Media Parents

5 mins with Edit Producer Emma Sayce at Edinburgh

by Amy Walker

Thanks to Media Parents Back to Work Scheme and sponsorship from Endemol Shine, I headed for the Edinburgh TV festival feeling daunted at the thought of rubbing shoulders with many of the most important people in the industry, and having to sell myself in a way I hadn’t done for a long time, writes Edit Producer Emma Sayce.

The theme of the festival was set by Jon Snow, who declared, in his MacTaggart lecture, that the UK TV industry is dangerously disconnected from huge chunks of the population. “We must examine ourselves”, he said, “and ask why we missed the story of what is happening in social housing before the Grenfell disaster struck, and why we got both Brexit and the general election so wrong. We are still made up”, he added, “of a ‘London elite’, and we desperately need to welcome into our ranks people from diverse geographical, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds.”

Along with most of the audience I cried, and cheered, as he spoke. And, as a working mum (let’s not forget, another under-represented group in TV), I felt emboldened by his words, and ready to throw myself into the festival.

Princess Talent Manager Melissa Clay Peters with Emma Sayce

I traipsed up to the ‘speed-dating lounge’ where about 20 top talent managers were seated at single tables, offering 15 minutes of their time to anyone brave enough to sit down with them. I booked in with Melissa Clay Peters from Princess, and Caroline Carter and Julia Bird from the BBC. I ended up having three very relaxed chats with three very helpful women. Melissa was particularly generous, offering up contacts and introductions, and reassuring me that “we talent managers are not put off by big gaps on a CV – the vast majority of us are mums ourselves.”

Amy from Media Parents had set up a meeting via Twitter @mediaparents with Pat Younge, Creative Director of Sugar Films. Pat asked me about my previous experience and future plans, before offering really tailored advice and encouragement. I felt comfortable enough to admit that while I have ambitions to move into Series Producing, and Exec’ing, the ambition that underpins all of that is to find a way of working in the industry I love without making too many sacrifices on the family front. He recommended some reading which you can see in the @mediaparents twitterfeed. Pat’s key tip was to be bold, and to request longer, non-project-specific contracts from the companies I work for regularly. He also cautioned me against a dramatic change of direction (e.g. a move into digital, off the back of my social media work), and said I should build on the solid programme-making experience I have.

Emma Sayce (far right) and fellow Back to Work Winner Josie Besbrode with Sugar Films MD Pat Younge - as seen in @mediaparents twitter feed

The geography of the TV festival (all in one circular venue) meant that, in between meetings, it was easy to bump into people I had worked with/for in the past – Tim Carter, CEO of Twenty Twenty, and Sam Lawrence, MD of Monkey Kingdom (an advocate of flexible working). I also caught up with Anouk Berendsen, Talent Manager at All3Media (an old friend from Granada days) and Anna Bonnadio, BBC Talent Manager, both of whom are very supportive of the Media Parents mission.

BBC Talent Manager Anna Bonnadio (left) with Emma Sayce

I was glad to sit down with Bella Lambourne, Global HR Director, Endemol Shine (my sponsors) for a glass of Bucks Fizz. She told me that they employ many working mums as EPs, SPs and Creative Heads and are trying to make it easier for mums to work as PDs.

Then, there were the ‘sessions’ – an opportunity to listen to, and be inspired by, some of the most brilliant talents in the industry … Charlie Brooker, Sir David Attenborough, Russell T Davies and Simon Chinn, not to mention the Youtube star Vuj who I’d never heard of, but who was fascinating and hilarious! I made a point of going to the key Channel Controller sessions and came out feeling on top of who’s who and what they are looking for.

Emma Sayce with Endemol Shine Global HR Director Bella Lambourne from @mediaparents twitter feed. Emma used social media to generate job opportunities whilst at the festival

I left Edinburgh with contacts made, CVs requested, meetings and introductions offered, and enquiries to answer about availability for specific projects. I have several leads to pursue, which I’m confident will lead to work in the next few months. Incidentally, two of those leads were generated by the tweeting I did during the festival.

I came away feeling that the TV industry is one ready to welcome back working mums, even if, like me, they have had a sizeable chunk of time out. The next test will be the work itself – and whether I can do it while still being the main presence in my children’s lives. I’m hoping that careful decisions about the jobs I take, and the path I follow, combined with a lot of self-discipline, will make that possible.

