Media Parents

Author Archives: Amy Walker

About Amy Walker is a jobs and social networking site committed to keeping experienced talent in TV production. It was set up by Series Producer Amy Walker.

5 minutes at GEITF with Kate Smith, Development Producer

by Amy Walker

The Audio Network popcorn has been wolfed, the Farm chocolate has disappeared, the freebies have been distributed (though I’m not giving my ITV water bottle to anyone).  My Edinburgh TV Festival is over, writes Kate Smith, Development Producer and one of the Media Parents GEITF Back to Work Scheme winners.

Kate Smith, 3rd from left, with the Media Parents geitf Back to Work Scheme Winners.

I was delighted to get a place on the Media Parents GEITF Back to Work Scheme; I’ve been planning to relaunch myself back into freelancery in September, so the festival couldn’t have come at a better time.

I’ve alternated production and development work throughout my working life, and taught both to bright-eyed and bushy-tailed telly students at Glasgow Clyde College for the last 8 years. So the TV Festival was a brilliant chance to get a massive injection of all things telly, and refresh on channels, controllers, platforms and formats.

Meeting the other Media Parents delegates (and Vera MD Rebecca Parkinson) the night before the Festival started was great.  The support of other mamas has got me through my baby-wrangling years, so talking TV through the prism of parenthood felt pretty natural.

Kate Smith (right) "The support of other mamas has got me through my baby-wrangling years, so talking TV through the prism of parenthood felt pretty natural."

Kate Smith (right) "The support of other mamas has got me through my baby-wrangling years, so talking TV through the prism of parenthood felt pretty natural."

I saw several controllers, a handful of masterclasses, some brilliantly bizarre beatboxing and a very thought-provoking interview with Frankie Boyle.   Perhaps most useful for me were the controllers; Cassian Harrison on BBC4’s approach ‘singular subjects with a deep history’, Charlotte Moore on BBC1’s interpretation of ‘risk-taking’.  Plus a great session on sizzles, which now firmly focus on character and story rather than bombastic music and edit.  Then a fantastic session with Jeff Pope – I don’t work in drama, but couldn’t resist the brilliant Sheridan Smith. Really interesting to hear him talk about how he builds his narratives by creating a ‘universe of facts’ then finding a story to navigate through it.  Loads of insight into the process.  And of course, we also managed to see a bit of back-slapping in the awards, hosted by John Bishop, including a really well-deserved award for the Educating Yorkshire team.

Inexplicably, Amy Walker of Media Parents didn’t win an award for her stellar networking skills.  Unlike her, I’m not a natural at what we both call ‘gentle stalking’, although I did manage to meet my lovely Raise the Roof mentors, Sarah Walmsley and Jane Muirhead on the Glasgow to Edinburgh train to the festival. But by day two (something to do with a drop of sparkling French courage, perhaps?) even I managed to track down the Scottish production people on my list, and was reintroduced to Harry Bell of Tern Television by Amy in the foyer of the EICC. Perhaps most happily of all, the Festival gave me the perfect excuse to email other friends and contacts in Scottish indies to let them know about my place on the Back to Work Scheme, and as a result I’ve got several meetings in the next few weeks.   Watch this space…

Kate Smith is sponsored by Raise the Roof Productions in Glasgow.

kate smith, development producer

Extensive experience across factual, features, entertainment and comedy; ob doc, formats and development. BBC, ITV and C4; directing and DV skills. Fluent Spanish and French.

Available part time, Glasgow or Edinburgh.


For great jobs, events and networking opportunities please join Media Parents is delighted to be working with GEITF, Skillset, Shine Group, Channel 4, Endemol, Raise the Roof Productions, the BBC, Discovery Channel and Channel 5 to deliver the Media Parents GEITF Back to Work Scheme.

August 28, 2014 @ 1:03 pm Posted in News Leave a comment

media parents GEITF back to work scheme winners 2014

by Amy Walker

Congratulations to the six Media Parents GEITF Back to Work Scheme entrants who have won hotly contested places to the Edinburgh TV Festival and mentoring from the BBC, Channel 4, Discovery Channel, Channel 5, Endemol, Raise the Roof Productions, Shine Group and Media Parents. They will be tweeting and blogging from the TV Festival, and here they are…

Script Editor and Drama Development Executive Kumari Salgado will be sponsored by the BBC.

Kumari  Salgado, Script  Editor  & Drama Development  Executive

I am a single mixed race parent of a 10 year old boy.  I had a successful career in TV drama where I worked my way up from the position of receptionist in an indie to development assistant, development executive, script editor, Head of Development, producer and executive producer.  I worked mainly for indies, where I developed a number of successful TV dramas such as Sirens, Goodbye Mr Chips and Can’t Buy Me Love.  I produced Can’t Buy Me Love when my son was six months old.

In 2013, after almost 5 years out of TV, I worked as a temporary script editor on Holby City covering another employee’s maternity leave.  However, this  was only 12 weeks’ work. Since that time I have worked as a freelance script reader for BBC Films and BBC Wales.  However, while this gives me flexibility with my time it is extremely low paid, unreliable and sporadic work and I feel that I am not working to my full potential.  I would very much like to find my way back into full employment in TV where I can make the most of my 15+ years’ of experience.

