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.

media parents CV tear up photos

by Amy Walker

Thanks to everyone who came along to the Media Parents CV Tear Up, 50 of us had a great night at ENVY, kindly sponsored by Alias Hire. UKTV’s senior commissioner Catherine Catton, Dawn Beresford from Arrow Media and CPL, Peter Grimsdale, DLT’s Michaela Hennessy-Vass, Lucy Eagle from Cactus, Wild Pictures’ Diana Hunter, Esther Johnson from Boundless and Nick Dyne from Fremantle joined the Alias Hire and Media Parents teams to meet freelancers who wanted to improve their CVs, or just make contacts. There is a link to CV tips at the bottom of this article if you want to rework your CV.

Catherine Catton meets Jo Molloy from the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme. Jo has found work at Channel 5.

Boundless HoP Esther Johnson seemed to have an ever-growing queue of freelancers waiting to meet her.

Wild Pictures HoP Diana Hunter meets Kate Boddington from the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme.

Cactus Head of Production Lucy Eagle, and Media Parents' Amy Walker meet freelancers.

Ex-commissioner Peter Grimsdale was on hand to offer scripted and factual advice.

Former commissioner Michaela Hennessy-Vass met freelancers for DLT Media.

Midnight Oil's Producer Ros Attille and MD Gillane Seaborne.

Alias Hire's MD Danny Dawson nailed the elevator pitch on cameras.

Nick Dyne met freelancers on behalf of Fremantle Media.

Arrow Media and CPL Talent Exec Dawn Beresford called for more CVs before she left. There was a light stampede.

With thanks to The Alias Hire Team



Please join for great jobs, networking and events. Please SAVE THE DATE May 20th for our next event and keep an eye on site emails.

April 29, 2015 @ 11:42 pm Posted in News Comments Off

media parents april CV tear up guestlist

by Amy Walker

On Tuesday April 28th Media Parents is hosting a CV Tear Up, kindly sponsored by Alias Hire. Senior Commissioning Editor Catherine Catton is joined by a host of Execs and HoPs from various indies to meet freelancers, and MD Danny Dawson and Natalie Brady, Head of Training at Alias Hire, will be talking about their new PM course and kit.

Catherine Catton, Senior Commissioning Editor, UKTV

UKTV's Catherine Catton

With over ten years’ experience in TV, including brand development, running channels and commissioning, Catherine is currently Senior Commissioning Editor at UKTV. We are also delighted that Catherine is a mentor on the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme.

In this role, she has been responsible for breakout hits across the UKTV network including returning formats such as Storage Hunters UK, David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities, My Flatpack Home and Nick Knowles’ Original Features as well as food series such as The Roux Scholarship, Choccywoccydoodah and Hairy Bikers’ Mississippi Adventure.

Catherine has also commissioned a number of films for Yesterday focusing on the 1940s and 1960s, including WAGs of ’66, Cilla’s Unswung Sixties, and the award-winning Arctic Convoys.  In addition, she has commissioned a number of Advertiser Funded Programmes including two series of Find My Past, winner of a Broadcast Digital Award and the UK’s first Factual product placement deal.

Peter Grimsdale, Exec Producer & Writer, Scripted & Factual

Peter Grimsdale, Executive Producer

Peter Grimsdale is a novelist, screenwriter and TV producer.  A former commissioner at BBC TV, Channel 4 and Five, he has worked in all the genres and his credits range from Big Brother to Crimewatch. He won an RTS Best Strand award for C4’s Witness strand.  Subsequently, his work as a freelance Executive Producer has appeared on all the main UK stations as well as the History Channel, NatGeo and Discovery in the USA.  He was also co-creator and writer on ITV’s recent medical drama thriller, Breathless. We are delighted that Peter is also a mentor on the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme.

