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.

In celebration of World Autism Week

by Amy Walker

Did you know that Dan Ackroyd has Asperger’s and Daryl Hannah has an Autistic Spectrum Disorder. They have gone public in support of World Autism Week, and a Media Parents mum has written for our blog about her experience of Autism.

It’s World Autism Awareness Week and for the first time we are starting to see the world as it is for our 7 year old. She has recently been diagnosed with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder, in a milder form than others, but still presenting challenges for a parent on a daily basis. Simple things such as being ready to leave the house for school can be so difficult, yet it had never occurred to me why until we attended a workshop designed to support parents with ASD children.

We have been lucky enough to take part in a five week parental workshop run by a school that only has pupils with ASD (our child is in mainstream education elsewhere). I realised children on the spectrum process things differently to non spectrum children, but the insight provided by the facilitator’s husband, who has Asperger’s, gave a down to earth perspective that made the penny drop. We process everything around us, conversations, noises, smells, with very little conscious thought or effort, however everything surrounding a child with ASD requires a huge amount of processing often resulting in a considerable stress for them.

The husband describes an ASD person as an old fashioned filing system and a non spectrum person like a computer. If we want to find out some information we click Google and type something in, get instant options as results, quickly scan and click the one we want, read it and move on. A person with ASD has to walk to the filing cabinet, open it, search though all the sub files, pull out the correct one, sit down and read it, find the correct place to return it and close the cabinet. Never again will we lose our patience when I say “Come down, put your socks and shoes on, get your coat, its time to go. Hurry up!” I honestly believed this to be one thing I’m asking but to my 7 year old it’s seven separate things ! When five minutes later none of those things has happened I now know she is still processing the first thing “Come down”!

Please join for great jobs, networking and events. Our next event will be in London on April 28th so save the date. Details will be emailed through the site.

We wont profess to understanding the condition yet, but being introduced to a support person who has personal insight and experience is invaluable in understanding more. We can all look up facts about things but sometimes applying those facts to our own situation can be a bit overwhelming to say the least. Add to that that those facts on ASD are all based on boys and their symptoms and behavior – very few girls have been studied and they are a very different kettle of fish. Boys usually present quite distinctly whereas girls will watch their peers and become very good at mimicking and copying to fit in, thus “hiding” the symptoms. They are all about emotions which makes it harder to spot and trickier to deal with. We also learnt from the workshop that every single thing they get upset about is for a reason. It is NEVER over nothing and it requires the day or moment to be unpicked in fine detail to determine the trigger and deal with it. Hard enough in itself but we were then informed the trigger may not be the situation that you are in when you have the meltdown and upset. It may have been something four hours earlier but they have only just felt able to release their feelings!

If you are going through the assessment process or you have already been given a diagnosis don’t keep quiet. There is support out there but due to a huge lack of funding it is very under resourced and you need to keep shouting till you find it. It took two years to get to where we are now and I have been on the phone a lot to all the different departments involved pushing for information! If you do have a girl who is going through the pathway it is worth searching recent research done on the difference between the sexes. Ask your Speech and Language therapist if she knows of any particular research that has been published. Not one person could believe our daughter has been given this diagnosis, they all think she’s incredibly easy to talk to and grown up. She has copied her parents well obviously!

Please do visit for more information. There is a stigma surrounding Autism largely due to lack of knowledge. Use this week as a reason to find out a bit more!

March 23, 2015 @ 1:10 pm Posted in News Comments Off

5 minutes with Sarah Lee Jones part time producer

by Amy Walker

Sarah-Lee Jones joined Future Artists a month after giving birth to her first child, Indi-Lee.  Having previously worked as a Casting Producer and in the TV industry for eight years, Sarah-Lee talks about her experience of getting back into the industry part time, and the challenges she faced as a new mum.

Sarah Lee Jones : “Without deviation from the norm progress is not possible” – Frank Zappa

Nothing can prepare you for becoming a parent for the first time. I used to moan A LOT about being tired and working 15 hours a day while casting for TV shows but looking back, I can honestly say that was a walk in the park compared to the first few months of being a mum!