Anna Coane will be sponsored by Endemol .

Anna Coane, Comedy & Entertainment Producer

In 2011 I took a year out to have my first child and when contemplating returning to work I felt ready for a new challenge – I have always loved editing and (with the help of a Media Parents event) I was delighted when my first job back was as an Edit Producer. I am now an experienced Edit Producer, have developed strong storytelling skills, and am comfortable cutting a variety of formats. I have managed to step between genres throughout my career – I have experience of comedy, scripted, entertainment, fact/ent and reality.

However I have always wanted to be a Producer. When I stopped work in August 2013 to have my second child, I had gained two Producer credits, so on returning to work this time (a year later) I’m really keen to gain much more producing experience, especially in comedy/entertainment, with a view to working towards becoming a Series Producer.

Rachel Tierney will be sponsored by Shine Group.

Rachel Tierney, Development Producer

I have extensive experience as a freelance TV producer and development producer, working for some of the UK’s most critically and commercially acclaimed production companies in the ten years up to taking maternity leave in August 2013. One of my most rewarding experiences has been working with Century Films’ Brian Hill to produce a Storyville documentary about childbirth. In 2011 I was embedded in maternity wards across the world, in Sierra Leone, Cambodia and the USA.

I’d dearly love this opportunity to address my current challenges by re- immersing myself in the latest industry knowledge and thinking, and by making connections with a peer group who are in a similar position – so that we can share ideas and build confidence together.

Carer Radica Anikpe is a broadcast journalist.

Radica Anikpe, broadcast journalist / Producer / AP

I am a fully loaded broadcaster without portfolio, waiting for my opportunity to be catapulted back through the doors of my beloved television. How so? I am an experienced producer with a background in national newspaper and magazine journalism, a top-class interviewer and a dab hand at both writing and dulcet-toning voice-overs. I have, if I may say so, a pretty impressive portfolio of work behind me: I was a teenage writer for the teenage press! I was producer at MTV! I’ve worked on the Brits AND the MOBOs!  I have voiced programmes on Radio 4!

I am naturally entrepreneurial and am at my shining best in a small team with a sole goal in common. I am a cool-headed creative opportunist who genuinely loves television, almost as much as I love a deadline.

PD Clair Titley.

Clair Titley, Producer / Director

I started my career in documentaries as a researcher for Testimony Films in 2004 and have worked in production and development since then. I made the difficult leap from AP to Director in 2011, with a First Cut film for Channel 4. I completed the edit just five days before I gave birth to my daughter.

With good reviews, I was also nominated for the ‘RTS Bristol Futures Award for Outstanding New Director’. After a year out I took the plunge and returned to work full-time, as a PD. It was great to be working again (albeit still surrounded by babies!) but as the inevitable long production hours and six-day weeks grew, I struggled to spend time with my daughter. Since that contract finished earlier this year, I have been torn as to whether to return to the industry. I managed to secure a short contract working one day a week on an observational film, but in an AP, rather than PD role. I would love to continue in the industry as a PD in Bristol, but I worry that this might be an unrealistic ambition given my situation: I don’t want to return to work full-time again just yet and my daughter’s needs mean I will have to be more flexible.

Kate Smith will be sponsored by Raise the Roof Productions in Glasgow.

Kate Smith Development Producer

I’ve had a successful and varied career as writer, producer, researcher and lecturer, including nearly nine years of production work in radio and television. In 2005, I gave up full-time work as a television producer, and started producing children.

Nine years and three small girls later, I’ve working part-time as a lecturer in television production, and very part time as a freelance development producer. However, I’ve just given up teaching to throw myself to the wolves of freelance work once more.

Here’s wishing all the Media Parents GEITF Back to Work scheme winners 2014 the very best of luck, please read more about them on the blog and via in the coming weeks. Thank you also to all those talented people who applied but didn’t get a place this time, hopefully we will see you at an event soon.

Media Parents is delighted to be working with GEITF, Shine Television, Channel 4, Endemol, Raise the Roof Productions, the BBC, Discovery Channel and Channel 5 to deliver the Media Parents GEITF Back to Work Scheme. For great jobs and further networking opportunities please join

August 18, 2014 @ 6:36 am Posted in News Comments Off

5 minutes with…Charis Williams, presenter, single mum and upcyler

by Amy Walker

Charis Williams, TV presenter, designer, re-use expert and artist. Most recently on ‘Kirstie’s Fill Your House for Free’ which TXes tonight on Channel 4 at 8pm, and previously presenter, designer and salvage expert on The New Reclaimers on UKTV Home writes about combining her TV work with being a single parent.

Being a single Mum and working in TV… does it mix?

