When we met on the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme we had both just spent a good chunk of time at home with kids, and were on the point of returning to work (specifically, to PD / Development Producer / Edit Producer / Senior Producer roles) in factual telly, write Emma Sayce and Josie Besbrode. We had a frank chat about what our worries were: how would we find a way of working that would be fulfilling, and would advance our careers BUT would not involve us having to make unbearable compromises at home?
When Amy Walker, who runs Media Parents, suggested we think about job sharing, our initial thoughts were: ‘how would that work?’ We wondered if it is even possible to job share a creative role. The answer, as we have since discovered, is that it absolutely is. In fact, job sharing can be a great way of doing the kinds of jobs we do because, arguably, it fosters creativity.
Amy suggested we talk to Alicky Sussman and Milla Harrison who’ve job shared successfully as PDs (on Horizon), as Edit Producers (on Eden) and as Development Producers (read more here). Read all about their experience here.
Alicky and Milla said two really striking things to us, and the first was a word of warning: “job sharing does not necessarily mean half the work”. They said you will spend a lot of time (mainly out of hours) on communication with each other, talking about things you’d never normally spend much time even thinking about. On the positive side, they thought job sharing had produced great results – e.g. that their edits had progressed quicker than they would have done otherwise, that problems were solved more easily by two brains, and that their days off gave them a useful perspective that the films benefitted from. It sounded like the experience had been enjoyable and creatively satisfying, and had allowed for a work/life balance they were both happy with.
Next we spoke to Sunshine Jackson, founder of http://amplifyproductions.co.uk and former Series Editor on Eden. It was Sunshine who employed Alicky and Milla, as job sharing Edit Producers. She saw the whole deal as a bargain, two brains for the price of one. With her background, as an offline editor, Sunshine could immediately see the value of that time out / perspective on the edit that a job share enforces: ‘I’ve been in edits for 20 years, and I know that if you can maintain a level of distance from the material it’s a massive advantage editorially. You make better decisions, and do things in a quarter of the time.’ Sunshine said that Alicky and Milla’s job share worked very well from her point of view, and that she wouldn’t hesitate to hire them again. Sunshine will be attending Media Parents’ TV Job Share Event on Wednesday, along with Milla Harrison.
Finally, we spoke to the team at Ricochet where, on Food Unwrapped, they used job sharing Series Producers and would do so again. It was an idea the producers and Ricochet came up with collectively and pitched to Channel 4. Working three days each was ideal they felt, because it minimised handovers. Although the company were paying for an extra day, the benefits of two creative minds and fresh eyes made it cost effective. Both job sharers worked on Wednesday, had an entire team meeting and split the work for the coming week. An important message was to act, and be treated as, essentially, one person, to trust and support each other, and therefore instil confidence in the team. The job share was facilitated by Ricochet’s Director of Production, Lisa Cox, who will be attending Media Parents’ TV Job Share event this week.
Having chatted to job sharers, and to those who have employed job sharers, we now feel it’s definitely worth a go! To us, it seems that the disadvantages (mainly financial for us) are outweighed by the fact that it could be an enjoyable, productive way of working that leaves us with time and energy for our families. It could also mean that we take on more contracts, and work continuously, rather than doing intensive stints, and then having to have time off to recover / catch up with our kids.
While we’ve been researching and writing this blog, Josie has been working as a PD 4 days a week and Emma has started a job share Edit Producer role c/o Media Parents at Maverick TV, alongside Nikki Ryan who will also be attending Media Parents TV Job Share Event.
Media Parents job share event takes place on May 16th please scroll down this blog for more information.