I always planned to return to work as I love what I do but I worried about how I would cope with the long hours as well as looking after Indi-Lee.  After my maternity, I had a number of interviews for TV jobs, which I believe went really well until I mentioned I was a single parent, with no childcare other than day nursery 8am-6pm.

Every knockback really stung. I felt the years of experience and the network of contacts I had built meant nothing. I felt like I had been pushed to the side all because I decided to start a family.

Sarah Lee Jones at work with Future Artists on their feature Portal.

I first discovered Future Artists, an award winning independent film company and distributor, at a networking event in 2009 when I met the founder, Mark Ashmore.  The ethos of the company sounded like a great place to work.

Future Artists works on a four day week (Monday’s off) and I was able to choose my working hours to suit nursery times (8am-4pm). Because Future Artists is a collective of projects, I am constantly learning new skills from film distribution to fine art!

In 2010, I was asked to co-produce The Lost Generation, my first feature film. In 2014, I was asked to co-produce Portal, a sci-fi web-series for Dailymotion. Working from home initially, I set myself realistic deadlines and even learnt a new skill in-between nap times, Book-keeping for Dummies, as I was responsible for a budget of tens of thousands!

Whilst working on the pre-production, Indi-Lee was in nursery two days a week, which freed me up to attend cast and crew meetings. This was gradually moved up to four days a week once filming began and I was able to work as 1st AD on set and still manage to get back in time to pick up Indi-Lee from nursery.

If a small independent company can work like this, why aren’t the major companies following suit? Wouldn’t it be great for more companies to work this way in order to keep the media parents in the industry? Many friends have had to change careers due to the long demanding hours TV requires, but I am really grateful to have found such a great and understanding employer.

If more companies were flexible and willing to assist people back into the work place based on their strengths and knowledge, taking into account their circumstances, it could be a win-win situation.  I would still get to do the job I love; I would deliver whatever was necessary with only difference being I wouldn’t need to do work mental hours sat at my desk!

March 13, 2015 @ 3:11 pm Posted in News Comments Off

5 minutes with Ali McBride SP and Back to Work Mum

by Amy Walker

18 months ago I gained a place on the Media Parent’s ‘Back to Work Scheme’ and was asked to describe how I felt about jumping back into the whirlwind world of TV, writes Ali McBride. As my daughter Matilda reached the impressive age of 8 months, I wrote these words… ‘Bewildered, daunted, excited, pressured and engaged’.

Ali McBride, Harriet Wallace, Kirsty Smith and Sidra Khan, media parents delegates waiting for Kevin Spacey's MacTaggart Speech at GEITF 2013: ‘Bewildered, daunted, excited, pressured and engaged’.

18 months later when asked to write how I feel about being a full-time working mum the exact same words spring to mind… ‘Bewildered, daunted, excited, pressured and engaged’.  The difference now is that the ball of fear has gone from the pit of my stomach. Yes I’ve become the master of plate spinning, yes I yearn for the nights out I once took for granted and yes I wish there were more hours in every day but, on the flip side, after the initial gut wrenching tears at the nursery gate both mum and daughter are right into the swing of balancing work, rest (okay that’s a joke) and play.

The final sign off : Ali McBride at the BBC, where she has just landed another contract!

My biggest critic

To ease myself back into the world of work I ventured into Edit Producing. Like many parents are now finding it seems to be one of the few jobs where you can manage the demands of work and home life with the stability it brings. But, as soon as I accepted that my daughter was flourishing in the company of others (devastating for any new mum to learn that other people actually have the ability to look after your first born as well as you!) I realised I wanted to get back to Series Producing to see if I could manage spinning a few more plates. So for the last 5 months, on Call The Council, made in house for BBC Salford,  I’ve juggled 2 crews, 5 offline suites and delivering 15 x 45 daytime programmes for the BBC alongside teething, dressing up as your favourite book character and a few sleepless nights. Dare I say it… I’ve loved it.

So would I recommend going back to work in TV after starting a family…. Yes I would. I know I’m lucky.. supportive hubby and grandparents on tap, but as well as that I feel that there are an increasing number of people who understand that you can make great TV and still leave the office on time(ish). I’d say go for it, set your own boundaries and be safe in the knowledge that whatever work throws at you, you’ll cope because it’s usually more manageable, and less sticky, than anything a two year old chucks your way!

Day off!