For me, in a word… yes! I have to be honest, it can be difficult at times, I have to carefully coordinate childcare, and organisation is key. Luckily my children at six and eight years old are at school, and the school runs a breakfast club and after school club which makes life a lot easier and means I can avoid the rush hour traffic. I also have a wonderful family, without my Mum I would find it near impossible to go away for a week to the opposite end of the country to film as I did for the Glasgow shop / studio filming for ‘Kirstie’s Fill Your House for Free’. You really have to know your children are with someone you trust to look after them as well as you do, especially when you are a long way from home and really under pressure. For me that means Mum is always my first port of call. I definitely owe her a trip to the Caribbean!

Charis Williams is currently appearing in Kirstie's Fill Your House for Free, Tuesdays at 8pm on Channel 4.

I find in my line of work there are times I am rushed off my feet and manically trying to get projects finished and pieces designed for filming, so I do feel pressure running the house, looking after the kids and working to the deadlines too. Having said that I always get the job done, I’m the type of person that gets bored without challenges. I also run two businesses – Salvage Sister, where I upcycle ‘trash’ into beautiful and unique home wares and Brighton Wall Art, which is my bespoke artwork business. I’ve set up my businesses to work around my children, I have built a workshop in my garden so I can work from home which is also close to the school.

I do feel guilty that for a few weeks I might not see the kids for their bedtime story or miss the occasional assembly. I balance this by being able to take most of their six week holiday off and work around term holidays, sometimes that means working at night when they’re in bed. I believe in spending quality time with my children when I’m with them, that doesn’t necessarily mean spending loads of cash – but taking them different places, educating them and having fun together. A lot of people are probably able to spend more time with their kids, I believe in quality over quantity.

Whatever job you do, if you have children there is always a juggling act and a feeling of guilt – that inevitably comes with Motherhood. And it is difficult being the only parent – there is more pressure on you as you are being mother and father and providing for your children alone. I believe it is important for your children to see you working hard to support them and make a good home and life for them, they learn by example after all. I learnt so much from my parents, my mother has incredible drive and energy and my father is very talented, and able to teach himself anything. I didn’t really appreciate these qualities growing up – I don’t suppose children do until they have faced their own battles. Now I have children of my own I really respect how hard they worked and the ethics they instilled in me. It is extremely important that learning starts at home and we pass on what we have learnt to our children rather than expecting them to learn everything at school.

I do know that without my children I wouldn’t have the same need to succeed, and my tenacious attitude and competitiveness which drives me. Before I had children I felt a little lost and not sure how to reach my goals – they have given me a reason to fight for things that I want. I want my kids to grow up knowing Mum never gives up and always tries her best, I want the best for them and to be a good role model for them. I’m at a place in my life now where I feel I have everything in place, I’m at my happiest and looking forward to the future. Although it can be a challenge, it’s never boring! I’m lucky to have such amazing, healthy children to share my life with and I’m working in an industry I love and meeting talented, like-minded people all the time.

Charis Williams AKA The Salvage Sister

Media Parents has launched its GEITF Back to Work Scheme, please join and scroll down our blog for details.

August 4, 2014 @ 9:52 pm Posted in News Leave a comment

Media Parents Launches GEITF Back to Work Scheme 2014 Apply by Tuesday 12th August

by Amy Walker

Media Parents will partner with GEITF, Channel 4, the BBC, Shine Television and others to support parents getting back into TV – please apply!

Media Parents (a social enterprise set up to promote flexible working and help working parents balance the demands of media and childcare) is launching a scheme to get parents and carers back in to the TV industry following a career break. In 2013 four successful media parents / carers were awarded sponsored places at the Guardian Edinburgh International TV Festival (GEITF) and returned to the TV workplace – this year we have six places, sponsored by Shine Television, Channel 4, Endemol, Raise the Roof Productions, the BBC and Media Parents. Will you win one?

Last year's winners: Ali McBride, Harriet Wallace, Kirsty Smith and Sidra Khan, media parents delegates waiting for Kevin Spacey's MacTaggart Speech at GEITF 2013.

The scheme is relaunching and successful candidates will be awarded a delegate pass, plus accommodation in Edinburgh, with bespoke mentoring sessions from the sponsors, with the Media Parents mentoring being provided by Channel 5 Commissioning Editor Michelle Chappell and Discovery’s Helen Hawken. The scheme is designed to reinvigorate careers and help talented individuals get back in to the workplace.

Media Parents is delighted to be working with GEITF, Shine Television, Channel 4, Endemol, Raise the Roof Productions, the BBC and Channel 5 to deliver the Media Parents GEITF Back to Work Scheme. To win a sponsored place at Edinburgh TV Festival plus mentoring please apply by Tuesday 12th August via

Donald-Iain Brown, Head of BBC Production Talent Network commented “BBC Production Talent Network is pleased to sponsor the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme.  Getting experienced creatives back into the workplace after their caring absence only leads to greater creativity and diversity of views, which only ever makes content richer and better; that’s what our audiences want – so it’s a win-win for everyone”.

