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Author Archives: Amy Walker

About Amy Walker

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

TXing Tonight : Sue Bourne’s The Vikings are Coming BBC2

by Amy Walker

Ahead of tonight’s TX of the Vikings are Coming, esteemed documentary filmmaker Sue Bourne explains to Media Parents where the idea came from. “A director friend of mine and her partner had used danish donor sperm and that was how I first heard about it. I was amazed to discover that after beer, bacon and lego Denmark’s biggest export was sperm. Also that you could go onto the internet, browse hundreds of donors, choose your sperm, pay for it by credit card and get it delivered to your kitchen table for self insemination. That to me was remarkable. Also the fact that the biggest clientele group are now single women. Women in their thirties and forties who desperately want a baby but dont have a man. So they are, in increasing numbers using danish donor sperm to create the family they want. Have the baby first, then find the man. It really is a Brave New World.. and a fantastic subject for a documentary.”

Documentary filmmaker Sue Bourne PDed The Vikings are Coming. She can be contacted through the Networking section of www.mediaparents.co.uk

“THE VIKINGS ARE COMING is quite different from my usual films.  It was certainly one of the toughest films I have made because we were following four unfolding narratives about women trying to get pregnant using Danish Donor sperm. That is a lot of unfolding narratives if you don’t self shoot!!  It took us ages and ages also to find the women who were willing to take part in the film.

There are a lot women doing this – and growing numbers of single women – but they are wary of the press because they know there could be condemnation of the decision to have a baby on your own using donor sperm. But we got there in the end and we have some really remarkable, brave women in the film … if the film is any good its because of them.. their stories, their bravery and their quite remarkable honesty.”

It was a long long hard journey and I think/ hope the film shows just what a tough decision it is to go it alone.. and also how very very hard it is to get pregnant. I dont think any of us were really prepared for that! There is a 75 % failure rate in fertility treatment.. hard enough to go through that with a partner. Unimaginably tough to do it all alone!  I see the film as a talking point.. something that will open up the debate.. For me it opened the door into a fascinating world I didn’t know existed.. I think people will be astonished at the story we have to tell.

PD Sue Bourne. http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/collaborator/10222/sue-bourne

Please join www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, networking and events. The Media Parents Back to Work scheme is currently accepting more applicants, please email events@mediaparents.co.uk for details. www.mediaparents.co.uk Our next event will be a Production event on Feb 19th, watch this space for details.

January 29, 2015 @ 11:05 am Posted in News Leave a comment

5 minutes with Editor of Churchill TXing on Sunday Simon Ardizzone PD

by Amy Walker

Simon Ardizzone tells Media Parents how he rose to the challenge of editing ITV’s latest drama-doc -  Churchill:  100 days that saved Britain – in under five and a half weeks.   The film will be aired on Sunday 25th January at 10.15pm on ITV1.

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/7258/simon-ardizzone

For me, walking into an edit suite is always a leap into the unknown – it’s best that way.  I am the fresh eye, the first audience, the midwife.   Luckily, when it came to Churchill, I had stellar performances from an A-list cast (Robert Hardy, Jemma Redgrave, Phil Davis and newcomer Edwin Thomas) who had been adeptly directed by Marion Milne and sumptuously filmed by Andrew Muggleton.  Plus our archive researcher, Geoff Walton, had unearthed some gorgeous WWII colour archive.  Easy you would think….  Well, actually no.

It is a paradox that the better the material you edit, the more difficult it is.  Bad material is often quite easy – you cut out the obvious mistakes and make the best of what’s left.  But how do you make the best out of three or four nuanced options in Robert Hardy’s compelling performance?  Was Churchill a depressive? A warrior? Or a fearful old man?  It was all there in the performance and without a full script in place, it is down to the editor, director and execs to find their way through – in just five weeks.

I count myself hugely lucky.  I have had a varied telly career with work ranging from hard-core current affairs for Unreported World and Dispatches, through to factual entertainment like Bridezilla and At Home With The Eubanks, as well as plenty of specialist-factual.  Each one helps you develop a different story muscle, and when you’re trying to deliver a non-formatted doc to a demanding mainstream broadcaster like ITV1, you fall back on the lessons you’ve learned.  So what are those lessons?

Think about the story ASAP.

Seriously, don’t bimble about, don’t just try to paint pretty pictures.  We take it for granted that editors are good at creating sequences, but most of us are good writers too.  Working alongside my director Marion, we would draft and re-draft the script as well as re-record commentary every day.  You’re not just looking at structure and storytelling, the tone of the words in the commentary is really important too.  Are you using short Anglo-Saxon words (think Sun headline)?   Or are you using the more intellectual vocabulary, drawn from French, Latin and Greek?  How does the language sound when spoken?  Do you start too many sentences with “but” or “however”?  Are your sentences so long that you forget the subject by the time you get to the end?  Do the words feel concrete, compelling and accessible, or a bit vague and abstract?  And finally, do you commit that big sin, of just saying what you are about to see and hear?

