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Posts categorised as: Freelancer Profiles

When You Actually Want Your Career to go Sideways… Mark Aldridge

by Amy Walker

Sooo, I just finished my first novel writes Exec / Series Producer Mark Aldridge.

Mark Aldridge, left of frame, at Media Parents CV Event

The small group of friends and trusted colleagues who have read it, really rate it. I hold the 292 pages of manuscript in my hands like it’s a new baby. It’s warm, it’s got a nice smell. It’s not exactly cuddly and adorable but it’s much loved all the same. There’s over nine months of development there and … Yeah, that’s enough of the baby similarities I think. Having finished the obligatory tweaking, proofing and editing, I send it over to my agent. Warren’s been reading it as we go along, full of his usual encouragement, but I’m looking forward to his opinion on what I consider to be the finished article… But that feedback will have to wait a couple of weeks.

I’m a father of 8-year-old twins and they were front-of-mind when I took a sideways step with my career. Perhaps inevitably, stepping sideways also means taking a hit with your income. I made a deal with my partner, we agreed I could do the book for a limited period of time, in our case a year. I just made it.

Now, it’s all about finding a job back in TV. I’ve had a steady stream of freelance work that’s fitted in around writing the book, but now it’s finished, I need to get back to the day job. So, the next few weeks are all about re-establishing connections and getting myself back on people’s radars as an Exec / SP in Production or Development.

I’m a story-teller. In the end, isn’t all TV about telling a good yarn? So, if anyone’s reading this who’s on the lookout, I’m combining my EP experience with my writing and looking for development roles, as well as broader EP or SP gigs. The storytelling was front and centre when I developed Channel 4’s ‘Utopia’ and I recently put it into action again working with the ‘Simon’s Cat’ team at Endemol Shine. But I’ve also applied storytelling on a wider scale. With ‘Rooftop Rainforest’, we told a compelling tale that ran right through the backbone of Sky TV. We built a living, breathing rainforest, with over a thousand plants and trees, on top of the Westfield shopping centre. The story encompassed Sky’s rainforest charity, gave the CEO an ideal location to address the great and the good and, of course, delivered two hours of high-end documentary to SkyOne.

Mark Aldridge and the Football Tonight team

So, whilst I wait for the response to putting the TV wheels in motion, I thought I’d note down some lessons I’ve learned over the year.

When You Actually Want Your Career to go Sideways…

If you’re considering a sideways step, be prepared to start near the bottom. You may be a hotshot in your established career, but you’re a noob in the other one. Sure, there will be a ton of transferable skills, but you will be competing with those who are already established.

Before you begin, set yourself a timeline for how long you (and family) are prepared to give it. Real change, change for good, change for the better, takes time. And your new career choice will have consequences for those who around you. They will need to be flexible too.

If you give yourself twelve months, like I did, know that you have a great deal of time there for development. If you stay focussed, you are going to be improving dramatically in that time. For me, the important thing was simply to get going. Then it got better. What was really curious was looking back at those early first steps and seeing how my writing had evolved over the year.

There’s another benefit too, this one’s probably the best one, your year of going sideways will certainly put what you did before into perspective. You’ll be able to see all the plus points and identify some of the negatives from your previous job. That can help guide you going forward. Hell, you’ll probably find what you’ve learned over the year supports your original career and that can only be a good thing.

I’ve set up a site, manwithseveralhats.com, that’s me. Two of the hats have gone sideways from TV production. Consultancy is one. Writing is the other.

So, I’ve got three hats right now. That’s enough. Any more and I’d be spread too thinly. As I say on the website, I’d be a very skinny hat, I’d be a Beret.

www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/4258/mark-aldridge

Click image to join Media Parents www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, training and events.

October 29, 2018 @ 9:34 am Posted in Freelancer Profiles, How To Leave a comment

Back to Work as a HETV Drama Coordinator by Zenna Barry

by Amy Walker

I’d had a 10 year break from TV writes Coordinator Zenna Barry. I’d worked in factual as a Coordinator but I’d always loved drama and originally wanted to work in film – so after an ex-colleague told me about the Media Parents website, I found that they were looking for coordinators on a ‘HETV Drama Back To Work Scheme’ funded by ScreenSkills which sounded perfect for me.

Zenna Barry was on placement on Tiger Aspect's drama Curfew with Sean Bean

I’d never worked in drama production before and I was advised to get some work experience before applying, which I did. Michaela Eccleston, Head of Production at Red Productions was then kind enough to become my mentor, and throughout the scheme she has been on the end of a text or call whenever I’ve needed guidance and encouragement.  We’ve also had face-to-face meetings at her offices which have really helped me understand drama production and carve out my plan for the future.