Diana Hunter, Head of Production, Wild Pictures

Diana Hunter, HoP, Wild Pictures

Diana has been working in television for over 20 years, and has worked all over the world with leading independents and broadcasters in the UK, Europe and the US. Originally from Los Angeles, Diana has been based on both sides of the Atlantic.

Following a Fine Arts degree at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania and 3 years at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, Diana fell into production quite accidentally discovering a passion by working on social, political and investigative documentaries for strands - Inside Story, Critical Eye, Everyman and Dispatches. She then donned many caps on a diverse range of productions from arts and natural history programmes, reality, entertainment and magazine formats, features, commercials and across science and technology programming on C4’s Equinox strand and series’ - Time Team and Scrapheap Challenge/Junkyard Wars. She was Head of Productions at Outline Productions for 6 years and now as Head of Production at Wild Pictures, immersed in the factual output of the company.

We are delighted that Diana is also a mentor on the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme.

Michaela Hennessy-Vass, Exec Producer, DLT Entertainment

Michaela Hennessy Vass with Media Parents' Amy Walker and Claire Brown at BAFTA

Award winning production and distribution company DLT Entertainment appointed former ITV Comedy Commissioning Editor Michaela Hennessy-Vass to join its London based development team in 2011. We are delighted that Michaela is also mentoring on the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme.

Michaela has extensive and award-winning experience in comedy, drama and more recently children’s programming, which she brings to DLT as she develops new projects for the UK and US based company. Michaela also meets talent for DLT’s factual output.

Throughout her twenty years at ITV (the last eight of which were on the commissioning team), Michaela worked across an impressive roster of programming becoming Comedy Commissioning Editor in 2007 responsible for top rating programmes such as Benidorm, Ladies of Letters and Bad Mother’s Handbook. In 2010 she left ITV to work as Development Consultant with Leopardrama. She produced a 26 part, international co-production live action children’s comedy for Talent Television, for transmission on ITV.

Esther Johnson, Head of Production, Boundless

Esther Johnson, HoP, Boundless

Head of Production for Boundless, Esther has overall production management responsibility across all factual titles – from Daytime Factual: Escape to the Country and Great British Railway Journeys, to Factual Entertainment: The Apprentice and You’re Fired, Features: Grand Designs, and Specialist Factual: Four Rooms.

She joined the company in May 2008, initially as Head of Production for Factual Features at talkbackTHAMES, which included responsibility for the regional production base in Amersham.

Prior to this, Esther was at the BBC, working initially as a Programme Finance Manager and Senior Genre Business Affairs Manager in Factual Commissioning and then as Production Executive working across the BBC’s in-house production activity in Science & History key titles during this time included Horizon, Timewatch, Supervolcano, Industrial Wonders of the World and Jimmy’s Farm).

Esther started her career at the British Film Institute working in research and TV production.

Lucy Eagle, Head of Production, Cactus TV

Lucy Eagle, HoP, Cactus TV

Lucy joined Cactus in January 2015 as Head of Production. Her many years as a freelance Production Manager/Line Producer and most recently Production Executive have given her a wealth of experience across many genres including food series, reality TV, shiny floor shows and a brief foray into sport – making programmes for broadcasters in the UK, America and India. Lucy is across all of the Cactus output.

Gillane Seaborne, Exec Producer, Midnight Oil Productions

Gillane Seaborne, Midnight Oil

Gillane has worked in TV for over 20 years. Specialising in factual entertainment, travel, lifestyle and children’s programming, she’s made shows for all the major networks in the UK and the US. She’s also produced live studio shows, an animated series and run a BBC Learning competition. We are also delighted that Midnight Oil are supporting the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme.