Create moments.

Your audience will come away with two or three scenes in their heads.  Critics will write about them, viewers will discuss them.  Make sure you know what those scenes are.  Set up the dramatic tension, let the scene breathe so that they audience understands and feels the dilemma emotionally – and then, give a good pay off/resolution.

Use music library executives.

We had no budget for a composer so one of the first things I did was pick up the phone to Universal and EMI and commission music searches.  I always try to be specific about the emotions and atmospheres a film needs.  If you ask for music ‘for a war film’ you are likely to get something that sounds straightforwardly military.  Instead ask for composers that you like, (we ended up with a lot of tracks by Daniel Pemberton), and complex emotions like ‘fearful but determined’.  This is particularly important when you have nuanced performances, otherwise you kill your film’s greatest asset.  I always try to specify a range of instrumentation like ‘orchestral but with some non-classical instruments’.  Be patient if you aren’t getting the right tracks.  In the end, we commissioned about ten searches from each library and music was the biggest challenge of the film, but we managed to achieve a big, classy, modern orchestral feel that gave the film drive and emotional power.

Be clear what the demands of your slot are.

Working on shows like Channel 5’s Autopsy teaches you to follow the rules of your genre.  So don’t think you know best and ditch the conventions; they are there for a reason and you will soon get in to trouble if you ignore them. You might think that films like Churchill: 100 Days that Changed Britain have different, more ‘creative’ rules than other factual shows, but it’s not true.  Genre is all about the audience’s expectations and setting up a clear story is even more important with more authored one-off films that don’t have a clear story format.  Getting to the kind of clarity that will pull in a mainstream audience is hard whichever films you are making.

If it feels boring you probably don’t have the most vivid facts.

It is not called factual programming for nothing, and it is amazing how you can ramp up drama with a few well-chosen figures or factoids.  The Battle of Britain is much more exciting when you give the actual number of downed Allied planes versus the number of German planes.

Use your execs.

They want your work to be better.  We were lucky to have Ollie Tait as our exec at Shiver and Jo Clinton-Davis as our commissioning editor, both were very demanding and very supportive.  We all have horror stories of interference from our higher-ups, but when you are really pushed for time, they are a valuable resource – men and women who have seen a lot of programming and know what works.

And finally,

you have to give yourself time and space to enjoy your material.

It can be hard to sit down and try to see the film afresh after a hard day’s work, but that’s what your audience is going to do.  I feel very privileged to have worked on Churchill: 100 Days that Changed Britain.  I hope you enjoy the film too.

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/7258/simon-ardizzone Simon is an award-winning shooting PD and editor.

Please join www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, networking and events. The Media Parents Back to Work scheme is currently accepting more applicants, please email events@mediaparents.co.uk for details. www.mediaparents.co.uk Our next event will be at the end of Feb, watch this space for details.

January 23, 2015 @ 12:31 pm Posted in News Comments Off

Media Parents New Year Drinks Guestlist

by Amy Walker

We’re delighted to be hosting drinks next week, kindly sponsored by Procam Television in Central London. We’re celebrating 2015 with a talented bunch of commisisoners, employers and freelancers, including the brilliant ladies on our Back to Work Scheme. Amongst others, we’ll be welcoming back Discovery’s Director of Factual Programming, Helen Hawken, and Channel 5′s Head of In House Production, Andra Heritage, pictured below.

Discovery Commissioning Editor Helen Hawken with Channel 5's Andra Heritage. Pictured at Media Parents' October event, they will be joining us in Soho next Wednesday.

We’ll also be welcoming Channel 5 Commissioning Editor Michelle Chappell and National Geographic Executive Producer Carolyn Payne, both mentors for the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme, amongst others. You can see the full guestlist here media parents guestlist. The guestlist is currently full but we’re hoping to release a few more tickets before Wednesday so watch this space. Look forward to seeing you there!

Media Parents' Kerry Jones and Amy Walker will be at the party on the 21st of Jan, accompanied by David Postlethwaite.

This event is being hosted by Molinare and sponsored by Procam Television who will be joining us on the night, so please meet…

Andrew Black, Procam's Director of Client Relations.

Andrew Black, Director of Client Relations, Procam Television

Andrew has  over 20 years of experience in the broadcast industry in both production and broadcast hire. He has produced numerous DRTV commercials and has extensive experience in broadcast hire, supplying kit and crew to several shows including Red or Black for ITV, The Great British Bake Off, Last Man Standing, to name a few.

Paul Sargeant, COO, Procam Television

Paul Sargeant, COO, Procam Television

https://uk.linkedin.com/pub/paul-sargeant/63/b36/b31

Anushka Ayaru is no longer able to attend.