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August 29, 2017 @ 2:18 pm Posted in News Leave a comment

Media Parents Back to Work Winners at Edinburgh TV Fest

by Amy Walker

The Media Parents Back to Work Scheme 2017 winners – Emma Sayce, Josie Besbrode, Kate Cheeseman and Nicola Kingscote have been making the most of the Edinburgh TV Festival’s opportunities to network both in person and on social media. Here follows a quick blast through their experiences with a bit of twitter knowhow on the side. Emma Sayce used her mat leave to upskill in social media (you can learn at home, online, for free) and now it’s a useful free tool for both TV companies wanting to increase audiences and for all freelancers wanting to make connections.

Scripted Director Kate Cheeseman, SP Nicola Kingscote, PD Josie Besbrode and Edit Producer Emma Sayce skyping Media Parents Director Amy Walker at Edinburgh TV Festival

Because the Edinburgh TV Festival offers such a great opportunity to meet many programme makers in one place, Kate Cheeseman @kmcheeseman began using twitter to network before the festival began – as soon as she knew she had won her Media Parents Back to Work Scheme place courtesy of Channel4′s Spotlight on Directors 2017 initiative.

Announcing her attendance at the TV Festival c/o the Back to Work Scheme Kate tagged in the handles for both @mediaparents and @EdinburghTVFest in order to be seen beyond her own feed. This can be done using individual addresses or hashtags – anything tagged with #channel4 is immediately posted in the feeds in the lifts at Channel 4′s HQ – at the festival #edTVfest is a useful hashtag to find and follow other TV production people. Having seen the tweets by Kate and @EmmaSayce, tagging in her sponsor, we @mediaparents looked up the active people using #edTVfest. (twitter posts are read from the bottom up).

Who should we spot online tweeting about #edTVfest but @tcmbigcheese – Sugar Films’ MD Pat Younge. As Pat has been supportive of Media Parents Back to Work Scheme in the past we sent a closed tweet (using Pat’s handle @tcmbigcheese at the start of the tweet so that only people following Pat and media parents would see the tweet in their feeds) asking Pat to meet the #backtowork team at the festival. Pat replied with another closed tweet that you can see in our feed above, asking us to DM (direct message you can send if you both follow each other on twitter) so that he could share his contact details privately in order to meet the team.

It worked!

PD Josie Besbrode @Besbrode took the opportunity to thank for the meeting Pat by tagging him in a photo with her fellow #backtowork winner Emma Sayce, and also to publicise a tip from Pat. As did SP Nicola Kingscote:

Nicola’s tweet was retweeted by @mediaparents with an extra tip – and you can see above @NicolaKingscot1′s tweet that several people followed @mediaparents after that interaction – harnessing the networks of the TV Festival, Pat, Media Parents and Nicola to gain a wider audience. Knowledge from the sessions shared by the Back to Work team was also helpful for TV people who couldn’t attend the festival – and it’s worth knowing that twitter and all social media is seen and read by a much greater proportion of people than those who interact with it.

You can read the takeout from the sessions tagged in the @mediaparents feed on Twitter, and our Back to Work Team will be blogging their best bits here over the next week. Below Emma Sayce is using photos to give atmosphere and context to her tips and also opening a tweet using a . in front of @versharma’s handle, to increase its potential audience rather than closing it with the handle at the front.

Tweets are read, liked and retweeted and can spark debate.

We did a shout out to ask people to meet the Back to Work Team which really worked – letting people know where you are physically can lead to useful meet ups.

Letting people know that the Back to Work Team were at the TV Festival’s first night party certainly had results.

Emma Sayce met Bella Lambourne, Endemol Shine’s Global Director of HR. Huge thanks here to Bella for sponsoring the Media Parents Back to Work scheme for everyone of it’s five years, it makes a massive difference to talented people on their way back in. Emma used the opportunity to promote Endemol Shine’s support for flexible working. As did the team when they met Sam Lawrence, MD of Monkey. (Who I didn’t realise was a woman until now).

Good job the Festival organisers publicised their own photo booth…

Thanks for responding ladies…

Well done to the whole team on making the most of this opportunity to network and connect. The Back to Work team will soon be posting their own blogs here, followed by creating their individual back to work plans for use at their mentoring sessions. Please follow them on twitter and here to hear more about their journey.