Ros Attille, Producer, Midnight Oil Productions

Ros Attille, Midnight Oil

Ros has worked in television for over twenty years, specializing in studio based live and pre-recorded shows, quiz and game shows and children’s programmes. She has written and produced for a variety of broadcasters and indies, including the BBC, ITV, Disney Junior, Sky, STV, GMTV, Ragdoll, Archie and Lucky Day Productions She has developed, scripted and produced for many iconic children’s brands, including Teletubbies, Rosie and Jim, Totally Doctor Who and Art Attack. During a five year stint at the BBC she produced shows for both CBBC and CBeebies, including Tikkabilla, The Story Makers, CBBC Presentation and Xchange. Ros also specialises in studio quiz shows having produced and devised the format of C5’s Wordplay, revamped and reinvented STV’s Postcode Challenge, and established the format of Sky TV’s The Loop.

Dawn Beresford, Talent Exec, Arrow Media & CPL Productions

Dawn Beresford, Talent Exec

As Talent Executive at Arrow Media and CPL Productions Dawn is responsible for helping grow the companies’ output and scouring the industry for the top production talent.

Prior to this Dawn spent over 3 years as the Creative Executive at Shine TV where she initiated, designed and managed Shine TV’s graduate trainee programme; managed cross genre development for the Factual, Features and Entertainment departments and Exec Produced a series for T4 funded by the Department of Education. As Genre Executive for BBC TVs Factual Commissioning Department, she was an integral member of the team that brought the best in-house and independent sector ideas to the Channel Controllers and Exec Produced ‘Africa Kicks’, a season of documentaries for BBC 3.

Dawn began her career in broadcasting in the BBC’s Youth and Entertainment Features Department working on shows from Rough Guide to the World, to Reportage, to The Sunday Show. She went on to Produce and Direct a number of shows including Desperately Seeking Stardom and to Series Produce Lonely Planet.

Viki Carter, Head of Production, Riverdog

Viki Carter, HoP, Riverdog

Riverdog is a UK-based independent television production company making documentaries as well as factual and factual entertainment formats. The team has been responsible for some of the most popular and successful programmes on TV and we aim to originate and produce the next generation of hit shows for audiences at home and abroad.

A production manager / HoP with over 7 years experience across a range of factual and entertainment programming, Viki is accomplished at managing complex shoots and edits varying from single self shooters to multi camera location and studio shoots with multiple VT and programme edits running concurrently. A proactive problem solver who works collaboratively with the editorial team to ensure the best show possible while of course keeping a firm hand on the budget.

Nick Dyne, Office Manager, Fremantle Media

Nick Dyne, Fremantle Media

Nick joined TalkbackThames in June 2007 and worked his way up to become Office Manager in 2012. Responsible for interviewing and employing office runners and helping them make the next steps into production running, by giving them advice, support and making sure they are making contacts with all of Fremantle’s Productions, and ensuring they have a general understanding of our business. As Office Manager Nick is responsible for the smooth running of the building and ensuring that each of our productions have everything they need to make their shows.

Nick will be passing CVs back to Fremantle from freelancers at the event, and is also about to take his first steps into the freelance world.

Danny Dawson, MD, Alias Hire

Danny Dawson, Alias Hire

Danny Dawson is the Managing Director of Alias Hire, having originally joined in 2009 as Hire Manager. In the time, Danny has been influential in repurposing Alias Hire into one of the industry’s premier video facility companies. Prior to Alias Hire Danny was a production professional operating for 8 x years as a Researcher, Shooting AP and PD on varying titles and formats including live transmission “City Hospital” BBC1, “Who Do You Think You Are?” BBC1, as well as corporate production. Danny entered into the broadcast industry in 1999 first for Hammerhead TV and then to Metro Broadcast where he joined as a runner to running the hire desk within three years.

Danny was elevated to Managing Director in October 2014 and is committed to focusing Alias Hire into exploring new areas of broadcast services, including bespoke training, aerial video and IP Streaming.

Natalie Brady, Head of Training, Alias Hire

Natalie Brady, Alias Hire

Natalie Brady has been working in the media industry for over 20 years. Starting as an assistant at the BBFC in Soho Square. After taking time out to have children she went back to work as a casting agent and in 2005 she joined a training company as a coordinator for Soho Editors.