Amy Walker, founder of Media Parents, is delighted to be launching the scheme “Media Parents has always been about keeping experienced talent in television. The key objective of this scheme is that our delegates leave Edinburgh with new levels of confidence, motivation and a network of business contacts that will support their ambitions to get back into TV and keep the industry workforce diverse. Media Parents is delighted to be working with GEITF, Shine Television, Channel 4, Endemol, Raise the Roof Productions, the BBC, Discovery and Channel 5  to deliver the scheme.”

Bella Lambourne, HR Director at Endemol said “Endemol is delighted to be able to be part of this scheme again after the success of last year.  Enabling and encouraging female talent to return and remain in production is as important as ever for the TV industry.”

Raise the Roof Productions MD Jane Muirhead said “Raise The Roof are proud to sponsor this year’s Media Parents GEITF Back to Work Scheme and endorse the work and mentoring opportunities available through the initiative. Our driving force at Raise The Roof is to welcome the most creative and experienced talent from all walks of life to our company, and this scheme allows us to offer support to those who are looking for flexible working hours or a return back to the workplace.”

Candidates will be asked to apply for a place via Media Parents and successful candidates will be selected to take part. Amy Walker comments “It is so encouraging that we have such prestigious partners who have long been supporters of nurturing talent and championing the cause. The Edinburgh TV Festival is an unmissable event in the TV calendar, and attending will inspire people wanting to get back to work with a bang, and also help them to make great connections.”

Applicants are required to send a 300 word précis outlining their experience and ambitions upon returning to TV, plus a CV, to by Tuesday 12th August 2014 to be considered. The email should be titled with the applicant’s name, job title and genre. Applicants must be available to attend the Edinburgh TV Festival in 2014. See the Festival programme and dates here :

Candidates are required to have 3 years’ experience in TV and should not have worked continuously in TV for more than 12 weeks since their career break. This doesn’t mean you need to have been out of work for 12 weeks, it means you can’t have worked continuously for 12 weeks since you have returned to work.

Successful applicants must subscribe to either the talent section of to apply for this scheme to prove their commitment to returning to the workplace.

Applications close on Tuesday 12th August 2014.

Visit to apply now.

Follow Media Parents on Twitter @Mediaparents


Now in its 39th year, the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival powered by YouTube is the UK’s leading TV festival. GEITF 2014 takes place 21 – 23 August.

  • From Kevin Spacey to Google’s Eric Schmidt, global heavyweights set the industry agenda at GEITF. The 50+ sessions present thought-leaders who’ll cut to the heart of the issues in the TV business with headline-making viewpoints
  • The Festival is attracts delegates from around the world, representing the full spectrum of the industry – from chief executives, controllers and commissioners to producers, directors, marketers, writers, new media companies, distributors and press.
  • GEITF is a charitable organisation.  Proceeds from sponsorship and the sale of each delegate pass support the GEITF’s talent schemes, the Network and Ones to Watch. These schemes identify and support emerging talent to promote a healthy and diverse future for our industry.
  • Mel Leach, Managing Director, Twofour Broadcast, is the 2014 Advisory Chair.
  • Elaine Bedell, Director of Entertainment and Comedy, ITV, is the Executive Chair.
  • Join in the conversation on Facebook/ThisIsEdinburghTVFestival, talk to us on Twitter @edinburghtvfest and network with us on Linked In

also read this inspiring story from one of last year’s scheme winners:

July 21, 2014 @ 10:47 am Posted in News Comments Off

5 minutes with Development producer & Cardiff mum back to work Sophie Fairs

by Amy Walker

“I just wanted to give you some feedback from the Cardiff networking Event”, writes mum back into work Sophie Fairs. So if you are a parent currently out of the work place, take heart and read on. Then read a bit more below about the Media Parents GEITF Back to Work Scheme that we will be launching next week. “I met with Tess Cuming the Head of Factual Entertainment at Boomerang that night and she was incredibly encouraging about me returning to work after a long career break.”

Sophie Fairs on her way back in to TV at the Media Parents Cardiff Event.

“Tess rang me a few weeks later, asked if could I come in for a week to help with development. I’m still here! I did the initial week and was then asked to cover for the Producer of their Channel 4 show “Posh Pawn” which was great, and I’ve been working development producing ever since. I just wanted to write to you to thank you for organising the event, it has enabled me to return to work in my previous role in production which I didn’t think was possible with a family ( I think I mentioned to you I was thinking of switching roles as I thought it would be more office-based). Boomerang have been incredibly supportive, offering me flexible hours and understanding the juggling act of being a mum and returning to work!

Camera operator Duncan Fairs also attended the Media Parents event in Cardiff.

I’ve had to turn down the opportunity of more work here for the summer as my husband is on a month long shoot.  Boomerang want me back though and have been so encouraging.  I’ve been very impressed with the ethos of the company and their philosophy towards working parents – I couldn’t have received more support, and it has been a pleasure to work for them.

Tess Cumming meeting another freelancer at the Cardiff event.

I’ve also had other offers of work through the event and have had to turn them down – all in all a successful outcome! I just thought I’d let you know my experience!”