Congratulations to the Back to Work Winners, wishing you all the greatest success on your way back in

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August 25, 2017 @ 5:32 pm Posted in News Comments Off

media parents back to work winners 2017

by Amy Walker

Huge thanks to all those talented people who applied for the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme this year, we will be celebrating all applicants with drinks in the autumn. We are also grateful to our sponsors Channel 4, Twofour, Endemol Shine and Warner Bros for supporting this years winners back into work via Edinburgh TV Festival. Meet the winners:

If you are at Edinburgh TV Festival this year please say hi to the Back to Work Winners

Thanks to everyone who has taken time out to meet the team in Edinburgh so far, it’s great to hear they have been making new connections. If you would like to make contact please email via contact page.

Emma Sayce, Edit Producer

Emma Sayce, Media Parents Back to Work Scheme Winner 2017

Prior to taking a career break, Emma spent over 8 years working as a PD, mainly in Science, History and Popular Factual programming, on such series as Child of our Time (BBC One) and Mary Queen of Shops (BBC Two). She went on to work as a Senior Producer and Edit Producer. Her career then had to take a back seat after she had extremely premature twins. She balanced looking after them, and their medical needs, with occasional Edit Producer contracts on series such as The Great Interior Design Challenge (BBC Two) and Inside The Factory (BBC Two). With both children now healthy and at school Emma now wants to return to more regular work via the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme, initially as an Edit Producer, with a view to working her way up to Series and Executive Producer roles. Emma is being sponsored by Endemol Shine.

Josie Besbrode, Producer Director, Factual

Josie Besbrode, Media Parents Back to Work Scheme Winner 2017

Josie is a shooting PD with pre-mat leave credits on BBC One’s The Met, The World According to Kids, Saving Lives at Sea and The Bank for BBC Two. She has worked at The Garden, Raw and Blast! amongst other indies and is returning to work after a one-year mat leave. Josie is being sponsored by Warner Bros and hopes to use the mentoring part of the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme to work towards her ambition of series producing. Josie’s sponsor is Warner Bros.

Kate Cheeseman, Director, Scripted

Kate Cheeseman is a Director in scripted. Kate Cheeseman’s directing work won her an RTS Award and a BAFTA in children’s drama, and saw her directing Grange Hill and Family Affairs. She was selected for the DirectorsUK mentoring scheme, hopefully the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme will help her to find work. Kate is being sponsored by Channel 4 as part of their Spotlight on Directors 2017 initiative.

Nicola Kingscote, Series Producer, Bristol

Nicola Kingscote, Media Parents Back to Work Winner 2017

Nicola Kingscote enjoyed an 18 year career at the BBC as a director and latterly as a Series Producer before taking redundancy. Her career has been primarily based in Bristol and she has worked across many of BBC Bristol’s best known series. The Antiques Roadshow, Fake or Fortune, It’s Not Easy Being Green and James Martin’s Home Comforts are among her credits. Her application for the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme is due to career breaks spent looking after small children and her recent redundancy. She is really looking forward to getting back to Series/Edit Producing and managing teams again. Nicola is being sponsored by TwoFour’s Cardiff office.

Follow their Edinburgh experience and their progress back into work on this blog and on twitter @mediaparents.

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August 22, 2017 @ 3:22 pm Posted in News Comments Off

media parents back to work scheme opens

by Amy Walker


Media Parents Back to Work Winners at Edinburgh TV Festival 2015

Media Parents is re-launching its hugely successful sponsorship scheme to help parents and carers back into the TV industry after a career break. 100% of our sponsored applicants have found jobs after taking part in The Media Parents’ Back to Work scheme. Previous years’ winners include a primary carer who had been out of TV for 8 years and is now directing EastEnders, another secured a commission with Channel 4 and another successfully used the scheme to return to work in remission from cancer. We have currently secured sponsorship from Warner Bros and Endemol Shine and are still looking for companies and broadcasters to partner with.

Media Parents Back to Work Winners 2015 at GEITF

We offer companies the opportunity to sponsor one of our applicants to give them the boost of confidence and contacts that will help these highly skilled TV workers back into the industry. As a company you will be offered a selection of applicants to suit your specialism. Through the scheme companies can increase diversity in the workplace, play a part in reinvigorating the career of talented individuals – and in the process garner great PR as a company – we have a track record of gaining national media coverage in The Guardian and on BBC Radio 4.