Please join for great jobs, networking and events. Our March events will be in Bristol and Manchester. Details will be emailed through the site.

March 2, 2015 @ 9:43 pm Posted in News Comments Off

Bear Grylls calls for more women in adventure at International Womens Day event, East London this Sunday

by Amy Walker

Bear Grylls, internationally acclaimed adventurer and Britain’s Chief Scout, has spoken out in support of women behind the camera in adventure TV, ahead of today’s International Women’s Day Event in East London: “I’ve worked with some incredible women in the world of adventure” said Grylls, “And they have almost invariably shown themselves to be strong, inspiring, and more than capable of matching their male counterparts on location. I would definitely encourage more women to take up careers in adventure filming – it is challenging and life-enriching. Happy International Women’s Day!”

Team Bear Grylls on location: "I would definitely encourage more women to take up careers in adventure filming".

Reel Angels Agency is the first of its kind: an agency specializing in representing female film and tv technical crews writes Reel Angels founder Lulu Elliott. Along with Media Parents Reel Angels is celebrating Women Behind the Camera on 8th March, International Women’s Day, at The Genesis Cinema in East London.  Click HERE for more info.

Media Parents Director and Founder Amy Walker will be chairing a panel on adventure TV at Genesis Cinema on March 8th. The event will start with neworking at 3pm.

When: 8th March, 2015, 3pm to 10pm.

Where: It will be held at Genesis Cinema (93-95 Mile End Road, London E1 4UJ), a beautiful lovingly restored movie theatre originally built in 1912.

Programme ( updated 26-2-15): The event will include an exclusive welcome networking hour in The Grindhouse Café within the foyer of the cinema; followed by a series of Q and As in one of the glamorous screens featuring discussions, from various female crew involved in adventure documentaries (hosted by Media Parents’ Amy Walker), feature films and live television;

Cinematographers Panel; Polly Morgan and Nina Kellgren.

Adventure Panel; Host : Amy Walker, Media Parents founder and Series Producer. Gail Jenkinson – Camera OP (diving with sharks ‘Adrift’, ‘Atlas 4D’, ’Among the Apes’), Georgina Burrell – Camera Op  (Shipwrecked, Bear Grylls ‘The Island’ women’s version), Barbara Nicholls – Camera Op  (‘Tribal Wives’).

Movies Panel; Jennie Paddon – 1st AC (Ex-Machina, Testament of Youth, The Invisible Woman), Jen Annor – Sound Assist (ToY, Edge of Tomorrow), Gracie Donaldson – Grip (‘Byzantium’ and ‘1- Nenokkadine’).

Live TV Panel; Floor Wouters – Camera Op (Champion League Matches, Wimbledon and Asian Games), another Live TV crew TBC

Then around 7pm we shall then go upstairs to the Paragon Bar, to countdown the live launch of the new website, followed by a networking party!

Media Parents Director and Founder Amy Walker will be chairing a panel on adventure TV at Genesis Cinema on March 8th.

Reel Angels has over 100 female freelance crew on our books across the UK. These are the amongst the most highly skilled and sought after women working in the industry from camera, lighting and sound. Our crew include DOPs, Camera Ops, Focus Pullers, Sound Recordists, Boom Ops, Gaffers and Best Boys. They have recently worked across numerous high end television projects such as Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey as well as major movies including ‘Paddington’, ‘Testament of Youth’ and the soon to be released ‘Everest’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

Reel Angels has arrived at a time when there has never been a more opportune time to represent female talent in Film and TV. The Guardian Reports:

Reel Angels has arrived at a time when there has never been a more opportune time to represent female talent in Film and TV. The Guardian Reports:

Leading figures in cinema are calling for steps to improve diversity in the industry as a damning study exposes the severe lack of women at all levels of film production over the past 20 years. Figures seen by the Guardian have revealed that gender disparity is entrenched in the film industry, where more than three-quarters of the crew involved in making 2,000 of the biggest grossing films over the past 20 years have been men.

Francine Raveney, Executive Director of the European Women’s Audiovisual Network, called for “more to be done to tackle the gender divide and under-representation of women within the industry”.