Thanks for letting us know Sophie! And if you are in the same position please join and apply for our Media Parents GEITF Back to Work Scheme next week. Last year the scheme saw four parents return to TV via the Edinburgh TV Festival and mentoring from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Endemol. More information next week, here is some from last year :“back-to-work”-scheme/

Media Parents is about to launch its GEITF Back to Work Scheme, please join and watch this space for details.

July 17, 2014 @ 11:28 am Posted in News Comments Off

bootcamp for production managers – bursaries available

by Amy Walker


Sunday 7 & Monday 8 September 2014

Best Western Country House Hotel, Thornhill, Cardiff

TWO DAYS of intensive, interactive and inspirational practical training for Production staff and freelancers.

Whether you are looking to step up into Production Management, or refresh your skills and knowledge this is an opportunity to develop abilities and job prospects.

The cost includes all training materials, food and accommodation and use of the hotels facilities, crèche facility available upon request, transport to and from Cardiff City Centre if required.


  • The Changing Demands of the PM in relation to Business and Finance

  • Working in a Multi-platform World

  • The Law, Logistics and Management

  • Industry Guests, Case Studies and Budgeting Exercises


Christine Pyke

Ric Michael

07979 917 768 (Christine Pyke) 07976 895 946 (Ric Michael) @PumaEvents

Cardiff Flyer Residential Bootcamp

Media Parents is about to launch its GEITF Back to Work Scheme, please join and watch this space for details.

@ 7:28 am Posted in News Comments Off

TXing Tonight: 9 months later – a media Parents commission

by Amy Walker

A Long Gestation… Media Parents talent Gaby Koppel writes about the commission that happened through Media Parents and will TX on Sky Living, Friday 11th July at 8pm.

Gaby Koppel attended the recent Media Parents CV Bash in London, along with 100 others.

Exactly three years ago wrote for the Media Parents blog, little realising the amazing consequences my contribution would have for me and two others.  It was to lead to a series that starts airing on Sky Living at 8pm this Friday.  The piece I originally wrote was a brief but heartfelt comment on ageism in the TV industry and ended with a link to the feature I’d written for the Independent about inherited breast cancer. Weirdly, what happened next had nothing to do with either of those two subjects.

Of course, the connection between the two must have seemed tenuous in the first place.  I was the link. I’d left the BBC in 2008 after a decade of series producing documentaries and features.  The decision came about partly because I felt my age was beginning to affect how people saw me, and also because I yearned to go back to my first passion – print journalism. Pursuing a ‘portfolio career’ of writing and producing explains how I came to be the author of a very personal newspaper article describing how I told my three children that I may have passed a deadly cancer gene on to them.

If you’d asked me then what I expected to happen as a result of the blog, I’d have answered with a shrug. Maybe some readers would take in what I’d said on either of the two issues and even be inspired to act.  It would be nice to think I was an agent of change even in the most minor contributory way.

But a few days later I got an email which changed everything.  It was from a young producer, Lauren Pushkin. She explained that she’d been shooting a documentary on spec with another producer Melissa Cortizo under the working title ‘Becoming Mum’.  They had both been struck at how overwhelming, exhilarating and exhausting the experience of becoming a parent was for them and as they said, ‘nobody warns you’.  They had been filming other women on that same journey, and now they wanted to get their work onto television but weren’t quite sure how to start.

So why me?  Well, they’d read my blog piece and thought I might be able to help. I thought it sounded a bit iffy – after all, who shoots a documentary on spec? At the same time I was hugely intrigued and it was a subject I understood all too well though my children were in their teens by then.  In my newly freewheeling freelance career I had the time and energy to dig deeper.  So when Lauren and Melissa got me into their edit and showed me their rushes, my chin nearly hit the floor.  These guys were serious.  They had assembled a great line-up of characters and shot some truly compelling moments with them. And not just moments either – they had followed stories through for a full six months.

I was overwhelmed with admiration that two young women both with small children could find the time and resources to shoot most of a documentary series with so little help or support from elsewhere.  If they could do this by themselves, then with some infrastructure behind them I thought they would really fly.

Fast forward three years, and the series is about to air on Sky Living. Once it was commissioned by Siobhan Mulholland at Sky TV I stood back, feeling that my job was done. As the months have gone by, I’ve been aware that the long journey has been tortuous at times. Very much like the process of becoming mothers, becoming producers of a six-part broadcast series has been a challenging experience for Lauren and Melissa, their achievement all the greater for that.  But with their talent, energy and huge reserves of creativity, I’m sure this is just the beginning.  I look forward to watching their careers progress.

In one very apt sense, I feel I was the midwife. I simply helped the baby come into the world – of course I’m both amazed and proud to see how she has grown.  Without Media Parents it may never have happened.

Nine Months Later Starts: 8pm Friday 11 July, Sky Living

Gaby Koppel is a freelance Series/Edit Producer and writer, currently working on A Place in the Sun – Home or Away (Freeform Productions for Channel 4)

Media Parents is about to launch its GEITF Back to Work Scheme, please join and watch this space for details.