Mentor Michaela Eccleston, Red Productions' HOP with mentee Zenna Barry (right)

The scheme kicked off at the end of Feb, with CV and interview training and networking events in London that would re-align my mindset.  Media Parents then set up a 4 week placement on ‘Curfew’ for me – a high end TV drama being shot at Space Studios for Tiger Aspect.  The placement went well – even though it felt quite daunting to be back in the production office again.  But my mind was focussed on learning and so I just got stuck in.  Everyone looked so young and had already been working on the show for a few months and - I’m not going to lie to you – it was a challenging time, juggling childcare and new learning in a genre I haven’t worked in before – but I stayed cheerful throughout and made the most of my time there with the team – who were great with me:)

Zenna Barry with the production team on Tiger Aspect's Curfew

After the placement, reality hit home - it was now time to get a real job!!!  In my past I had been a Coordinator/ PM mainly in factuals and live programming.  But because I didn’t want to take this route again and with the large gap in my CV, my mentor advised me that I would have to go backwards before I could go forwards.  This was sound advice as I felt that I really needed to understand the drama processes before I took on any kind of role of responsibility.

On location for a Curfew night shoot

Media Parents contacted me and suggested I applied for a free Line Producers course run by Addie Orfila for the Indie Training Fund, also funded by ScreenSkills.  What a great week in Media City – with seven other aspiring LPs, learning all about how to PM and Line Producer in drama, it really helped with my knowledge gap.  I made some great contacts on the course which led to two weeks’ work on a children’s drama for the BBC – ‘The 4 O’Clock Club’.  Again a lovely production team – learning on the job, locally filmed, enjoying the catering (!) and loving being back in production!

Line Producer training at Media City

Courtesy of the Media Parents jobs page I then managed to secure 6 weeks work as an Assistant Coordinator on a Sky One comedy drama ‘Brassic’.  With a 4-day handover, I was then left coordinating the show whilst the main coordinator was on holiday for 4 weeks! I loved every minute of it, again working with a great team.  It was a tough job though, with long 12 hour days, which was tough on my family, but I was really starting to find my feet now and felt confident putting all that I had learned since the beginning of the year into practice.

ITV then got in touch and wanted me to interview for a Coordinator’s role on Emmerdale.  The commute would be tricky – Manchester to Leeds everyday – but the role sounded ideal, spending much more time down on set and learning directly from the senior PM,  so I decided to go for it.  After the toughest interview of my life (1.5 hours on Skype with a panel of three from ITV) I was delighted to hear that I got the job – a permanent in-house contract for ITV drama – wow!!  I’m so grateful and now well on my way to becoming a PM in drama which was my dream at the beginning of the year!!  Thanks partly to the negotiating skills I honed on the Media Parents HETV Drama Return to Work Programme the contract at ITV can offer me some flexibility and the work/ life balance that I so desperately crave.  To be there for my family in the evenings and at weekends whilst being part of a creative team – I’m so excited at what the future may bring!!

Thank you Media Parents for everything you have done for me this year – I will always be truly grateful for this scheme that helps parents like me get back into the game.

https://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/14984/zenna-barry

Click image to join Media Parents www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, training and events.

@ 9:34 am Posted in Freelancer Profiles, How To Leave a comment

How to work flexibly on location in TV Ali McBride & Kate Walker

by Amy Walker

It’s 5 years ago this month that my maternity bubble was burst and I came back to work, writes Series Producer Ali McBride. I was happy in my baby bubble, but also keen to return to telly, and thanks to Media Parents Back to Work Scheme I was given the confidence to do so with gusto.

Series Producer Ali McBride returned to work via Media Parents and wanted to pay it back https://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/15861/ali-mcbride

Five years in and the plate spinning is working (just) but, sadly it seems, not for everyone. As a consequence I’ve seen many new Mums and Dads flee the industry. So I wanted to see if, in my own small way, I could help other parents find a balance.

When I started working at Crackit North I saw an opportunity. I was Series Producing a new Channel 5 series based at a hospital in Barnsely and we needed to follow the shifts of the staff to capture their working day. To cover certain staff shifts we needed to be flexible with the hours we filmed, so flexible working became an essential part of my hunt for the perfect PD.

Ali McBride and the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme winners waiting for Kevin Spacey's MacTaggart Speech at Ed TV Fest 2013.

I knew of a director looking to return to work after having her first child – Kate Walker - so we discussed the job and she grabbed the offer with both hands. Across three months, Kate and another PD who was also happy with the flexible shifts, followed the staff, gained the trust of the team and filmed some incredible stories.

I know that flexible filming schedules don’t suit every production but I do know that having a flexible PDs team was a real asset to the production. After this experience I’m keen to spread the word that flexible working can work and should be considered more naturally as part of the crewing up process. The challenge now is to see if I can make this role work on my future projects!

https://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/15861/ali-mcbride

Kate Walker

Kate Walker PD : "The prospect of long hours and the physical demands of shooting full time made me question my career which I had always loved" https://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/15868/kate-walker

The idea of returning to work as a Shooting Director with a ten-month-old baby was daunting to say the least – the prospect of long hours and the physical demands of shooting full time made me question my career which I had always loved. When Ali contacted me with the opportunity to work part time with flexible hours it sounded too good to be true.