Founder of Reel Angels Lulu Elliot: “Reel Angels simply increases the chances of female crew to be hired for their skills and expertise by being represented. The agency sees them as all too rare talent, it just happens to be that they are women.”

Amy Walker said “Come along on Sunday, there are free drinks and it will be a good laugh. Men, women and children welcome. Hopefully we can pool our knowledge, learn something about, and maybe even improve, our industry. Not bad going for a Sunday.”

Please join for great jobs, networking and events. Our March events will be in Bristol and Manchester. Details will be emailed through the site.

@ 7:42 pm Posted in News Comments Off

Media Parents Back to Work Scheme launches at BVE

by Amy Walker

Congratulations to the Back to Work mums who are embarking on the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme at BVE today. Please follow and tweet us @mediaparents to connect with us at the exhibition and to follow the mums’ progress via mentoring and coaching back into the TV workplace. Go mums! STOP PRESS : Happy to report that Hazel Palmer was offered work by an old contact she bumped into when we were at BVE, and that another of our number has an interview today. Fingers crossed!

Alison Willett, Drama Development Exec

Alison Willett, Drama Development Exec

Drama has always been one of my passions:  theatre, television, film.   Watching and making. And then came my children!  Three whirlwinds who rushed into my life and turned it upside down.  When my first two were born I returned to the world of television drama pretty sharpish.  The professional and personal co-habited fairly harmoniously and I loved the contrast and inspiration that each world brought me.  However when my third little girl came along the logistics of being a working mother became that much trickier and I decided to take a career break.

Fifteen years earlier, my first foray into television was in the world of arts documentaries, where I worked on the BBC’sArena strand for a number of brilliant years.  When an opportunity arose in the BBC’s Fictionlab – a satellite operating within the drama department – I seized the chance and made my move.   It was fantastic training on the job.  I produced the BBC’s first live drama for over twenty years and immersed myself in the world of small budget/big ambition pieces.  After the birth of my first daughter I spread my wings to gain experience in the independent sector.  Working as a script editor and a development producer I managed and generated a bold and diverse slate of programmes, working with writers who inspire and ideas that excite.

This is the area that I would like to return to.   My aim now is to find a position that allows me to balance my home and professional life.  The Back to Work Scheme run by Media Parents offers a unique opportunity to face up to the challenges that a three year break inevitably brings and tackle them head on. The ideas are flowing, I’m ready to return to the coalface and can’t wait to get stuck in!

Ann Hawker, Development/Casting Producer, AP, PD

Ann Hawker, looking for work as a casting or development producer on her way back in

I have fifteen years experience of television production and I am really keen to put this back to use after a sizeable career break.  In the past I have worked as a producer director, for BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 on a range of top end documentaries and drama documentaries.

As a director I was known for my visual flair and sensitive handling of difficult  subjects.  My past credits include high profile  observational documentaries for ITV about bullying, IVF, and the first UK children’s fat camp as well as a Cutting Edge for Channel 4.   I have made historical and drama documentaries, including a history of polio and biographies of Catherine Cookson and Princess Margaret for Channel Four.  I have also scripted drama documentaries and written for Radio Four drama.

I took nine years out of television.   First because of my young children, then I invested in new skills. I completed  an M.A. in screenwriting, a postgraduate course in photography, and I now lecture in documentary practice to undergraduate students.

I would love to return to the creative world of television, and put all of my experience back to use. I am keen to work in either development or programme production at AP or producer level. I’m also developing my own ideas and would like to build relationships with production companies who might be interested in housing them. I’m really excited by the prospect of getting back into the cut and thrust of the television world and can’t wait to get started.

Diana Hinshelwood, Producer, Children’s

Diana Hinshelwood, Children's TV Producer

I  was a BBC CBeebies TV and Radio Producer, and took voluntary redundancy to go freelance in 2008 as a result of the department’s move to Salford. Initially, I had a 3 month contract to write and produce “Lazytown” for Cbeebies Radio.

I subsequently formed a production company with two colleagues, and we won an option deal from HIT Entertainment.  We developed that from 2009 to 2011.  In 2012, I re-applied for Cbeebies, and wasn’t short listed for interview.  I was told that technology had moved on, and as I hadn’t been in a studio for 5 years, I didn’t have the relevant skills.