Please join www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, networking and events. The Media Parents Back to Work scheme is currently accepting more applicants, please email events@mediaparents.co.uk for details. www.mediaparents.co.uk Our next event will be a drinks party for members on January 21st.

January 15, 2015 @ 11:28 pm Posted in News Comments Off

5 minutes with Director David Pearson whose short film is showing in London on Weds 14th Jan

by Amy Walker

Five minutes with director David Pearson on making swans act

David Pearson with Nadia Serantes and Jon Cleave on location for Black Car Home. David is in the TALENT section of www.mediaparents.co.uk photo : Jimmy Edmonds

The sound coming from the white van as it pulled up was muted, but unmistakable, writes David Pearson. Like a trumpeter on steroids playing after a rough night out in Soho being arrested.  This was the “swan truck” and Lloyd Buck, expert bird handler, warned me the director of Black Car Home that none of the four inmates might play ball, “as Henry is a bit grumpy.”

Jon Cleave and Olive in Black Car Home. photo : Jimmy Edmonds

Welcome to the world of animal actors and my first time directing a fiction film intended for the cinema and showing at the BAFTA qualifying London Short Film Festival this week. Although I have previously successfully directed many TV documentaries, short dramas and bits of comedy, produced or inated ed ought ct ors, bird and human with respect and care. iosn to it. www.blackcarhome.com  . He asked to see texecutive produced for TV and cinema; won awards and been Oscar shortlisted and BAFTA & Emmy Nominated, here I was in sub-zero temperatures trying to get an animal to act with humans for “Black Car Home”. Must be mad I thought, comforting myself that at least I hadn’t written any child characters into the script.
I watched the van’s tailgate open. Had Henry alienated them all?  It was Olive who came gamely waddling down the ramp.  Lloyd gave me the thumbs up. She was soon in position on the set with DOP Ian Salvage and go to bird camera operator Mark Payne-Gill in position with their Alexa cameras, and actors Nadia Serantes and Jon Cleave rehearsed and ready to go, watched by a nervous crew of 30.

The crew of Black Car Home. http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/1453/david-pearson. photo : Jimmy Edmonds

My approach to film making is to be well prepared, be clear, have back up plans and get great people working with me, and Lloyd and his wife Rose were no exception. But a Plan B for climatic scene with a swan is difficult, if no swans cooperate.

I asked Lloyd how close to the script Rose could get- not expecting miracles. “Oh all of it as intended,” he said”, with luck.”

Gently shepherded by Lloyd and his wife Rose we started and I found myself asking a swan to, “please go again”.  Would she mind walking closer to Nathan, played by Jon Cleave, to show intimacy?  With Lloyd’s expert help she did. What a pro performer! Then she had to fly off on cue. It was all achieved and the shots by Mark and Ian look beautiful. Finely edited by David Thrasher, and with music and sound added the scene makes its mark.

Cinema audiences have gasped and after screening audience questionnaires cite the scene as one of the most memorable and striking scenes in the film- well it is the climax!
All my previous directing experience proved useful transitioning to make this darkly comic fiction film about an illegal immigrant being rescued by a homeless man. So what did I learn? That like your crew, directors must treat all actors, bird and human, with respect, care and understanding.  www.blackcarhome.com


You can judge the result at the film’s showing in the BAFTA qualifying, London Short Film Festival on the 14th January at 1845 as part of a programme on REFUGEE, ASYLUM & GLOBAL MOVEMENT tickets here.

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/1453/david-pearson

Please join www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, networking and events. The Media Parents Back to Work scheme is currently accepting more applicants, please email events@mediaparents.co.uk for details. www.mediaparents.co.uk Our next event will be a drinks party for members on January 21st.

January 12, 2015 @ 5:26 pm Posted in News Comments Off

5 minutes with preeya nair producer director

by Amy Walker

I’ve had a great career working as a self-shooting documentary director making children’s documentaries for Channel 5. I set up my company, Flying Elephant Films, the week before my daughter was born, got our first commission to make a 26 part series the week after.

Preeya Nair's work with Art for Change. http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/9186/preeya-nair

Breastfeeding made travelling all over the UK a possibility. The early years were amazing, I produced my husband’s first feature film which we made with money we earned from making children’s programmes. We bought a camera from an Italian director on the internet, filming on a remote island in India. It packed up as soon as the shoot was finished. The film won Camera D’Or at Cannes.

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/9186/preeya-nair

We made the decision a few years ago that we wanted our two daughters to experience life in India. Our commissioning editor was really understanding, since we travelled all over the world making programmes for him, it did not matter where we were based.  All went fine, I got a BAFTA nomination for a film I made about a little girl who was forced to work for a living. It won many awards, but the most important thing was that I managed to get her back into school.