Successful applicants will be awarded sponsored places at this year’s Edinburgh International TV Festival EITF in August – applicants must be available in Ediburgh from 24 – 26th August. Our winners will be awarded a delegate pass plus travel to and accommodation in Edinburgh with bespoke mentoring sessions from the sponsors. Historically places have been sponsored by Endemol Shine, Channel 4, BBC, CDN (Creative & Diversity Network), Sky, ITV, Warner Bros, BBC Wales, All3Media, Raise the Roof Productions and Endemol Shine.

Read more about the 2016 Media Parents Back to Work Scheme winners at

The commitment from your company is limited to three encouraging phone calls or meetings with your mentee between September and December 31st 2016. We work with the mentee in advance, and the onus is on them to formulate a back to work plan which they discuss with their mentor. We ask you to support them by sharing advice and contacts. Previous years’ mentors include ITV Creative Director of Programming, Mark Robinson, Sky Head of Comedy, Jon Montague, Channel 4 Deputy Director of Programmes Ralph Lee, Wall to Wall MD, Richard Thompson, PACT Chief Executive, John McVay, Channel 4 Commissioner Michelle Chappell, BBC Commissioner Catherine Catton and Nat Geo Commissioner Carolyn Payne among a brilliant array of execs from across the board in TV. The experience is highly rewarding on both sides.

We screen and check references before offering companies a choice of candidates.

6 Media Parents Back to Work Scheme winners attended the Guardian Edinburgh International TV Festival in 2014, seen here with Media Parents Director Amy Walker.

Applicants for the scheme are required to send an Back to Work Scheme form 2017, plus 300 word précis outlining their ambitions upon returning to TV and a CVs complete with dates and referees to by August 11th at 6pm. Candidates must have at least 3 years’ experience in TV and should not have worked in TV for more than 12 consecutive weeks since their career break. Applications are now open.

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

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July 25, 2017 @ 7:48 am Posted in News Comments Off

Media Parents Summer Drinks

by Amy Walker

We hope to see you this evening if you’re on the esteemed guestlist below for the Media Parents Summer Drinks. Held in a Bloomsbury garden, fear not there is also wet weather cover!

Media Parents Summer drinks will be attended by more than 30 companies!

An informal affair, Media Parents Summer Drinks are hosted by Clear Cut Pictures and sponsored by Cornish Insurance. Here’s some info about their company, thank you Cornish for enabling the event to go ahead!

With over 35 years broking experience providing advice to the Film, Media and International Transport Insurance sector, Cornish Insurance have built an enviable reputation for the development of innovative bespoke insurance products.  As Lloyd’s Coverholders we are able to discuss our customer’s requirements direct with the underwriters themselves.

In a rapidly changing world it is important that cover can be adapted to encompass areas of conflict; Cornish Insurance have proved, time and again, that speed of response is the key to a successful partnership with its clients, leaving You, the customer free to fulfil your commitments.

We are currently developing a streamlined media product designed to let YOU choose what cover is and is not required.   Unlike many of the existing bulky contracts you will pay for, and receive, only the covers you really require.   Any changes of cover, documents, account queries and claims processing will be handled by an online App providing worldwide access 24/7 but all backed by your account handler’s mobile telephone number and live chat, ensuring you have full underwriting advice and support when it is needed.

Enquire within :

Guestlist for tonight :