I gave her a diary of the days I was available and the best times I could work, Ali then married this up with when the key characters we wanted to film were on shift and so I began. I worked on average three days per week over the filming period, which included some evenings and weekends – this worked perfectly for me as no additional childcare was needed and I got to spend more time with my baby. I never felt my relationships with the staff I was filming were compromised as many of them also worked part time and had families.  Ali’s strategic approach to filming meant that my time on location was maximised and I always felt like a valued member of the team. It couldn’t have been a more perfect way to return to work.

https://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/15868/kate-walker

https://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/15861/ali-mcbride

Kate is available from October 15th and Ali is available from November, both for work in Leeds and the North West. Find them on Media Parents.

Casualty 24/7 Wed Channel 5 @ 9pm. Crackit North Productions.

Our next event is a CV clinic on October 17th at Shiver, please see our site emails for details. Click image to join Media Parents www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, training and events.

October 9, 2018 @ 4:44 pm Posted in Freelancer Profiles, How To, TV Returners Leave a comment

a researcher’s guide to Edinburgh TV festival : Melissa Bishop

by Amy Walker

Edinburgh does…Question Time, hosted by the amazing Kirsty Wark. After all these years shouting at the TV from my sofa, I was there, mic in hand and selected to ask the first question, kicking off the whole debate writes Melissa Bishop. As Kirsty says my name and peers at me over her famous reading glasses, all eyes turn in my direction, cameras recording for posterity. I am now very nervous. But I am up in Edinburgh as the Warner Bros returner on the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme.

Question Time Presenter Kirsty Wark with Returning AP / Researcher Melissa Newbury

“As a recent report in Broadcast magazine has shown that the number of women directors in TV have actually fallen in recent years, what do the panel suggest to address this problem?”  Job done, my voice was not too wobbly and I had taken a first little step out of my comfort zone. That’s what I was here for after all.

On the way to the airport at 5.30am on the first day of the Edinburgh TV festival, I’d had 20 minutes to gather my thoughts. This was in fact my first Edinburgh TV Festival – brilliant. I had always meant to go but life gets in the way and somehow I’d never made it. The event is completely jam-packed, there are so many interesting, talented people to meet, I didn’t want to be doing it at anything less than 100% match fitness, so I’d prepared well. However, I was really nervous. Imposter syndrome strikes again.

"I was worried that being out of TV work, as a full-time carer, would been seen as a personal weakness somehow" Melissa Newbury needn't have worried https://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/14397/melissa-bishop

In addition, somewhere in the back of my head I was worried that being out of TV work, as a full-time carer, would been seen as a personal weakness somehow. When I got talking to people, I realised how any people have been in the same situation, or have experienced something similar and are totally understanding. It really isn’t just me.

The MacTaggart Lecture this year was beautifully written and passionately delivered by Michaela Coel, in front of a packed house. A fascinating personal insight into the industry through the eyes of a “misfit” (her words) – culminating in a moving call to arms for all in the industry to address this problem, to get our house in order – “fix this house”.  Her words resonated deeply and the message regarding lack of diversity permeated the rest of the festival.

It’s a great place to make connections, including Expectation Factual Head of Talent Anna Bonnadio, and Anouk Berendsen, Head of Talent at All3Media who kindly agreed to meet with us returners. One thing she said that struck me was “Be honest and open… just ask for what you want, what you need as a parent/carer in TV.”  If we all did this, things would have to change.

Returner Melissa Bishop with Expectation Factual's Anna Bonnadio

The first Media Parents session with Amy Walker flipped a switch in my head. Amy asked us in turn to introduce ourselves, in three clear sentences, name, what we are and what we want to do.…easy, but I couldn’t. I hadn’t thought through how to communicate really basic information about myself to others. So when I was asked to speak, I could only reply ‘but, what am I?’ Basic yes, but very easy to overlook. I realised that in my previous attempts to introduce myself to people whilst networking (not something that comes naturally to me and makes me feel a bit icky – to be perfectly honest), I’d either take so long thinking up my opening lines that they’d left by the time I was ready, or gone up to them and ended up rambling, trying to explain my entire life history to my poor victim. Not a very memorable encounter, or memorable for all the wrong reasons.

So: “Hello I’m Melissa Bishop…I’m a factual Researcher/AP, returning to documentary. Pleased to meet you.”

Try thinking of it as a conversation, Amy advised, when we’re discussing how uncomfortable the power dynamic of networking can make me feel. They are not ‘the boss’ and you are not asking for a job. You’re two peers, exchanging information and ideas. They might actually like talking to you. As someone who has been out of this world for a few years, my confidence has taken a bit of a battering.  I’ve found that it often takes just small mental adjustments to counteract this and feel ok about introducing myself back to the working world. Just this one session on it’s own was a total confidence boost.