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/9186/preeya-nair

We went to the Himalayas, did a road trip across north India in a camper van. Then our commissioning editor at Five was given early retirement. We were in India with kids settled in school and no work from the UK. Fortunately we had the features as well, and Virgin Goat where I was a production designer, was purchased by Channel 4 and Arte.

Preeya Nair's work with charity Art for Change. http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/9186/preeya-nair

We set up our own Charity, Art for Change, teaching film to people who don’t get access to the media, and worked with local NGOs. Over the last 3 years I have taught documentary to gypsy women, storytelling to orphan children from SOS and helped them make a short fiction film. Earlier this year I taught Muslim girls in a slum, who had never in their lives been further than their street, to make films. I followed  a group of  young Muslim women  who had never stood up to domestic violence, going door-to-door to empower other women. I travelled to a remote village in the Terai in Nepal to teach a group of women how to use cameras. Their menfolk had all left to work abroad, the village was being run entirely by women. Ten years ago the women were veiled and not allowed to walk the streets alone. Now they were handling cameras and interviewing each other. It was exciting.

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/9186/preeya-nair

I grew a lot during my years in India. I learnt a lot about people and seeing things from different points of view. Six months ago we decided to come back to the UK to improve our chances of getting work. Now I’m back in the UK and  I’ve been sending my cv around for 5 months. Things were pretty quiet, I made a little film about a children’s  park we always went to with the kids by the Thames, which was going to be demolished, and helped win that campaign.

Nothing happened workwise ‘til the BAME event at the BBC where I met Amy, and Carrie Britton, a Talent manager at the BBC who has been helping me to re-write my cv and is sending it out for me. Its very scary sometimes, to realize we have two kids to support in this very expensive country. But I tell myself that if I have survived sixteen years as a film-maker, then I will find a way to carry on. I’ve had a fantastic life, brought up two girls who are very close to me and met many amazing people. I’ve seen people survive with practically nothing and learnt that one actually needs very little to be happy!

http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/9186/preeya-nair

Please join www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, networking and events. The Media Parents Back to Work scheme is currently accepting more applicants, please email events@mediaparents.co.uk for details. www.mediaparents.co.uk Our next event will be a drinks party for members on January 21st.

December 23, 2014 @ 12:17 am Posted in News Comments Off

5 minutes with Katherine Eisner on funding from non-broadcast sources

by Amy Walker

Media Parents Networker and Cocaine Unwrapped Producer Katherine Eisner writes about funding from non-broadcast sources.

To contact Cocaine Unwrapped Producer Katherine Eisner please go here: http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/collaborator/9944/katherine-eisner

    Funding is often what stops a great idea in its tracks.

    Over the years I’ve solved this by using alternative sources to top up money from broadcasters or finance films from scratch.

    Who Will Finance Projects?

    A range of organisations will put money into the right kind of project.

    • Non- Governmental Organizations (NGO’s)
    • International Agencies like the UN
    • Private Foundations
    • Government Ministries

    Example:

    I raised additional money from a Danish NGO for a film about the collapsing Chernobyl sarcophagus (commissioned by Swedish TV) and co-produced with Cicada Films. This enabled us to spend longer time filming at the Chernobyl site.

    Katherine Eisner raised funding for Collapsing Chernobyl, produced with Cicada Films.

    How much can be raised?

    • The amounts of money vary from £3,000 to £5,000 to one- off amounts of  £20,000.
    • Finance can mount up with clusters of funders attached to one project.

    Example:

    • For the cinema documentary, Cocaine Unwrapped (Dartmouth Films) extra money was needed to film this ambitious story, about the impact of the drugs trade on communities in Latin America and the US. I raised production money from a Dutch NGO and funds for the outreach from the Boell Foundation.

    Still from Dartmouth Films' Cocaine Unwrapped

    Outreach

    • Outreach is important since funders want films to have impact and reach out beyond the TV, cinema screen or website.
    • Example:
    • A film about chemical pollution in the Arctic commissioned by NRK (Norway) and co-o financed by environmental groups was also used by Scandinavian educators in classrooms and by Arctic research institutes in their outreach.

    Is it only Documentaries that could be funded in this way?

    • This approach could also be used for dramas and drama docs.
    • It depends on the story, treatment and factors like timing.

    Katherine Eisner Bio

    Katherine has spent the last 15 years producing TV news features and short documentaries.

    • She has filmed stories from the collapsing Chernobyl sarcophagus to an interview with and profile of Oscar Niemeyer, the great architect.
    • Commissions include C4 News, BBC World, SVT, YLE; consultancies include the Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway.
    • Recent projects include the cinema feature Cocaine Unwrapped (co-producer) for Dartmouth Films.

    Katherine is known for getting projects off the ground and developing innovative approaches.