Agata Mastalerz

Production Manager Shearwater Media

alison martin

Series Producer Freelance

Andrew Lawrence

Lighting Camera / PD drew lawrence

Anne Bond

Preditor Freelance

Alex Sunderland

Series Producer Freelance

Amy Walker

Director Media Parents

Andy Wells

PD / Exec Foss Films

Bea Buck

Group Head of Facilities Warner Bros

Becky Sharpe

Self-Shooting PD ADN Digital

Claire Seeber

Producer / Writer Freelance


Editor DT Editing

Ed Nissen

Head of Business Clear Story

Bettina Smith

JPM / AP Avalon

Danny Leitch

Production Coordinator Twenty Twenty

Debbie Lowe

Producer Filmsof Record

Elena Andreicheva

Producer / Director Freelance

Emily Fielden

Head of Talent Studio Lambert

Emma Ibbetson

EP / VFX Producer & Manager Emma Ibbetson

Emma Riley

Head of Production Aurora Media

Helen Williamson

Series Producer Pioneer Productions

Emily Freshwater

Production Exec Freelance

Emma Parkin

Edit Producer / P/D Freenlance

Gaby Koppel

Series/ Edit Producer Bergholt Brown

Holly Lubran

Development Researcher Renegade Pictures

Ilya Colak-Antic

Writer / Exec. Prod. / Development Exec. / Commiss Freelance

jane Liscombe

Producer Jane Says

Joanna Gretton

Producer Media Parents

Jon Nicholls

Jon Nicholls music

Isobel Williams

Series Producer/Exec Producer Freelance

Jo Tracy

Drama / Features Producer Freelance

Jon Coutts

Editor Freelance

Jonathan Schütz

Series Producer / Edit Producer / PD Curly Lizard Films Ltd.

Josephine Besbrode

ProducerDirector/Edit Producer Freelance

Julie Scott

Production Executive Firecracker / Tinopolis

Katharine Robson

Researcher Wall to Wall

Kaye Godleman

Series Producer King Bert

Judith Bantock

HoP Baby Cow

Kalpna Patel-Knight

BBC Entertainment Commissioning Editor BBC

Katy Ferguson

Series / Edit Producer Freelance

Kirsty Garland

Talent Exec Raw TV

liz foley

Series Editor Keo Films

Maria Valente

Editor Freelance

Matt Currington

PD freelance

Megan Gerrie

Series Producer / Director Freelance

Maddy Addy

Head of Development King Bert

Marta Aliaga

AP Raw

Matt Holden

Exec Producer Endemol Shine

Megan Macqueen

Producer Spun Gold

Michaela Hennessy-Vass

Executive Producer DLT Entertainment

Michelle Brooks

Producer/ Director Showpatrol

Morgan Phillips

Producer/Director Freelance

Nico Byron

Snr Resourcing Manager, UK Studios ITV

Michele D’Acosta

Producer Icosta Media

Michelle Heeley

Executive Producer Freelance

Naoma Nagahawatte

Talent Coordinator Nutopia

Nicola Waddell

EP-SP Freelance

Patrick Keely

Series / Edit Producer Potato

Phil Stein

Producer Director Freelance

Renata Pavelka

Production Coordinator Wall to Wall

Ros Edwards

Director n/a

Peter Demetris

Director Little Gem

Rebecca Dale-Everett

Production Coordinator Wall to Wall

Richard Hughes

Shooting Director Freelance

Sabine Pusch

Edit producer Freelance

Sacha Grimsditch

Head of Development OMTV

Samantha Williams

Producer Drama Freelance

Sarah Lavender

Production Coordinator Freelance

soul Nazemi


Sam Bailey

Production Assistant Twenty Twenty / Warner Bros

Sara Hegarty

Editor Freelance

Sarah Patten

PD Media Parents

stephen lennhoff

Director Producer freelance

Sunita Shroff

Presenter Freelance

Tamara Durnford

Talent Manager Maverick Television

Tina Lohmann

Production Executive Raw cut TV

Uli Kress

PM Freelance

Susanna Thornton

Researcher Freelance

Tania Mckeown

Develop producer Optomen

Tom Collinson

Producer/Director/Writer Freelance

Will Jessop

Shooting PD Century Films

Yvonne Alexander

Executive Producer Jet TV Ltd

Zara Bellos

Production Secretary Wall to Wall Media

See you there!

Media Parents - join now for brilliant jobs and events at

July 19, 2017 @ 2:34 pm Posted in News Comments Off

5 minutes with Producer Jodie Chillery crowdfunding a film

by Amy Walker
Earlier this year I happened to meet an old school friend, Louise, who I’d not seen for a couple of years. Now a GP, living close by, she asked me if I might help her with a charitable project she was thinking of launching writes Media Parents’ Jodie Chillery, PD.