As inspiring as anything I have mentioned so far, was meeting the other returners. All extremely talented and really lovely human beings. Michaela Coel’s MacTaggart Lecture enforced the idea that there is room for all of us in TV.  Here’s hoping that message will be taken away from here and acted upon.  I’ll be doing my little bit by asking for what I need as a carer in TV.

https://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/14397/melissa-bishop

Our next event is a CV clinic on October 17th at Shiver, please see our site emails for details. Click image to join Media Parents www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, training and events.

@ 8:23 am Posted in Events, Freelancer Profiles, TV Returners Leave a comment

Returning script editor Jaime Caruana how to manage work placements and mentors

by Amy Walker

Having won a place on the Media Parents HETV Drama Return to Work Programme funded by Screen Skills (formerly Creative Skillset). Media Parents acted on my behalf in approaching production companies to find a mentor, Antonia Gordon at Silverprint Pictures, and a work placement.

Returning Script Editor Jaime Caruana : https://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/7402/jaime-caruana

A fantastic aspect of the HETV Back-to-Work Scheme is the introduction to an industry mentor. This is a person completely separate to the work placement, but the equivalent of a potential boss.

ITV's Antonia Gordon https://www.silverprint-pictures.co.uk/about-us/

I am delighted to have Antonia, a Head of Development at ITV, as my mentor. Someone completely neutral, who works in the same field. Media Parents found a great match for me and the relationship is blossoming.

I feel that I have a mentor who is fully supportive of the back-to-work plan I developed as part of the returners course, as well as contributing heavily towards the plan and pushing me when I need pushing. Antonia’s been great at providing me with new contacts and is always there for moral support, should I have any wobbles. Being another parent, working in the industry, she gives me both inspiration and confidence in what I am doing.

I was introduced, via email, to Sarah Stack, the Head of Development at Kudos, and a meeting in person was soon arranged. It wasn’t clear whether the meeting was just to say “hello” and discuss my start date, or to see if I fitted their mould before they committed. I decided to err on the side of caution and prepped for it like I would an interview. I did my research on the Head of Development, the team and the company. Most importantly, I watched as many Kudos transmissions as I could. I also prepped answers for the standard interview questions.

When we met, it was obvious straight away that this was going to be more of an informal meeting/chat regarding placement dates. Phew! The funding from Screen Skills covered a 4-week, full-time placement. Given my 8 year career break, I felt that launching myself straight into full-time hours would be a huge shock. So, having had negotiating training from Media Parents, I negotiated spreading the 20 days out, part time. The HoD thought this arrangement would be mutually beneficial – Kudos would be able to utilise me for longer and I would get more time across their slate.

Sarah Stack https://www.kudos.co.uk/team

I am writing this blog mid-placement. I spent the Sunday before I started in a complete state of anxiety, where my coping mechanism was to spend the day manically cleaning my house. The anxiety kept me wide awake the night before and put me off eating any breakfast in the morning. This was going to be a huge challenge – dropping the kids off at school breakfast club for 7:30am, catching the earliest train I could and arriving at the offices of Kudos in a calm and relaxed manner!

I had nothing to worry about. They all know why I am there (and if they didn’t, I made a point of telling them when I introduced myself). The first thing the HoD asked me when I arrived: “Was I nervous?” I decided to be honest. Why lie? The HoD is a mum too. She totally gets it.

I spent the first couple of weeks observing, attending meetings and not being afraid to ask questions. By this week (my third), I have made an effort to be proactive and contribute more. The key thing for me is that, by the end of my placement, Kudos feel they have got something out of it as much as I have. To be continued…

https://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/7402/jaime-caruana


Our next event is a CV clinic on October 17th at Shiver, please see our site emails for details. Click image to join Media Parents www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, training and events.

October 4, 2018 @ 9:10 pm Posted in Freelancer Profiles, How To, TV Returners Comments Off

A scripted PM’s guide to Edinburgh TV Festival : Hannah Williams

by Amy Walker

Two days prior to Edinburgh I walked into Tesco with my sleeping 3 year old draped, like a dead weight, over my shoulder, writes returning Scripted PM Hannah Williams. With my other hand I pushed a trolley containing my 10 month old (who thought it was hilarious to make her panda dive dramatically from the trolley every 10 seconds). My 5 year old headed up our procession ensconced in a fantasy game. A lady walked past, smiled at me and said, “Wow! That’s a full time job you have there!”

PM Hannah Williams who is being mentored by Merman on the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme, with her daughter Polly on their way to Edinburgh TV Festival

And, yes, it is a full time job (although I have never really thought of it that way). So, you can imagine that I entered the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme with a degree of trepidation, considering I am about to attempt another job on top of my “full time job”.