I have found work, but not as a TV producer.  I’ve done script writing, development, and three radio shows.  I’ve also worked for Espresso Education, an on-line educational resource for schools.  I am a true 360 producer and am currently developing ideas. I hope to use the course to get back into an industry which I love.

Elli Josephs, Music Producer, Edit Producer

Elli Josephs, Music / Edit Producer.

I am the mother of two lovely girls, but rewind nearly eight years and I was a busy and experienced Producer specialising primarily in entertainment and factual entertainment.

It all began in 1995 at the then MTV Europe, where I worked my way up from Executive Assistant and Music (celeb) Booker through the ranks of Production to Producer/Director.

After ten years and invaluable experience in everything from studio directing, red carpet producing, working on large scale live events and producing a daily entertainment news show in the hallowed halls of MTV, I decided it was time to become my own boss and go freelance, so I joined Endemol on a contract in 2006 as Producer and by the end of my contract was re-credited as Series Producer. By then I was pregnant with my first child  who was born in early 2007 and the second followed with indecent haste 17 months later, so getting back to work at the time was both physically and financially unsustainable.

Its time to go back; I miss the pace, creativity, drive and the interesting and varied people you meet and work with in television. I am open to looking at new opportunities in the world of television, both creative production and areas such as production and talent management.

Ginny Bing, Factual Producer Director

Ginny Bing, far right, at the Media Parents Summer Party.

I spent many exciting and fulfilling years working as a Producer and Director on a whole range of factual entertainment, features and documentary programmes for the BBC and a range of indies.

My next challenge was combining working in TV with having children. In the early days I did some development work for Liverpool Street Productions – who I had worked for before.  Then I produced a one-hour documentary for Five’s ‘History Revealed’ strand: ’Secret D-Day Disaster: Revealed’.  Liverpool Street Productions enabled me to work from home during much of the production period which worked really well.  Since then I’ve had contracts on ‘Come Dine With Me’ at ITV and worked as a PD for Pioneer on ‘Extreme Homes’ for HGTV.  This involved sporadic directing work abroad and in the UK as and when it fitted in with their production schedule over two years, but I’ve never wholly managed to get my career back on track.

I would welcome advice on how best to move forward from here and am really looking forward to the opportunities that the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme can provide.

Graciela Watson, PD / Edit Producer

Graciela Watson, shooting PD / edit producer

Like many professional women who took a career break to have children, I have found going back to work a daunting but exciting prospect. The first three years of motherhood were a blur for me, and it has taken me 6 years for me to rebuild my confidence. I currently shoot and edit my own short corporate films but I would love to get back to the primetime shows I worked on previously.

My plan to re-launch my TV career has involved setting up meeting with lots of old connections, attending work shops for CV writing as well as interview techniques, attending networking events, and applying for courses relating to new technology used in the industry.

Hazel Palmer, Camera Operator turning DV Director

Hazel Palmer, Camera Operator turning DV Director

I have juggled being a single parent with work in TV and video production since I graduated in 2000. I began as a Camera Trainee on dramas but could not take up further job offers in that genre due to childcare issues. As such the majority of my work since has been as a freelancer on a day-to-day basis. I’ve worked as Camera Operator for network TV, multi-camera live events (music, sports, theatre, corporates), single ENG camera for news and ‘behind-the-scenes’ footage, as well as being Director of Photography on several short films and videos. My daughter is now grown up so I am keen to regain some lost threads and return to a full-time career now that I have the time and flexibility to commit 100%.

I would love to make documentaries, so with the rise of Shooting PD roles this is the direction I would like to take now. I am confident in my abilities and commitment to a career in television but would like to gain more confidence in my knowledge and experience through some ‘front-line’ practice. I have gained a variety of skills over the years – multi-camera directing, editing, lighting, sound design, interviewing, storyboarding and organizing shoots. I believe I can make beautiful and original pieces of work. I have many ideas for documentaries and have started work on one by myself that would benefit from further development.

In my efforts to gain full time TV work I’ve found that despite my skills and experience I don’t have the necessary prime time broadcast credits to qualify for roles that I’m interested in. I have applied for several trainee positions only to be told that I am overqualified. I am an experienced cameraman with great understanding and care for all other areas of production and a desire to make good quality TV with interesting and engaging stories. With some guidance I am sure I could be a worthy candidate, and I see this scheme as ideal for me at this time.