    • At Associated Press TV News – (Executive Producer) she developed a new market for APTN’s commercial arm bringing in over $1.2 million from organisations such as the Asian Development Bank and UNICEF.
    • She pioneered co-productions between TV broadcasters and organisations (charities, foundations) attracting new audiences beyond the TV screen.
    • A film about chemical contamination in the Arctic commissioned by Norwegian TV was also used by Scandinavian educators in classrooms and by Arctic research institutes in their outreach.
    • Katherine developed new sources of funds for the Panos Institute (media NGO and model for the BBC’s Media Action) of which she was a founder member and Development Director.
    • Over $1mliion was raised from other charities in the US and Europe for Panos projects (books, workshops, meetings).

    Making international stories relevant to domestic audiences in Europe and the USA (where she lived for seven years) is key to Katherine’s approach.

    • For the cinema documentary Cocaine Unwrapped she planned activities in New York, Washington DC, LA and Berlin with organisations from universities (Johns Hopkins) to grassroots groups, MOMS United Against the War on Drugs.
    • She also organised briefings for specialised media in Washington DC, San Francisco and Boston for the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) as Marketing Director.

    Katherine ‘s experience of international organisations includes:

    • UNICEF (UN- New York) co-ordinating global media campaigns
    • OXFAM (UK) managing a team of campaigners raising funds and awareness

    Katherine’s corporate experience includes:

    • Saatchi and Saatchi on the management side – where she began her career
    • http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/collaborator/9944/katherine-eisner

    Please join www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, networking and events. The Media Parents Back to Work scheme is currently accepting more applicants, please email events@mediaparents.co.uk for details. www.mediaparents.co.uk

    December 12, 2014 @ 1:14 pm Posted in News Comments Off

    5 minutes with…Anna Burns, Edit Producer

    by Amy Walker

    Before I had my daughter I was a Producer/Director on all sorts of weird and wonderful shows, never quite knowing where my next adventure would be, writes Anna Burns.

    Anna Burns on the Shipwrecked team. http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/3529/anna-burns

    From a desert island in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean (Shipwrecked) to an operating theatre filming, gulp, cosmetic surgery (10 Years Younger) or in Rio with a bunch of hot young things (Britain’s Next Top Model) to nudists in New York (What’s The Problem with Anne Robinson). Wherever my job took me I was sure to have an experience I would never forget.

    As a kid my Dad used to mock me ‘Anna if there were exams in TV you’d pass with flying colours.’ ‘Haha Dad!’ but maybe he was on to something. After leaving Uni I started out as runner at Granada TV.  There I worked my way up through the ranks, from junior researcher to researcher to Insert Director. And on some of the biggest entertainment shows at that time ‘Stars In Their Eyes’ (Matthew Kelly is genuinely THE nicest man in show business) ‘Celebrity Stars in Their Eyes (yes Rachel Hunter I will never forget your impersonation of Marilyn Monroe) and ‘You’ve Been Framed’ (nothing funnier than dogs and cats).

    After four unforgettable years at Granada and just days before Christmas I impulsively said yes to a job in London, starting the day after New Year’s Day. Was I mad? No place to live and just a handful of people I knew down there, I packed up my car and off I went. My Dad’s last words ‘The road goes both ways’. I never looked back.

    Have Format Will Travel session at Salford with Cat Lewis. http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/3529/anna-burns

    I got to work on all types of shows – T4′s Popworld, The Frank Skinner Show, The Patrick Kielty Show (lucky Cat Deeley)… I even tried my hand at a quiz show ‘Soap Addicts’. Never seen it? No, nor did many others. But then I got a great opportunity to AP on Wife Swap USA for ABC Television. Wow that is one show that will stay with me forever. A home schooling, vegan, bible bashing family from Florida Vs. an extremely loud, meat eating, cursing family from Virginia. Fireworks. On that I learnt how to make the best telly from a great director, Tayte Simpson. AND how to talk someone back into agreeing to be filmed when they are about to call time on the whole programme. Disaster averted.
    Soon after I was directing programmes of my own and I took everything I had learnt in all those years to create the best TV I could. But then whilst stood in four inches of snow, in the middle of nowhere filming for The Biggest Loser, I was battling morning sickness and I knew this would be my last chance to direct. Having a child would mean I could no longer pack a bag at a moments notice and disappear around the country or the world for what could be months, nor would I want to.

    "…Loads of our Edit Producers are Mums." Sorted.

    So in the later stages of my pregnancy I edit produced. I had stepped into this role before on Supersize V Superskinny and How To Look Good Naked. And sometimes as a director I think we can become too close to our rushes. When you edit produce you bring another way of looking at it, fresh eyes I guess. Then the Exec of Masterchef, David Ambler, bumped into me when I was about to drop and said ‘…just let me know when you’re ready to come back to work, loads of our Edit Producers are Mums’. Sorted.