July 11, 2014 @ 8:51 am Posted in News Comments Off

TXing Tonight : Kirstie’s Fill Your House for Free, 8pm Channel4

by Amy Walker

Well done to media parents PD Ros Edwards, and editor Brian Campbell who worked hard on this show and a big well done to all the team at Raise the Roof who worked on this. Amy Walker series produced this and got the job through Media Parents so thank you for that – hope you can tune in tonight at 8pm, Channel4. It’s been a heck of a lot of work!

Kirsie Allsopp upycles the nation's homes in this series starting tonight on channel4.

More related blog posts including one on diverse casting coming soon.

July 8, 2014 @ 10:21 am Posted in News Comments Off

TXing tonight… Edit Producer Lesley Scarff’s couples come dine with me

by Amy Walker

I almost didn’t turn up to the Media Parents Summer bash at ENVY earlier this week. Having been to a similar but less structured networking event once before (not hosted by Media Parents) I was slightly hesitant if it would be worthwhile. After bumping into an ex colleague and meeting with a couple of EP/SPs, I came away feeling extremely encouraged.

Lesley Scarff at the latest Media Parents networking event.

The timing of doing such a thing seemed right as the new series of Couples Come Dine With Me starts on Monday 7th July and I am proud to be the producer/director of the opening episode. I had also been the ‘guinea pig’ PD for the very first Couples CDWM shoot back in January when the intricacies of the show were still being worked out, and the directive ended up being shoot everything and let’s see what does and doesn’t work in the edit.  Fortunately, all the late nights on location and in the edit paid off and it seemed we had injected a well-known format with a new lease of life.  While the basic format remains the same, the dynamics between all the couples and especially within the couples often make for hilarious, awkward and compulsive viewing.

Couples Come Dine With Me TXes on Monday 7th July at 5pm on Channel 4. Produced and Directed by Media Parents' Lesley Scarff

Working on Come Dine With Me wasn’t unfamiliar territory, over the past three years I had produced and directed several peak time 60’ shows and edit produced a handful of 30’ daytime episodes. I also worked on the Celebrity Christmas special last year for which I co-directed a dream sequence re-enacting Wham’s Last Christmas video featuring former Made in Chelsea star Hugo Taylor as the object of Louie Spence’s affections, and Sinitta and Daniella Westbrook took on the roles of Pepsi and Shirley. Surreal but highly entertaining!

Celeb Special Come Dine With Me.

Having finished up on Couples Come Dine With Me in May this year I am now working on Four in A Bed, a show that I edit produced earlier this year.  I have loved being a PD and working in factual entertainment/reality/observational documentaries I have met a host of weird and wonderful people and been to some amazing, and not so amazing locations. Now I feel my time of running around on location is coming to an end and I am aiming to concentrate my efforts on becoming a Series Edit Producer and perhaps returning to Series Producer in the future. It’s great to be re-established in the UK after my decision to take time out of TV in the UK to live and work in Australia – which might be seen as the career equivalent of taking time out for maternity.

Lesley Scarff took time out to work in TV in Australia

In 2004 I took myself out of the UK television industry to go and work in Australia on a one-year holiday visa. Many of my friends had done it and although none were working in TV I was still keen to live and work in a different country.  At that time the industry in Sydney was much smaller than it is now, and opportunities far fewer.  It took 6 months but I eventually landed a job with ABC TV as Director of two episodes of Outback House, a historical observational documentary series based on the Wall to Wall format. Two days after accepting the job I flew into the splendour of rural NSW, and went back in time to 1861 where the mode of transport on location was horse and cart.

Lesley Scarff and the crew of Outback House.

I learnt what a yabbi was, heard people say ‘fair dinkum’ in a sentence and happily worked 16-18 hour days back to back in 40 degree temperatures. It was and remains a career highlight through which I made life long friends with cast and crew and genuinely had one of the best and most fun experiences of my life. When my contract on Outback House came to an end I returned to the UK for personal reasons and headed to Turn on Television, a company I had worked for many times before, only this time I was given the role of Series Producer on Unlikely Lovers, a new factual entertainment series for ITV2.  It was a demanding but ultimately enjoyable experience and though I made mistakes I most definitely learnt from them.

Despite the promotion, I had spent six months dreaming of Australia and after completing work I headed back to Sydney. It was November 2005 and I had no work visa, no job and just a friend’s sofa to sleep on. Less than a week after landing I was offered another directing job on an ABC co pro, and after that there was no looking back. For the next six years I worked back to back. And did a lot of sunbathing and swimming at my ‘spiritual home’ of Bondi beach!

From Here to Maternity, series produced by Lesley Scarff

In between basking in the sunshine I also gained my second Series Producer credit on From Here to Maternity, an obs-doc series following couples during pregnancy, birth and early parenthood.  The series was recommissioned for a second series and as well as overseeing the edits I also produced and directed all 8 x30’ episodes for the first series. For three months I was on call for each birth and as well as seeing a few babies come into the world became a semi-expert on pregnancy and birth! Only baby caught us out, arriving in the delivery suite before we did. Luckily the small DV cameras we had given to each couple did the job  – although the father behind the camera was inclined to shoot far more graphically than we ever did!  When aired, both series were the highest rating for the network and we picked up a couple of ASTRA awards and nominations including one for host Antonia Kidman (as in Nicole’s sister) who was also pregnant with her fourth child at the end of series 1.