Melody Bridges, Writer

Melody Bridges, Writer

Although I have worked extensively in factual, undertaking my film degree in New York (2009-10) was the start of moving from factual to drama. I’ve been writing plays for the past 4 years – all the time that my son has been small. I’m lucky enough to have had several plays performed and won an award too. Specifically for my writing I have been mentored by Rikki Beadle-Blair (Team Angelica) and New Writing South. Further advice mentoring, and support is needed to get me into a paid work position in television or film.

Please join for great jobs, networking and events. Our March events will be in Bristol and Manchester. Details will be emailed through the site.

February 24, 2015 @ 9:22 am Posted in News Comments Off

Media Parents Tech Catch Up Photos

by Amy Walker

Huge thanks to tech guru Alain Loliot and the ProMotion Hire team for Thursday’s tech catch up – it was a great opportunity for freelancers and Rare Day, Lime Pictures, Dragonfly, Remedy Productions, Jellyfish TV, Attaboy Productions, Riverdog Productions, Channel 5 and of course Media Parents, to get up close and PXW FS7 with some kit.

Promotion Hire's Alain Lolliot talks to freelancers at the Tech Catch Up also attended by Rare Day, Lime Pictures, Dragonfly, Remedy Productions, Jellyfish TV, Attaboy Productions, Riverdog Productions, Channel 5 and of course Media Parents.

ProMotion Hire's Caroline Bingham with Attaboy Productions staff.

Alain made short work of the Arri Amira, Sony FS7 and Sony PXW X70.

Production Executive Matt Bailey from Lime Pictures in the middle of a rapt audience.

Alain gets his kit on.

Rare Day MD Emily Renshaw-Smith, Remedy Productions' Claire Northcott, and Plastic Pictures' Ruth Oates listening to Alain Lolliot's kit expertise.

"Really helpful to have a talk-through of the cameras, especially in an informal and friendly environment. The gadgets being shown like the Genie hyperlapse gimble were a great idea - always good to know that facilities have these on offer. And OMG a waterproof LED Light Panel, rewind Christmas please….!" Matt Currington, shooting PD.

Thanks to everyone who made this such a good and useful event. Our March events will be in Bristol and Manchester – watch this space.

Please join for great jobs, networking and events. Our March events will be in Bristol and Manchester. Details will be emailed through the site.

February 23, 2015 @ 10:18 pm Posted in News Comments Off

Media Parents Tech Catch Up on February 19th

by Amy Walker

TICKETS NOW NOT RESTRICTED TO MEMBERS : Back by popular demand, Media Parents is teaming up with the team at Pro Motion Hire once again for a Technical Catch Up, presented by the Head of Production’s secret weapon Alain Lolliot! Join MDs, Heads of Production, Production Execs and Production Managers from across the industry, including Shine Television, Rare Day, ITV, Remedy Productions, Sunset + Vine, Lime Pictures, Channel 5, Just So Television, Dragonfly,  Maverick, Voltage TV, CNBC, Riverdog TV, Attaboy TV, Sting Media and Media Parents’ very own Head of Production David Postlethwaite.

Reasons to be cheerful… Pro Motion Hire's tech guru Alain Lolliot will be sharing his capacious knowledge of all things kit at this FREE February event for Media Parents members.

If you want to catch up on technical developments from 2014 please reserve your place here by clicking here : TICKETS HERE We refund deposits on arrival at the event for tickets bought from now on, whether you are a member or not.

There will be networking opportunities, as well as a chance to get hands on with the industry’s current ‘most popular’ line up of Sony cameras, the Arri Amira and the lovely Alain to answer your questions. Plus we’ll have the low down on new support kit that you need to know exists!!

The event starts at 4pm in Vauxhall and runs until 6pm after which there will be open questions and networking. Alain is waiting, come and get him…

Alain Lolliot, Pro Motion Hire's technical guru.

Alain Lolliot, Technical Director

In 2006, after qualifying and working as a sound engineer in South Africa for a few years, Alain decided to expand his horizons and moved to the UK.  He joined Pro Motion Hire only a year after its founding and has been instrumental in the company’s growth and development.