My Mum and 10 month old (Polly) came with me to Edinburgh and deposited me at the EICC on Wednesday morning. It was a little reminiscent of my first day of school (with the exception of the baby!). I have freelanced in the industry on and off for 5 years but, on the whole, I haven’t worked consistently. I was definitely nervous but inordinately excited. It felt like the right time to dabble my toe back in the glistening water of TV once more.

And I needn’t have been nervous. The overriding feeling I came away with was one of empowerment and a reignited spark for production. I could write hundreds of words about the seminars I watched and the people I met. But the feeling of empowerment really was the most overwhelming part.

Hannah Williams, left, with fellow Back to Work Scheme winner Katie Walmsley, Anna Richardson and Sue Perkins at Edinburgh TV Festival. "The feeling of empowerment really was the most overwhelming part."

I adore my children more than anything in the world. On the other hand I used to find TV making so exhilarating that I would often be in the office until the early hours, so devoted was I to the cause. And therein lies the crux. As much as I adore my children there still exists that person inside me who adores the career it took so long to build. It was Edinburgh that proved to me that it is possible to balance the two. There are many other Mums who do it brilliantly and many more supportive industry professionals who can help me to make it happen part time or via job share.

On Day Two I attended the seminar entitled ‘Legendary Women of TV Reveal All’. With a stellar line up of Olivia Lichtenstein, Arlene Phillips, Paula Wilcox, Selina Scott, Dorothy Byrne and the brilliant Dotty (A.Dot) hosting, we heard about how they climbed (sometimes grappled) their way up the career ladder. Olivia Lichtenstein described how she returned to work with a 5 month old and was immediately expected to visit Japan for a work project. Arlene Phillips moved us all to tears with a story of overcoming her lack of self worth and two generations of women thanked each other for changing the industry by their different contributions to the cause. They talked about the difference between once “clinging on and being grateful for being there at all” and, more recently, owning a place in the industry regardless of gender and presence of children.

I decided there and then that I wouldn’t make excuses for having children. A lovely talk with Media Parents Director Amy Walker reassured me that I have a lot to offer the industry. I should be selling my 16 years worth of experience rather than apologising for a slight absence. I think this is something that all my fellow mentees realised too. And quite rightly.

Returning PM Hannah Williams with Merman Producer Clelia Mountford

One of the most memorable moments at Edinburgh was a meeting with co founder of Merman, Clelia Mountford. Aside from the fact she is generally utterly lovely and extremely talented, she assured me that she once felt as I did after returning to work after her second child. We had a great chat and after a big hug she left. And I knew then that I was back and it would all be ok. If she could do it, so could I!

So I would like to thank Amy Walker, and Merman for sponsoring me in the scheme, and giving me the chance to regain my confidence, which had fallen along the wayside somewhere with discarded nappies and sleep deprivation. Between Media Parents, my new mentee friends and Merman I have a great support network should I need it. But, more importantly, I also now have my old determination and self-confidence back. So next time someone in Tesco tells me I have a full time job I shall hopefully be able to reply, “yes, and I work part time in TV too!”

Since writing this I have started my mentoring from Merman’s Head of Production Rebecca Parkinson, and have been hired by Merman. I will be joining them as Post Production Supervisor, which will comprise of three days a week work spread over five days, working mainly at home. Not only will I be working for one of the most exciting (and genuinely lovely) production companies around but the role fits perfectly around my children. I am enormously excited about starting a new chapter.

Join the Media Parents Back to Work winners for drinks in September

Meet Hannah at our Media Parents Back to Work Drinks on Sept 26th. Click image to join Media Parents www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, training and events.

September 25, 2018 @ 11:47 am Posted in Events, Freelancer Profiles, TV Returners Comments Off

A Factual Producer’s Guide to networking at Edinburgh TV Festival : Elena Mourey

by Amy Walker

In my work life as a documentary producer, I never have a problem striking up conversation with neurosurgeons, politicians or gang members, for whatever programme I happen to be making, writes Producer Elena Mourey. Elena is being sponsored by Raw TV on the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme 2018.

"No amount of hard liquor can make networking easy" Returning Docs Producer Elena Mourey with Fiona Campbell, Controller of Mobile and Online BBC News

But for me, no amount of hard liquor can make networking easy. All poise and confidence vanish when I’m forced to introduce myself and blow my own trumpet.  My body malcoordinates, my hands turn to cack and when channelling my inner Beyoncé, somehow instead Mr Bean comes out to say hello.

Being chosen for the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme was a massive confidence boost, and the first step was a trip to the Edinburgh TV Festival…to network.