Since then she has gone from strength to strength helping companies and freelancers get high end training while also securing lots of funding from Creative Skillset to help make training more affordable for everyone. Natalie has facilitated Alias Hire’s training programme (as well as running the office and on most days the company).

Mark Wilson, Hire Manager, Alias Hire

Mark Wilson, Alias Hire

Mark has worked in various areas of the Media industry for 7 years. Graduating from Edge Hill University in 2007 with a degree in Film Studies with Film and Television Production he spent 2 years as a presenter on live radio before moving to London to pursue his goal of being part of the Film and TV World.

Working for Alias Hire has given Mark a fantastic insight into the world of media, liaising with both production and post production clients, building relationships and learning about all of the equipment that goes into creating a show or film. Mark manages a team of booking co-coordinators, technicians and drivers to help deliver and fulfill clients needs and wishes.

He has  a love of art and film, and is often found doing story-boarding and pre-production design in his spare time for friends and colleagues with his creative personality and a love for storytelling. Mark also has a passion for performance, starring in and being the face for Alias’ online videos.

Amy Walker, Director, Media Parents

Amy Walker, with the Back to Work Scheme winners, centre, red specs.

In addition to running Media Parents Amy Walker works as a series producer and talent exec. She has produced factual programmes for all the major UK broadcasters and a few US ones, filming on location across five continents. She is currently very pleased to have produced a series that’s just been nominated for a Scottish RTS award. Amy has seen about a million CVs over the course of her varied career, and is delighted to be able to meet so many talented people in TV through Media Parents.

Please join for great jobs, networking and events. Our next event will be in London on April 28th.

April 27, 2015 @ 5:59 pm Posted in News Comments Off

5 minutes with Graciela Watson, PD & Back to Work Mum

by Amy Walker

You know what its like when you apply yourself to something and it takes off?  Its like watching a snowball roll down the hill, just getting bigger and bigger.  Well that is what I feel the start of this year has been like writes PD and Back to Work Mum Graciela Watson.

Diana Hinshelwood (2nd from left) and the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme Winners at BVE.

BVE15 in February was the launchpad for Media Parents Back To Work Scheme.  This was an inspiring event for many reasons. There was BVE15 itself - a huge industry event which has all the technology you expect from brand new cameras to new sound recording equipment, flexible lighting kits to editing platforms and impossible to miss were number of Drone cameras flying around.

The advancements made technologically are impressive enough but even more interesting for me was the amazing amount of free seminars.  Anything from tutorials on FCPro X to lighting for 4K and panel discussions, such as  “Pros and cons of self shooting – are we suffering its limitations or benefitting from flexibility and cost savings?”  It was hard work trying to fit in as much as possible but the result of attending BVE15 all three days was that I felt much more up to speed about the industry and more passionate than ever to start making programmes again.

One of the most useful seminars I attended was “How to market yourself on Social Media” by Samantha Baines (Penguin In the Room).  First we had a crash course in twitter use from Media Parents, then we headed straight to hear Samantha. It goes without saying that if you work in media you should have a public profile.  Any potential employer has to be able to find you by simply typing your name into a search engine.  Samantha advocates seeing yourself as a product, taking regular photos of yourself and keeping your profile up to date at all times. Simple, but good advice. Her other tip was to imagine your face on a billboard next to anything you tweet…

Richard Ayoade hosted a session which looked at how to write and pitch comedy ideas which gave a real insight into his personal experiences in TV. At the other end there were talks about  the future of tv involving interactive apps the audience downloads before the show airs giving them more control over content.  This has actually already started happening!

Also and by no means second, I got to meet the other women who have been lucky enough to make it onto the current Back to Work Scheme. It’s always difficult going back to work, whether you’ve been out for a few months or a few years (I’m in that last category) but what’s really reassuring are meeting others who are all in the same place.  It gives you a chance to come together and breath a sigh of relief – “Phew!  It’s not just me – I’m not alone! These women have amazing credits too – we are all going to make it together!”