Lesley Scarff working on The Farmer Wants a Wife in Australia

Pregnancy, births and babies aside, I also spent two years at Fremantle Media working as ‘Field Producer’ and ‘Post Producer’ i.e. PD and Edit Producer…  I got used to adapting my TV jargon while in Oz – ‘viewings’ became ‘screenings’, ‘end of parts’ became ‘play offs’ and ‘on location’ became ‘in the field’. The rest of the job was pretty much the same though I was now working on much bigger budget reality series such as The Biggest Loser, The Apprentice, and my favourite, The Farmer Wants a Wife for which I got paid to work in some of the hottest, most beautiful and remote parts of Australia.  Not even the daily swallowing of flies or filming in 50 degrees heat in the middle of Western Australian could put me off.

Throughout the time I was in Australia I still came home every year and in the summer of 2010 I once again bid farewell to my parents and it hit me for the first time that they really weren’t going to live forever.  So in April 2011, I came home with an Aussie twang and high hopes of finding a job but not having worked in London for over a decade (I was in Bristol for a few years before going to Oz) my network of contacts was hovering around zero.

Lesley and her father.

Luckily, I managed to land a handful of job interviews fairly quickly and on two occasions was excited to discover that my skills and experience were just what they were looking for.  I had even worked on the Australian equivalent of one show. And therein lay the problem – Australia, or more specifically Australian television because and I paraphrase the SP/EPs who interviewed me ‘Australian TV isn’t that great.’ Well, to an extent they had a point, but fortunately the nice people at ITV Studios took the time to contact my previous Executive Producer in Sydney, and on receipt of her very glowing reference an offer of a 3-week Edit Producer gig on Come Dine With Me turned into a 3 month PD job. And the rest is history… Well almost. Although I am sure I will work in Australia again, moving back home was still the right decision. My earlier realisation that nobody, not even your dad is immortal was proved at the end of May, when after being taken ill two months earlier, my 86 year old father passed away. I was by his side.

The week previous I had finished overseeing the online and dub for what would become the opening episode of Couples Come Dine With Me. My dad wouldn’t have bothered watching the show but would have tuned in for the end credits, and then pointed at the screen and smiled when his little girl’s name came up!

July 6, 2014 @ 7:20 pm Posted in News Comments Off

media parents summer CV bash : who’s coming?

by Amy Walker

This Thursday Media Parents is holding a Summer CV Bash at ENVY. We’re being joined by a host of indies, ITV and the BBC. Plus about 60 talented and experienced freelancers. The plan is to put faces to names and to see how freelancers can sell their expertise better on paper. And someone from the BBC Academy is also coming along to advise people on the best ways to present themselves on social media. Some of the freelancers will be parents returning to the workplace, others will be experienced freelancers, not necessarily parents, who see the value in meeting employers. Here follows a list of everyone who has sent a biog back so far.

Alice Lister, Head of Production, ClearStory

During ten years in the industry, Alice Lister has managed and produced projects in the UK, New Zealand and the Middle East for a variety of international broadcasters including BBC, Discovery, National Geographic, Disney, Channel 4, Channel 5, TVNZ & Al Rayyan. Her recent production credits include prime time series such as Out of Empire presented by Jeremy Paxman, The Seven Ages of Britain presented by David Dimbleby and Michel Roux’s Service.

Amy Walker, Director, Media Parents

Media Parents Director Amy Walker has seen a million CVs and heard a lot of CV advice. She is well-placed to advise on what different indies like to see on CVs. Amy continues to work as a freelance Series Producer as well as overseeing Media Parents. Currently making a series with Kirstie Allsopp for Channel 4 that starts airing at 8pm on July 8th, her previous series is airing on Discovery UK, fronted by Bear Grylls. Amy has worked for all the major broadcasters, in the UK and across five continents for many years. Read more here:

Cat O’Gorman, Head of Production, Rockabox Media

Cat started out in TV in 2005 at RDF working on a variety of shows including Shipwrecked, Wifeswap and The Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work.  She continued in reality TV working at some of the top indies – Talkback Thames, Endemol and TwoFour. In 2010 she went back to RDF (Zodiak) to work in the digital department as in house PM for 3 years on multi-platform projects including Being Human for BBC 2, Gadget Geeks for Sky 1 and co-pro branded content for Renault TV, BBC Worldwide, Tourism Australia and Domino’s Pizza. Cat then spent 6 months helping set up the AudioVisual Department of PR agency Hill and Knowlton.

In April this year Cat joined Rockabox as maternity cover for the Head of Production. Most recently she has managed the global campaign for Monsoon’s Autumn Winter Collection as well as overseeing operations for the in house design studio.

David Postlethwaite, Media Parents

David Postlethwaite comes from a background in production. He was a production executive at the BBC, working across a wide range of programming,  before becoming Head of Production at a number of independents. He has worked with Amy and Media Parents since its inception and realises the importance of flexible working in the modern world.