Elena Mourey (far right) with the Media Parents Back to Work team at Edinburgh TV Festival 2018

Networking, blurgh – so let’s just call it a ‘chat’

In our first Media Parents session, Amy Walker gave us some much needed tips. First of all, forget that word ‘networking’. Instead, think of it as chatting. It seems so obvious. There’s something quite vulnerable about shouting your assets at someone you have a career crush on. Amy reassured us that finding some common ground will pave the way to easy flowing career conversation.

I immediately skipped off to a toilet cubicle, practised some power poses and contemplated who my first chat victim could be.

After the ‘Edinburgh Does…Question Time’ debate I spotted panellist Fiona Campbell, Controller of Mobile and Online BBC News, lingering by the door. I pounced.

“Fiona, hi. I love your trousers,” I blurted. Her trousers, previously hidden behind the panel desk, were shiny shocking fuchsia, teamed with silver plimsolls. Bam, we were off. Selfies were taken and after a quick chat about work and motherhood in the lift, she was whisked off for press photos.

Returning Producer Elena Mourey meets Sugar Films MD Pat Younge

Other chats I had involved Pat Younge at Sugar Films, Jonathan Meenagh from Shine, Anna Bonaddio from Expectation Entertainment and the new gang of series producers on the Creative Skillset scheme.

I think I found some common ground and have gone some way to shaking my fear of networking.

Thanks to Jonathan Meenagh and Mark Sammon from Shine TV for encouraging Media Parents returners at Edinburgh TV Festival

Having a child can up the career stakes

I’ve always been a woman, yes. And I’ve always been a ‘yes’ woman.  So I found the ‘Legendary Women of Television’ panel utterly inspiring.

Olivia Lichtenstein of Storyvault Films told of her unapologetic approach to motherhood. She admitted to feeling Imposter Syndrome and terror at work, despite winning numerous awards as the only woman on the BBC’s flagship documentary series World in Action. When she decided it was best to be on home turf for her kids, rather than roving the world as a producer/director, she went straight for the jugular and applied to be the editor. It meant working harder but not being so absent.

In television, we’re taught to bleed to succeed. We thrive on it in fact. We think it’s seen as a measure of our success if we can be the last person at night to send out an email, or the first person in the morning to arrive at the office. This doesn’t make us good at our job. Being good at our job does.

So how can we be the best person at work and the best parent at home? I like Dorothy Byrne’s (Head of News and Current Affairs at C4) tip,

“Just don’t try to be so perfect.”

It’s an exciting time to jump back into the industry, when no one is sure what’s next, not even the people at the top.

“The old rules of how things work in TV are being thrown out,” said Kelly Webb Lamb. When TV is competing with Netflix, Instagram and Snapchat, it’s vital that people with different influences, experiences, struggles, fashion sense and music tastes make and run telly. And if new and fresh perspectives are to be valued, that can only be a good thing.

After all, it’s when the rules are broken, that magic happens.

https://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/13955/elena-mourey

Meet Elena at our Media Parents Back to Work Drinks on Sept 26th. Click image to join Media Parents www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, training and events.

September 24, 2018 @ 8:54 am Posted in Freelancer Profiles, TV Returners Leave a comment

A coordinator’s guide to Edinburgh TV Festival : Jenny Madalura

by Amy Walker

I was ecstatic when Sister Pictures Exec Gina Marsh personally congratulated me for winning a place as their mentee on the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme, writes Drama Assistant Coordinator Jenny Madalura. Sister Pictures specialise in high-end drama, with an impressive portfolio of series like ‘Spooks’, ‘The Split’, and ‘Flowers’. Magali Gibert, Sister Pictures’ Head of Production would be my mentor, and I was to receive a ticket to the Edinburgh TV Festival. It was so long since I heard the word ‘win’, in the same sentence as TV!

Media Parents Returner Jenny Madalura with Selina Scott at Edinburgh TV Festival

For me its been family first and career second as a mum raising two kids with a 20 year gap between them. These last two years my son has been through a journey of his life fighting leukaemia, thankfully now he is in remission after receiving a bone marrow transplant. You forget sometimes, what you did and how you did it before being a parent, so it was exhilarating to be in Edinburgh for three days to get some of my media mojo back : networking and learning new things about the industry, seeing the new talent out there and the different platforms, discussing industry trends penetrating the traditional forms of media content and development.

"You forget sometimes, what you did and how you did it before being a parent, so it was exhilarating to be in Edinburgh for three days to get some of my media mojo back" Jenny Madalura, returning Drama Coordinator

So, Edinburgh TV Festival… A room full of stands, heaving with people going to various screenings or talks. YouTube’s stand was an oasis of plants and seats, coffee and food, with places where you could charge your phone amongst the hustle of media people and execs talking to each other, or busily on their phones.