There are 8 of us on the current scheme and once we’d actually found each other in the vast arena of London’s Excel centre, we immediately started swapping stories, talking through our fears and expectations for the year ahead.  It sounds corny, but it was beautiful to meet up with women who are all embarking on the same journey as myself. Watch out for us breaking back!

Since writing this article Graciela Watson has landed a job at the BBC through For more details of the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme please email

Please join for great jobs, networking and events. Our next event will be in London on April 28th.

April 23, 2015 @ 12:54 pm Posted in News Comments Off

Guardian CSO summit special offer for Media Parents members

by Amy Walker

Chief Strategy Officer Summit

The Chief Strategy Officer Summit returns to London on 30 April & 1 May, bringing together thought leaders from the world’s most respected companies, creating an open forum for strategy discussion.
Through our partnership with Innovation Enterprise, you can save 20% on any two-day pass to this executive-led conference with the code ‘MP20’.
Confirmed speakers for the 2015 agenda include:
- Head of Strategy, Shell
- Chief Officer, Business Strategy, Visa
- Head of Strategy, Google
- Vice President, Strategy, Orange
- Head of Innovation, HSBC
& many more…
Wondering what to expect? Check out this presentation from Anton Kotov, Director of Corporate Strategy & Development at Schneider Electric, on ‘Corporate Strategy – From Formulation to Execution’.
If you are interested in attending, or for more information, please reach out to Emma Pawlowski at (+44 207 193 1673). Alternatively, you can confirm your place here quoting the discount code ‘MP20’.
We look forward to seeing you there!

@ 11:58 am Posted in News Comments Off

5 minutes with Diana Hinshelwood Children’s TV Producer

by Amy Walker

I’m thrilled to have won a place on the Media Parent’s Back To Work scheme, writes Children’s TV Producer Diana Hinshelwood.  It’s a great opportunity, being mentored by BBC Children’s Exec Ninder Billing, and also workshadowing producers at another company that works with Media Parents – fingers crossed!

Diana Hinshelwood (3rd from left) and the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme Winners at BVE.

As was BVE ‘15 for the scheme’s launch.  Keeping up with new broadcast technology is a must, and it’s all here at BVE in an impressive array of cameras, editing systems and gadgetry.  Wow!  Just Wow!  While BVE showcases new technology, new content is important too, and I’ve never stopped developing programme ideas.

I’ve won two radio commissions, and, with two ex BBC colleagues, an option agreement for a children’s TV animation.  After developing characters, creating storylines and producing a bible and animatic, we went to sunny Cannes for MIPJnr to pitch our idea. The only way to learn the skill of pitching is to actually do it.  And of course, you need people to pitch to, so our first task was to line up meetings beforehand. Through existing contacts, I arranged meetings with Cookie Jar, Nelvana, Cake and Nine Story amongst others, making notes on all of them.

Diana Hinshelwood at Hong Kong Filmart.

We practised our pitch to each other, which sounded great in the hotel room but when the time came for real, nerves kicked in and my mouth felt dry.  However, everyone was friendly and I realised that the delegates are there to find new shows so we weren’t imposing. It helped to overcome any nerves.

We had an amazing time in Cannes, and we came away with a number of co-production offers, not to mention a meeting on a boat and a reception at the famous Carlton Hotel.  The only sticky moment was when one delegate viewed the animatic in scowly silence. I was about make apologies and leave when he suddenly announced “You’ve got a very original idea here.”   Oh my!  From despair to elation in a moment. Cannes was a valuable experience from which I learnt a lot.  No experience is ever wasted and I’ve used my time out to develop ideas and acquire new skills.

As well as development and pitching, I’ve also gained valuable experience in digital production, and I’m mastering Twitter. These, along with my Back To Work place, mean I’m ready for the next step.  Kidscreen, anyone?

April 9, 2015 @ 2:50 pm Posted in News Comments Off

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