    However, what I didn’t plan for was soon after having my daughter I became a single parent. I was left with no choice but to relocate back to the north for the support of my family. If life is like a game of snakes and ladders that was one big snake I went down. Right back to where I started at my Mum and Dad’s. I felt like the cards were stacked against me now, all my contacts were in London and I was not just a parent trying to figure a way back into TV but a single parent. If I’m not at home to put my daughter to bed who is? She’d be like orphan Annie.

    I have edit produced a few programmes since I’ve been back in Manchester – CBBC’s Marrying Mum & Dad, BBC3′s Young Tailor of the Year, Channel 4′s Baggage – all thanks to the support of the BBC’s Talent Manager, Victoria Roye.  And I’ve made it work for the job and my daughter. But the contracts have been few and far between. And although my experience may get me an interview, the fact I can’t pull long hours at the drop of the hat won’t always work for a programme, especially if it’s a new series. I get it though, sometimes a show can face difficulties in the edit and the only way to fix it is to put your nose to the grindstone.

    Anna Burns at Salford Media Festival with Back to Work Content Producer Shamaila Khan.

    I recently went for dinner with a couple of old telly friends, an Exec and a Director. When I explained I felt TV had turned its back on me because I could no longer give my life to the job, they looked at me and said ‘Well yes, what did you expect?’ So just when I was starting to feel invisible and like ‘Is this it? Do I go and get a boring job and live out the rest of my boring life?’ I heard about the Media Parents Back To Work Scheme. And more excitingly a chance to attend the Nations & Regions Conference at Media City. Amy Walker looked at my CV, said I had great credits and she’d love to invite me. Right there and then, with just those words, I felt excited about TV again.

    The two days I spent at the festival gave me the boost I needed.  To just be in the same room as Peter Fincham, the Director of ITV, the CEO of Nine Lives, Cat Lewis and Nell Butler, the brains behind Come Dine With Me, was great. Some interesting discussions were had, should the BBC still have the licence fee? That debate will rage on. How our viewing habits have changed and the future is more and more we like to select our own nights entertainment through IPlayer, Netflix, Sky On Demand…But still roughly over 90% of us want to be a part of live TV.  And it’s partly Twitter, Facebook we have to thank for that. Rather than waiting to discuss what went down on Corrie over a coffee at work, we can discuss it with friends or strangers online there and then. There was a discussion on the rise and possibly fall of TV formats and I learnt a new buzz word, ‘fixed rig’ as in One Born Every Minute. But the big news for me is it’s the YouTubers who could be stealing our attention soon and already have followings bigger than Gaga’s ‘Monsters’. We’ll see, I personally hadn’t heard of half the YouTube names banded about. Guess I’m out of touch and need to watch something other than CBeebies.

    What I did take away from everything said was that the TV industry is more exciting than ever, with endless possibilities given the imaginations we have, the technology now there for us to keep telling those stories. But as someone who is not a huge fan of politicians, I was happy to duck out of Harriet Harman’s address to instead meet with ITV’s Talent Exec, Tracy Walker thanks to Media Parents.  I had a great meeting with Tracy, also a Mum, discussing all sorts of avenues of work for me. So I don’t think Harriet would feel too snubbed.
    Overall it was fantastic to be part of such an amazing TV festival and mostly because it reminded me that I do want to work in TV, it’s all I’ve known, it’s what I love and I’m good at it. And why should being a parent stop me in my tracks?

    I think my ‘networking’ skills were a little rusty and maybe I was grinning inanely at everyone. But as there was no alcohol involved I think it’s safe to say I didn’t embarrass myself, too much. Let’s hope this is the start of a new chapter in my career, and in mine and my daughter’s life.

    "Right there and then, with just those words, I felt excited about TV again…Let's hope this is the start of a new chapter in my career and in mine and my daughter's life." Please contact Anna to book her via http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/3529/anna-burns

    Please join www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, networking and events. The Media Parents Back to Work scheme is currently accepting more applicants, please email events@mediaparents.co.uk for details. Christmas drinks for freelancers TONIGHT December 4th are detailed on the watercooler at www.mediaparents.co.uk

    December 4, 2014 @ 7:47 am Posted in News Comments Off

    announcing the nations & regions back to work winners

    by Amy Walker

    We’re delighted to be partnering with the Salford Media Festival, and reintroducing two mums to TV via the Nations & Regions TV conference this week. If you are attending the festival please come to find us and say hi, if you’re not, please see our twitterfeed @mediaparents where we will be sharing knowledge from the lectures. Here they are…

    anna burns, edit producer

    Anna Burns is an edit producer with 17 years TV experience, looking for work in Manchester.