Jodie Chillery (left) with SP / Edit Producer Jo Molloy at Thursday's Media Parents drinks

Dr Louise told me how she has witnessed a dramatic rise in young people presenting with self-harm injuries at her surgery and she had a feeling that online instruction videos and images are behind this spike in reported incidents. Louise had her own battle with mental health as a teenager and was admitted into a child psychiatric unit from the age of 13 to 16 with self-harm and an eating disorder. She remembered what it was like in the mid 90s when anyone suffering with a mental health problem was branded a “looney” or resigned to the “nut house”. And while its true, a great deal has been done to raise awareness and change attitudes since then, Louise can’t help but feel its not enough, something needs to actually be done!

Jodie Chillery behind the camera

I helped her produce a fundraising video for a project called Growing Resilience in Teens she is piloting in Hitchin in Hertfordshire to tackle issues associated with low self esteem and manifesting in negative behaviour such as self-harm. But as I met more of the young people who were self-harming and learnt more about how they are influenced, it seemed to me that there was a bigger story in this project worth exploring.

And now some months later with some filming underway the project is snowballing.  I have contributors, I have an exec producer, I have a Radio1 DJ even, and I have an audience – I just don’t have any money!

I also have a duty and a commitment to make this film. Not just to raise awareness and investigate what it is that’s influencing our young people, but to document Dr Louise’s journey so other communities around the country can take a look and replicate her idea in their school or community group.

This is happening right here, right now and I desperately need a bit of equipment. The equipment will both help to actually make the film, but also has the potential to be used as part of the project in film-making workshops with the teenagers that take part. Hired in or borrowed equipment will not give us the flexibility this project needs.

So, on Friday 30th June I’m launching a crowd funding campaign to help generate some initial funding to get the project off the ground. It should also put me in a stronger position to apply for other grants and funding streams. If you think you might be able to contribute something please pledge via the crowdfunder here and if you can think of anyone else that might want to help with this please do share the link too.

And when this film is released, I’ll be back here writing about how it worked out!

Media Parents - join now for brilliant jobs and events at

June 30, 2017 @ 11:37 am Posted in News Comments Off

5 mins with Isa Suarez Composer

by Amy Walker

Congratulations to Media Parents Composer Isa Suarez, who has just been awarded The Agadir International Film Festival ‘Prix du Jury’ for her film Just Gone, which is now premiering at Cannes Film Festival. The film was directed by Sophie Austin, and the DoP was also female, Lynda Hall.

Isa writes : Following the film award - Prix du Jury -  for Just Gone at The International Film festival of Agadir, this short film, directed by Sophie Austin, is now going to be at the Cannes Film Festival  2017. Original Soundtrack by Isa Suarez. Lynda Hall shot it beautifully, and I was asked to compose the soundtrack after its initial release last year.

Isa, who has scored programmes for betty and Talkback Thames, has also recently composed original music for an oral history mobile app called A Hackney Autobiography.

Composer Isa has also been recently awarded an Arts Council grants to compose Nocturnes Wonder. It will be new music  composed for a choir, a female beatboxer, piano and electronic music. The final pieces will be a suite of free downloadable pieces to listen to on  mobile phones while walking at night, or at home. Launching at Camberwell Arts Festival  in June 2017, Nocturnes Wonder is an open invitation to join us in a musical journey that runs through the night. You can enjoy Nocturnes Wonder at night, wherever you are in the world or during Camberwell Arts Festival.


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May 26, 2017 @ 1:49 pm Posted in News Comments Off

PD Zan Barberton on Perinatal Mental Health

by Amy Walker

Perhaps it is in the nature of being a documentary maker, but I frequently feel passionate about the subjects that I make films about, writes Media Parents Producer Director Zan Barberton.

PD Zan Barberton's film was supported by the Heads Together campaign, The Duchess of Cambridge introduced the film at its premiere. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry are spearheading a new campaign in partnership with inspiring charities, which aims to change the national conversation on mental wellbeing. (Photo by Nicky J Sims/Getty Images for Royal Foundation)

Perinatal Mental Health (affecting the mother in pregnancy and after childbirth, family members and the baby itself) is one of those subjects. It seems that more and more people are beginning to understand the importance of this issue, which affects nearly 2 in 10 women and has been calculated to cost the country around £8 billion annually.  I have been working on a film about Maternal Mental Health for 3 years, and I’ve been staggered by the amount of ignorance, silence and fear surrounding it. So it is wonderful that the young Royals – The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry – have brought their significant influence to raising awareness of the subject.