Alain now holds the title of Technical Director at Pro Motion and aside from being responsible for the day to day job of managing the technical staff and all the equipment, he is also in charge of all client training, demos and events. Alain is widely respected in the industry for his in-depth equipment knowledge and his skilled technical ability.

Please join for great jobs, networking and events. Our next event will be a Production event on Feb 19th

February 5, 2015 @ 12:02 am Posted in News Comments Off

5 minutes with Emily Hughes Shooting PD

by Amy Walker

So I’ve always thought that having a baby means the end of your TV career – how many mums have you met in production? I don’t think I’ve ever met one writes Bristol-based Emily Hughes.

Emily Hughes, shooting PD with her son Ben on location.

So when I had my son Ben last summer I thought it was time to put my feet up and to settle into being a mummy. But I couldn’t have been more wrong – in fact I’ve just finished my film, ‘Somerset: After the Floods’ for BBC 2. I think it’s the project I’m most proud of  in my career so far – because I made it whilst being a mother too.

It was all down to a flexible employer – BBC NI, understanding execs Sam Collyns and Simon Ford, and the devoted support of grandmothers Sophie and Pat. I went back to work when Ben was 9 months old for 2 days per week. The project seemed a perfect fit for part time work – a documentary following the villagers of Somerset for a year as they recovered from the devastating flooding of 2014.

At the beginning Ben was still pretty quiet if he stayed in the sling – and he even came down to Somerset filming with me a few times! I think that having a little baby helped – I found that my relationships with contributors became stronger, and being a mother seemed to make me less of a daunting TV person.

iPlayer link :

Working with a baby presented a whole world of new challenges – making calls to press officers and agencies during precious nap time – or pacing around the garden with a baby in a sling while I convinced people to take part, hoping he wouldn’t pipe up at the crucial ‘yes’ or ‘no’ moment.  Work definitely didn’t fit into the neat 2 days we planned – but it meant that I had 2 days on location – then the rest of the week to think, prepare and make calls, which is a rare luxury in television. Deciding which story lines merited the 1 ¼ hr drive down to Somerset on a precious ‘work’ day was hard – and it became increasingly clear that we needed to find an excellent shooting AP to cover the days I couldn’t be there. I simply couldn’t cover an observational documentary alone.  Luckily we found a brilliant Shooting Director, Rebecca Rowles, and the team was complete.

Traditional childcare really wasn’t an option as I could never know which days I’d need to film (the turbulent life of flood victims didn’t fit neatly into fixed days), and added to the mix was my husband’s job – a Naval officer – which meant he was either away at sea or working away from home during the week – so couldn’t have helped with nursery pick ups or bedtime. I will be forever indebted to our two grandmothers and wonderful friends who helped out when as story I just had to film cropped up. Poor Ben was deposited many times while I flew down the M5 to catch a story – luckily he was a very genial baby.

As it was a BBC Northern Ireland production we had to go to Belfast for the 2-month edit. It sounds like a massive upheaval – but babies are very portable, and it was as easy for my husband to come to Northern Ireland as the Forest of Dean (where we live) if he had any leave. So we bundled up our lives into the car (baby, granny, cots, push chairs etc etc) and got on the ferry.

It was great to get stuck into full time work in the edit, and I thoroughly enjoyed working with my editor David Howell. We worked very hard 9-5, which meant I could be home for bedtime most nights. In many ways the edit was more straightforward than filming – Ben went to a child minder in the mornings and his granny in the afternoons – so life settled into more of a routine. The biggest challenge was finding out I was pregnant again – accompanied by very severe morning sickness! I had to go to hospital once, and it was pretty grim. I’d script write in the moments between bouts of nausea – which was quite a challenge!  Luckily I had a great editor, and very supportive production team.

We are all delighted with the final film – and the contributors love it, which I always feel is the greatest achievement of all. Most of all its given me the confidence to know that I’m just as good at my job as I was before I had children – so long as you find the right project, and employers are open to flexible working.

Please join for great jobs, networking and events. Our next event will be a Production event on Feb 19th, email us for details.

January 31, 2015 @ 8:30 pm Posted in News Comments Off

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

“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.

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

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. Simon is an award-winning shooting PD and editor.

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