done if we were applying as individuals. Media Parents profiles have a job share function so you can link to preferred partners after requesting to see their CVs.
Minimize the risk for your employer
Opportunities are more likely to come from people you know, or in areas where you have a proven track record. Milla and I both had previous experience making Horizons, and we had both worked with Eden’s Series Editor, Sunshine Jackson. A huge part of making the job share work has been these supportive bosses, who knew and trusted us.
Flex and compromise
For all the productions we have worked on, we have tried to be as flexible as possible to fit in with programme needs. On Horizon Milla worked 4 days a week spread over 5 and I worked 3 days spread over 4. To make this work budget-wise, we sacrificed having a full-time researcher (a Horizon is usually staffed with a full time researcher and full time PD). When edit producing on Eden we were contracted to work 2.5 days each, but agreed together at the start of the project that we would work an additional half day (usually at home) to fully hand over to each other.
Milla and I have a similar but not identical skill-set, and a combined 40 years TV experience. Together, we are quicker at writing scripts and making decisions. On location we take turns to be the Director or the Researcher/AP, reducing the pressure of a big shoot.
In the edit, we work on different sections of the script before passing to the other to refine. On days off, the films whirr away in the back of our minds, allowing for new, more creative ideas. Organisation and communication is key to making the partnership work. In the edit we avoid repeating or contradicting by writing detailed daily handovers, which include a plan for the following day.
No room for competition or egos
You have to trust your job-sharing partner and accept that there will be times when you have to compromise – job sharing may not be for everybody! When it works as it has done for us it benefits both employers and freelancers in a life-changing, work-enhancing way – we are both looking for work now so I hope more employers will be receptive to job sharing ongoing.
so how do you negotiate rates for a job share? find out at our March 1st event…