Last week the Duchess of Cambridge made a speech to introduce a film I have worked long and hard on:  “If any of us caught a fever during pregnancy we would seek advice and support from a doctor” she said “getting help with our mental health is no different”. It feels like a tipping point. Slowly, slowly, the silence is lifting and this important subject is getting talked about.

The project is led by charity Best Beginnings, the brainchild of Alison Baum, a former BBC producer herself, and a bit of a force of nature. She is passionate about finding innovative ways to communicate health information and is a huge cheerleader for the power of film. I could probably write a few pages about Alison (she just got an OBE) but I suggest you go to their web site!

The series of 8 films is called “Out of the Blue”.  I filmed, directed and edited 3 of them. The idea is to allow women to speak openly about their experiences, breaking the silence and reducing stigma. It is an unusual type of filmmaking: obs doc in style, with high production values, but at heart informational. Every film had to hit specific “learning points” and was viewed and reviewed by a whole team parents, frontline healthcare professionals, Royal Colleges and other professional bodies so that it would provide proper, medically-checked information. This was a painfully slow process and meant that the project took around three years from start to finish – the gestation of a baby elephant.

PD Zan Barberton works flexibly on the film around her two children.

The production company was Heirloom Media, run by the talented Jacqui Smith, an executive producer on science programmes for BBC Scotland. A working mum herself, she allowed me to arrange my shoots and editing around my availability – which really worked for this project. I was honest about the time I spent on it and invoiced accordingly, and this meant that I was able to spend time with my family, or work on other projects during the slow periods. This way of working has meant that I have been able to regularly shoot – a part of filmmaking that I love.

Structuring this sort of film presented challenges. We decided from the outset that it would all be told in the past. On a practical level, consent could be tricky if we were filming present-tense stories with women suffering from mental illness. Aside from the practicalities, our target audience was potentially vulnerable new mums, so we wanted the film to be as reassuring as possible. A key message is that you can and will get better – so it helps to see healthy people on screen. We were lucky to have some wonderfully grounded and articulate contributors who carry the films with style and even humour. I am always humbled by the courage of people who choose to share their most painful experiences to help others… it is part of the privilege and responsibility of documentary work.

The films were of course made in close contact with the contributors, who viewed it regularly from the rough-cut stage, and whose feedback was taken extremely seriously.  One of the characters was shown coming very close to suicide in the film and I wondered about whether it was too raw an experience to expose an audience of vulnerable mothers to.  After she had seen the film she said something that really convinced me: Seeing her story on screen had allowed her to understand that her experience was a symptom of an illness rather than an act of selfishness. She said that she finally forgave herself.  Just hearing that made it all worth it.

The Out of the Blue series is available online on the Best Beginnings web site, and is also on the Baby Buddy App. Looking after your mental health is important even if you are well…and especially if you are a parent. So show it to your friends with babies!

Zan Barberton gets her hands on the ProMotion kit at a Media Parents event. Zan Barberton is currently looking for PD work or edit /edit producing. Find her CV on the above link at Media Parents.

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April 4, 2017 @ 12:23 pm Posted in News Comments Off

TXing Tonight PD Phil Broadhurst’s One Born…

by Amy Walker

Media Parents PD Phil Broadhurst worked on tonight's One Born Every Minute

@ 11:53 am Posted in News Comments Off

Media Parents March Negotiating Event

by Amy Walker

Ever wanted to feel confident negotiating your contract / rate / flexibility at work? Thank you to everyone who joined us for Q&A and helpful tips from Line Producer Jude Winstanley of the Unit List and production companies including Endemol Shine, Twenty Twenty, Plum Pictures, with Media Parents’ Amy Walker amongst others…

"Make friends with Production Managers, they have the intel on rates" suggested Jude Winstanley. Pictured with Media Parents Director Amy Walker.

If you can’t attend Wednesday’s event feel free to send us questions via the contact button at ASAP.

Jude Winstanley, freelance Line Producer & Production Manager

Jude has worked in broadcast TV for 20 years and is currently a freelance, Line Producer, trainer and founder of TV industry online jobs board The Unit List.

Jude is also a volunteer events producer for the Royal Television Society Futures team and is regularly invited to take part in a wide range of consultations on industry development.  Her experience covers a range of genres; entertainment, factual, factual entertainment, documentary and children’s.

Continue reading →

February 27, 2017 @ 10:04 pm Posted in News Comments Off