Ezim E-Agwuegbo, Recruitment Advisor, ITV

As a Recruitment Advisor within the in-house recruitment team, Ezim takes a proactive approach in delivering a best in class recruitment service to the whole of ITV. From gathering detailed job requirements, effective campaigning, candidate screening, conducting interviews and managing the recruitment process from end to end. Ezim is always keen to connect with professionals especially within her focus areas; Commercial sales, Creative, Competition, Post Production, Marketing, Legal and Internal Communications to discuss your potential career at ITV.

Josh Moore, Head of Client Services, ENVY

Josh is the Head of Client services at ENVY. Part of his responsibility is the hiring of the junior post production staff, and mentoring them from runners until they move on to technical positions within the company.

Overseeing training alongside the heads of each technical department to ensure runners are being developed as skilled employees who can further their career within the company.

Kerry Jones, Media Parents, right!

Kerry Jones, Media Parents

Kerry Jones (nee Scourfield) is celebrating her first anniversary with Media Parents> She covers jobs and talent in the North & Scotland. After working as a Style Director at TONI&GUY, Kerry moved into TV as a Hairdresser and Makeup Artist. She worked on a variety of factual programmes from Watercolour Challenge to The Big Breakfast. Kerry moved into feature films and worked with Danny Boyle, Mike Leigh on Vera Drake, and a variety of British directors on quality period features.

Kerry left TV and London to bring up her two girls in Liverpool, but is now looking forward to working flexibly in yet another different area. She is excited to be helping parents to juggle the logistics of childcare and parenting with TV.

Gavin Ricketts, Director, Napoleon Creative

Gavin runs Napoleon Creative, a video production company and animation studio. We work doing short form videos for corporates and also doing graphics for TV shows. We’re looking to meet production managers and directors. Gavin has also written a book called Clearly Creative CVs, which helps crews win more more work.

Nikki Tilley, Head of Production, Pioneer TV

Nikki left the world of drama to join Pioneer in 2000 as a researcher and has gone on to work on numerous hours of programming across the genres ever since.  Her directing credits include Million Dollar Machines (Travel Channel) and two series of Extreme Homes (HGTV). From there Nikki went onto manage projects such as How The Earth Was Made (The History Channel),  Worlds Deadliest Places (NOVA), Birth of Europe (NGCI), Megafactories (NGCI) Secrets of the Manor House (PBS) and The Year The Earth Went Wild (Ch4/Discovery).  Nikki was made Deputy Head of Production in 2011 where she became heavily involved in all elements of production within the company whilst supervising a major new eight part series for Discovery Science (How the Earth Works). Nikki became Head of Production in 2012.

Paul Birmingham, Production Manager, Brook Lapping

Paul has been a Production Manager at Brook Lapping Productions for over a year now working on documentaries for ITV, More 4, PBS and Sky. Before that he was a PM at Mentorn mainly working on a presenter led BBC Three documentary and a science commission for Discovery, with a number of years prior to this as a Production Co-ordinator both inside and outside the BBC. The majority of Paul’s career has been working on arts programming.

Paul Buller, Editor, BBC College of Production Website

Paul Buller is editor of the BBC Academy’s College of Production website, a site packed with skills, tips and know-how for anyone working in or wanting to work in the broadcast industry.

Paul has worked in broadcast for over 17 years, producing programmes for all the major broadcasters, and regularly hosts masterclasses and sessions on how to sell yourself online.

Petra Von Schalien, General Manager, Springshot Productions

With a background working primarily in Sports and News Broadcasting, and having managed FA Premier League client accounts for Nordic broadcasters Viasat, TV2, SBS/Discovery and Canal+/MTV3 as well as produced and overseen all onsite (live/pre-recorded) productions for three seasons. Also helped set up a crewing services supplying specialised broadcast freelancers and kit to cover breaking news, sports as well as corporate events (UK Election, G20 Summit, Champions League etc), and has worked on a variety of media projects (from corporate and e-learning to documentaries) as project manager or a consultant.

Currently freelancing as a Media Consultant and acting General Manager for a London-based production company, overseeing the production of a feature length BBC-commissioned documentary.

Rachel Platt, Series Editor, Reef TV

Rachel started out as a print journalist before working in live television for about 4 years. She has since worked for RDF, Endemol, Topical, Real Life and now Reef. At Reef Rachel have worked as a series producer / series editor/ exec producer for the past two years. Productions include Sarah Beeny’s Selling Houses, Selling Houses with Amanda Lamb, French Collection, Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.

Sarah Cox, Production Manager, Leopard Films

Sarah has been working in the media industry for 14 years, mainly in factual and factual entertainment programmes, initially as a production co-ordinator and then for the last 8 years as a production manager. Sarah has worked within various companies such as Prospect Pictures, Optomen, Blast Films and currently at Leopard Films.

Media Parents next networking event is our summer CV bash on July 3rd, please join

June 30, 2014 @ 10:48 pm Posted in News Comments Off