    I wish to return to work as an Edit Producer. I worked as a Producer/Director prior to having my daughter but as a single parent I am now unable to commit to working away on location. However, I enjoy the role an Edit Producer brings and my many years of shooting and cutting my own programmes means I have great experience of the edit. I also wish to gain new contacts within TV companies in the north, as I lived and worked in London for the most part of my career many of my contacts are still based there.  So it would be great to meet various companies based at Media City.

    shamaila khan, content producer / researcher

    Shamaila Khan is a web content producer looking to return to broadcast as a researcher.

    Since taking voluntary redundancy from the BBC (after my daughter was born) I have worked part time on two short term contracts for Rasa Productions a theatre company.

    I worked for the BBC in Manchester for nearly ten years on various websites as a researcher and then assistant content producer before the relocation to Media City.

    My plan for returning to work (in the media) after four years is getting back to work I enjoyed and want to be a part of again.

    I also want to work in areas which my previous contracts/work commitments may have restricted me from i.e Television and Radio.

    I am happy to undergo more training if necessary as I am aware I may not possess all the necessary skills for a TV role and also understand that four years away from the media can result in lots of change.

    I feel that starting again is nerve wracking  but also exciting as I want to devote the time I have (now that both children are at school) to work that I am passionate about but also something I feel I am good at.

    I would love to work as a researcher ideally in Entertainment/Drama or Children’s TV, I enjoy these subject matters and could be an asset to but I am also willing to consider any work that gets me back into the media.

    The flexibility of working when you are solely responsible for school runs and children’s welfare while working at a location that may not be close to home will be a challenge but one that I will happily accept, you never know until you give it a try!

    Amy Walker, Media Parents director (pictured left), will be at the festival with Anna and Shamaila. Please stop us and say hi or tweet us @mediaparents where we will be sharing knowledge from the festival.

    Please join www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, networking and events. The Media Parents Back to Work scheme is currently accepting more applicants, please email events@mediaparents.co.uk for details.

    November 17, 2014 @ 7:40 pm Posted in News Comments Off

    5 minutes with… Rachel Tierney, PD

    by Amy Walker

    Mired in the snotty, skint end of maternity leave, my first thought at seeing the Media Parents Back to Work scheme was a wistful “wouldn’t that be nice” before rescuing the baby from the stairs.  But two people sending me the link in one weekend was a sign – or at least, enough to register in my sleep-addled brain, so I applied.

    Rachel Tierney, second from right, with the Media Parents geitf Back to Work Scheme Winners.

    And got a place. NOW the logistics started.  Could I really leave the baby for three nights?  Could her dad get time off work at short notice?  If the baby (and dad) survived would I survive the emotional wrench? It was a crash course in Getting On with It – a trial run for string-pulling behind the scenes without letting work down.

    Then it dawned on me. Three nights. Away. In a bed. With just myself. Emotional wrench that it indeed was it was also the most exciting prospect I’d faced for many months…

    Pretty much the best thing about the scheme was being plonked, without baby / household / distraction, right in the middle of TV world. This isn’t dipping a toe back in – it’s full on, 10hr days of just thinking, talking, listening, watching TV and the executives running the TV industry. Intimidating, overwhelming, intense, yes – but so quickly exhilarating and inspiring, too.  With admittedly, moments of “so nothing’s changed…”

    Realisation dawns on Rachel Tierney that she has a bed to herself!

    After a year away from development meetings and commissioner briefings I was keen to see the Meet the Controller sessions. Informative and entertaining, these were a great way to get up to date on what different channels are looking for, what’s coming up and where things have moved on to (or not) since I last worked in development. There was the odd edgy moment such as when Charlotte Moore faced repeated questioning from Krishnan Guru-Murthy about being a woman (and nice) in charge of BBC One – frustrating to watch, when no one had raised the issue with Danny Cohen, Cassian Harris or later Peter Fincham.  The latter handled his own interrogation about “risk” (TV buzzword of the moment) with wit…

    Diversity was also on the agenda, with sessions exploring TV’s record on and off camera.  Sky is introducing quotas; the BBC was keen to talk up its forthcoming Black Britain season, which includes a David Olusoga-fronted History of Black Britain (which won TWO CDN Diversity Awards last night). I was glad to see this is one conversation at least which does seem to be moving forward since I last hung out in TV world… Time will tell.

    Rachel Tierney is a Producer Director getting back to work.

    My favourite session, being a nosy parker (why else would I work in documentaries?!) was Sizzles that Sold the Show.  An extremely rare opportunity to spy on other people’s taster tapes and hear why they did or didn’t work… 50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy was the standout winner, a funny, lo-fi tape with no bells and whistles, just a smart idea with great characterful delivery.  30% of first pitches now apparently arrive on commissioners’ desks with an (unfunded) tape – so smart, cheap ideas are the way forward.  Although one of the panellists was from content agency Fifth Street, and revealed that production companies hire his services to make killer sizzle tapes. That can’t be cheap.