I sat calmly down thinking "how did I do this before?" : Jenny Madalura launches herself into networking at EdinburghTV Festival

I sat calmly down thinking “how did I do this before?” and a first friendly face was a woman who also like me needed to sit down and gather it all in.  She was from a company called  A & E Productions, an American company, and I started by saying, “It was good to get some coffee to start the day!”  She thankfully agreed. Then, I guess we started talking and I mentioned that I was on this programme, the last thing I worked on was at BBC3 in White City, and as a researcher for Panorama and Tim Samuels’ docu-series. I even forgot to say my name at the beginning as we were just talking.  It was good, so we exchanged details.

Jenny Madalura with Drama Producer Dan Winch

That’s pretty much what I did through out the sessions : I met young people from the Talent programme who were amazing; I saw Joanna Lumley, but my phone ran out of battery so couldn’t pap her. Lenny Henry was there, promoting his birthday show. Saw Steve Coogan and Christine Langan, Sue Perkins and Hugh Grant, Steven Frears (Director), Dan Winch Producer of ‘A Very English Scandal’.

There were a few of the master classes, ‘A Very English Scandal’ and ‘Legendary Women of TV Reveal All’, ‘In Conversation with Steve Coogan and Christine Langan’ I made sure to attend to bone up on scripted production.

There were a lot of interesting media people who I was able to meet including our Media Parents Back to Work Scheme returners, who all had different experiences and roles in production. They were all lovely people and I will be excited to see them again at September’s drinks. In a very short space of time, we’d all managed to connect with contacts that may help our journey back into work.  But the proof is in the pudding of whether or not there will be work at the end of it – so the hard work begins now, in the following up all these contacts and seeing where it will lead to.

https://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/15655/jenny-madalura

Our Media Parents Back to Work Drinks are on Sept 26th. Click image to join Media Parents www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, training and events.

September 22, 2018 @ 4:22 pm Posted in Freelancer Profiles, TV Returners Leave a comment

An Entertainment Producer’s Guide to Edinburgh : Jo Larmer

by Amy Walker

“Inspired” feels too hackneyed an expression to describe how I feel following  the Edinburgh TV Festival. I have fire in my belly, writes Entertainment Producer Jo Larmer after attending the festival on the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme courtesy of Endemol Shine as sponsors.

Jo Larmer (top left) with all the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme winners at Edinburgh TV Festival 2018

It’s quite a turnaround from how I felt as I packed my case to go. Filling out the application for the Media Parents’ Back To Work Scheme had been the easy part. And flattering as it was to have been selected for the scheme, the reality of leaving my children for three days and “networking” was stomach-churningly terrifying, if I’m honest. As I walked into the Festival itself on the morning of Day One, it’s no exaggeration to say that I felt like a total imposter, alone and full of self-doubt. What on earth was I thinking that I could return to my old, pre-children, pre-widowhood career?

But with #Diversity the buzz word of the Festival, and a coaching session from Media Parents, I soon began to feel not just that I deserved to be there, but that I still had something to contribute to the world of TV. My experiences of the past seven years since stepping away from Series Producing, far from dumbing me down, have enriched me, given me a new skew and a more worldly perspective on life; a better understanding of the kind of content viewers deserve to see.

It also wasn’t long until I started bumping into my ‘ghosts of TV past’ – people I had worked with ten or even 15 years ago. People I had had great working relationships with, but with whom I had simply lost touch. Reconnecting with them was a chance I’d never have had without attending the Festival, and each of them filled me with encouragement for my return to work.

Returning Producer Jo Larmer (right) with All3Media's Head of Talent Anouk Berendsen

Choosing which sessions to go to felt a bit of a minefield to begin with. I decided to head to all the ‘Meet The Controller’ interviews and fit in whatever I could around those. It turned out to be a good strategy as it gave me a quick overview reminder of what each of the main broadcasters is about, the kind of shows they aim to put out, and their culture from the top. But the most enlightening sessions I attended were two that I hadn’t originally anticipated going to – ‘Creatives vs Computers: Are You Smarter Than A Robot?’ and ‘Legendary Women Of TV Reveal All’.

The first, ‘Creatives vs Computers,’ was a kind of masterclass in development, with panel members from Ricochet, Shiver and TwoFour revealing their tips for coming up with new show ideas, admitting that their teams tried everything from sitting in silence, to walking in the park, to pulling random words out of a hat. But the key to a great development team is… yes you’ve guessed it… #Diversity! “You can’t all be Guardian readers with a First from Oxford,” said Shiver’s Ana de Moraes, “otherwise you all end up with the same ideas.”

‘Legendary Women Of TV Reveal All’ saw 1Xtra’s Dotty interviewing a panel of women who had blazed a trail through the TV landscape. And it is with the words of these women embedded in my heart, that I leave Edinburgh. “What advice would you give to your younger self?” asked Dotty.

“Believe in yourself. I look back at pictures now and realise I actually already was everything I wanted to be” said Arlene Phillips.

Selena Scott advised us to look out for the sisterhood: “Don’t be jealous. Don’t compete. Support other women.”

“Be the heroine of your life, not the victim,” Olivia Lichtenstein told us, borrowing a quote from Nora Ephron.

And Channel 4’s Dorothy Byrne urged us not to let our circumstances stand in our way: “People say – ‘if I hadn’t been a single parent I could have done so many things…’”

To see the full session go here : Edinburgh TV Festival : Legendary Women of TV

"I realise not only that I CAN do this, but I MUST" Back to Work Producer Jo Larmer

As I sit here writing this blog, being interrupted multiple times by various demands from my two little girls, I realise not only that I CAN do this, but I MUST do this for them – they need to know that if you work hard and refuse to give up, you can succeed in whatever is your passion. And TV is most definitely mine. Thank you Media Parents for reminding me.

https://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/15676/jo-larmer

Click image to join Media Parents www.mediaparents.co.uk for great jobs, training and events.

September 5, 2018 @ 10:17 pm Posted in Freelancer Profiles, TV Returners Leave a comment

being a female TV director by Kate Dooley

by Amy Walker

According to the Directors UK report Who’s Calling the Shots I’m a rare breed, writes Specialist Factual Director Kate Dooley. Perhaps (to be over dramatic about it) even heading for extinction, as the report highlights that the gender gap is increasing across the four terrestrial UK TV broadcasters.

PD Kate Dooley Directing for Great British Cathedrals with Tony Robinson, Channel 5

If David Attenborough saw me working he might comment on my tall giraffe easy rig that helps me self shoot, my kangaroo pouch bumbag that holds my essentials, and my alpha dog nature to get everything filmed on tight deadlines with ever decreasing funds. He wouldn’t question whether I missed painting my nails and looking at handbags.  Nor why I should have to deal with the male of my species rubbing themselves on my leg or putting their feet up on my desk.

That is because these are all human gender biases. They are nothing to do with me as a person or my capability to do my job. Thankfully, I have never felt that being a woman was a problem. But I have been the only female producer/director on every production in my career so far.

I have been the only female producer/director on every production in my career so far.

Producer Director Kate Dooley

So I warmly welcome the current atmosphere to foster females in the industry to gain some balance. It’s not just about the numbers. But it is about the balance of skills, opinions and experience from both the male and female perspective. As one of the female directors positively mentioned in the Channel 5 Diversity Guidelines I believe we have to provide nurture as well as opportunities. Media Parents felt like the right platform for this.

So how do we get more of these rare breeds?  What would help is a mix of push and pull tactics :

Most importantly, companies should positively seek out and hire women.  We aren’t hiding in the bush waiting for David Attenborough and his crew to see through our camouflage. We are here calling from the canopies. Give us a chance and then help us succeed.

Collaboration is more productive than confrontation. For an industry all about communication we also have to be open to how women communicate.   For example, I personally prefer a Socratic approach of asking questions which clarify options and encourage interactions. And I’m sorry (not sorry), I also believe we have to teach women to stop apologising.

Negotiation training especially when negotiating rates. There are (at least) two reasons women are paid less – they don’t feel they can negotiate, and the negotiators take advantage of that. The irony is most of the rate negotiations are carried out by female production managers. Thankfully Media Parents runs a great negotiating course and there is one coming up soon.

Writing / shooting training on and off the job as standard for everyone. Included in this is constant constructive feedback like chefs get in kitchens but hopefully with fewer expletives. Some companies run exit interviews with freelancers, I’ll settle for an email or call from the edit if I’m not cutting the show.

Positive role models as per STEM.  We need more female commissioners, execs, series producers and producer/directors to be in the limelight leading the way and mentoring the next generation. (Watch this space for the roll call of Back to Work mentors).

Properly tailored shooting equipment. All camera operators have back problems whatever they can bench press. We need cameras and rigs that are lighter and fit properly.

So employers, it’s time to act on the Directors UK report – I’m available!

[Since writing this, Kate has started work at the BBC]

kate dooley, producer director

Nominated for a Grierson in 2016, Kate has self shot and edit produced factual and specialist factual shows for the major UK broadcasters as well as Discovery. Science series include BBC2’s Inside the Factory featuring the largest food factories in Europe to uncover the secrets behind food production on an epic scale. History shows include Channel 5’s Great British Cathedrals with Tony Robinson and Discovery series Unearthed, following archaeologists uncovering new insights into world renowned monuments.

Kate’s degree is in engineering and this insight has helped her make engineering shows like Discovery’s Rise of the Machines, revealing the amazing human stories behind the inventions hidden deep inside some of the world’s most extreme machines. She is familiar with many cameras including FS7, A7S and C300 and has set up specialist GoPro rigs inside aircraft.

https://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/10369/kate-dooley

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August 27, 2018 @ 3:09 pm Posted in Freelancer Profiles, TV Training Leave a comment