    I also went to How to be a Better Indie, expecting to learn how to handle the commissioning process better in the eyes of broadcasters, though it was also largely about how indies treat freelancers. Well, yup, it ain’t always great, hence the anxiety I and other Back to Workers were feeling about returning to the workplace. Still with betty and Wall to Wall represented on stage it’s clear production companies can make it work for all concerned.

    The most depressing session for me, and not just because I’m waving goodbye to the age bracket, was about the 16-34 audience. A lively and riled-up panel discussed where now for young viewers, with BBC Three facing a move online (“a kick in the knickers”, Fox Project’s Georgia said..).  An impassioned exploration of what TV does, and should mean for younger viewers – and where it, and they, might go in the future.

    Networking is not my favourite thing, especially in an environment where everyone else is GO GO GO and you’re still trying to remember where you left your self-confidence (somewhere around 7cm dilated, probably).  But with allies in the other Back to Workers and the fab mentoring from Amy Walker I did feel able to get involved.

    6 Media Parents Back to Work Scheme winners will attend the Televisual Festival, please say Hi! Here 2014 GEITF Back to Work Scheme Winners at the Edinburgh TV Festival and Media Parents' Amy Walker, 3rd from right, next to Rachel Tierney.

    So, a success.  I felt reconnected with the industry, my lactating boobs didn’t explode after three nights away, and most importantly, my partner welcomed me home with the darkly muttered words “…I don’t know how you do it”. Quite.

    Please join www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, networking and events. The Media Parents Back to Work scheme is offering two FREE places at the Nations & Regions TV Conference in SALFORD. Apply by 5pm on Friday 14th Nov to events@mediaparents.co.uk for details.

    November 12, 2014 @ 3:27 pm Posted in News Comments Off

    5 minutes with Jamie Farnell-Warren…Composer

    by Amy Walker

    “After becoming a dad nearly four years ago it has been quite an act juggling work and childcare”, writes Composer Jamie Farnell-Warren. “Quite apart from this I am very sorry to report that composers, of which I am one, are feeling rather unloved presently.”

    Jamie Farnell-Warren: "Composers… are feeling rather unloved recently." http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/7833/jamie-farnell-warren

    The rise of the behemoth that is ‘The Music Production Library’  hasn’t helped us much by spewing great masses of cheap music into the factual world of programming. Libraries do have a part to play but they pay composers very little and only the person who owns the library really makes any decent money. As  freelance composers we are seriously struggling to compete. I know there are some great directors/producers out there who still value composers and the music we create and I have worked with many of them so many thanks to you. So my message is if you invest so much time on making a great film please invest in a person and some original bespoke music and release your editor from spending 12 hours sifting through 1000 library pieces.

    We are also actually quite a bit cheaper than you might think.”

    "Composers… actually quite a bit cheaper than you might think" Jamie Farnell-Warren.

    I have composed for factual/film and documentary and as a member of the BBC Worldwide Composers group and from that I’m asked to pitch on many upcoming BBC productions. I was asked to compose the soundtrack to  the six part series ‘INDIAN OCEANS WITH SIMON REEVE’ for BBC2 putting together an eclectic soundtrack which comprised huge orchestral scores, African vocal songs and everything in between!

    Following on from this my next BBC4 series ‘BULLETS BOOTS & BANDAGES’ also highlighted  the diversity of my work moving from huge orchestral themes through to delicate piano sonatas.

    As a result I was asked to compose the quirky soundtrack for the BBC1 show ‘ALLOTMENT WARS’ through ‘WILD PICTURES’.
 I’ve also worked on many US shows and have had music featured on  ’AMERICAN IDOL’, ‘SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE’  & ‘THE SQUAD PRISON POLICE’ to name but a few..

    Have a listen/watch to my music show reel and if you do require an experienced composer on your next project please drop me a line or advertise your job with Amy on the Media parents website.

    cheers
 Jamie

    http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/7833/jamie-farnell-warren
    www.jamiefarnellwarren.com

    Recent Credits:

    ITV1 1 x 45mins ‘Man to Manta with Martin Clunes’

    BBC2 6 x 1hr ‘Indian Oceans with Simon Reeve’

    BBC4 3 x 1hr ‘Bullets, boots & bandages’

    BBC1  1 x 1hr ‘Allotment Wars’
A&E

    6 x 45mins ‘The Squad’

    Please join www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, networking and events. The Media Parents Back to Work scheme is offering two FREE places at the Nations & Regions TV Conference in SALFORD. Apply by 5pm on Monday 10th Nov to events@mediaparents.co.uk for details.

    November 7, 2014 @ 1:27 pm Posted in News Comments Off