Media Parents

Media Parents Back to Work Drinks

by Amy Walker

We’re delighted to be joined by our Media Parents Back to Work Scheme winners, mentors and a host of supporting companies for drinks tonight (see our watercooler at for full guestlist). The evening is being kindly hosted by West Digital in West London, so join us for the last of the summer wine in a lovely garden. We look forward to seeing you there!

Media Parents Back to Work Scheme winners 2018 at Edinburgh TV Festival

West Digital is an independent, boutique post house based in West London that has been providing creative and innovative picture and audio post production to broadcast, theatrical and corporate clients for over 15 years. Our talented creatives and amazing support teams have a wealth of experience working across factual, features, documentaries and entertainment. We pride ourselves on the quality of our work and our genuinely supportive company culture.

West Digital team (from left) Paul Wilkes, GM, Darren Cock and Peter Zacaroli, Join MDs. Photobombed by Harriet

We provide a complete post production solution, based in our modern, relaxing facility. All of our cutting rooms are spacious with a contemporary finish, natural light and air con; we have great sound and picture finishing suites and lovely breakout areas such as our cafe-bar reception and our peaceful garden. We’re able to offer production companies office space within our facility and we also provide fully managed ‘pop up post’ solutions.

Recent credits include:

‘Chris Tarrant: Extreme Railway Journeys’ (Ch5), ‘DHL: Delivering the World’ (Ch5), ‘The Last Testament of Lillian Bilocca’ (BBC4), ‘A Place in the Sun’ (Ch4), ’Railways of the Holocaust’ (Ch5), ’Coast v Country’ (Ch4), ‘Inside the Storm’ (CNA), ‘People and Power’ (Al Jazeera), ‘Brilliant Ideas’ (Bloomburg), ‘Uncovering Venus’ (BBC4).

Meet West Digital and the Media Parents Back to Work winners at our Media Parents Back to Work Drinks on Sept 26th. Click image to join Media Parents for great jobs, training and events.

September 26, 2018 @ 9:34 am Posted in News 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 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.

Meet Elena at our Media Parents Back to Work Drinks on Sept 26th. Click image to join Media Parents 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.

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

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

A scripted PM’s guide to Edinburgh TV Festival : Geoff Dibben

by Amy Walker

I am lucky enough to be sponsored on the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme by ITV Drama (thank you ITV and I hope I can repay your faith!) writes Drama PM Geoff Dibben.

PM Geoff Dibben with the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme Winners 2018

Before my career break, I worked for many years as an Assistant Director and then Production Manager on films such as ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘War Horse’ so at Edinburgh TV Festival, I focussed on things that were relevant to my area of expertise, scripted drama production.

Apprehension was the overriding feeling as I walked into the festival, having never been to anything similar previously. I had always been too busy working or trying to rest between projects, so it is easy to miss such events.  But the magic of the Back to Work Whatsapp group meant I quickly met the rest of the cohort – a very impressive group – then straight in to sessions at the festival.

The first session was the BBC 1 ‘Meet the Controllers’ session with Charlotte Moore who discussed the future of the channel. Listening to commissioners and controllers actively encouraging programme makers to come to them with interesting, challenging ideas was a useful aspect of the festival. I also found it really interesting to hear Charlotte state the BBC is looking to “… do the shows that no one has dare to, to take risks” as well as a push on diversity, and a desire to engage with a younger audience such as bringing ‘Peaky Blinders’ to BBC 1.

After our Media Parents Back to Work networking training it was more from channel controllers, in this case Steve North, Hilary Rosen and Richard Watsham at UKTV. Again, a very impressive session hearing about UKTV’s tremendous ambition; especially with their expansion into high-end original TV drama with ‘Flack’, starring Anna Paquin. They have the desire to create content comparable to the likes of BBC and ITV, providing producers and talent with ‘…opportunities they may not get elsewhere’.

"At every spare moment I was trying to network with anyone who would listen."

At every spare moment I was trying to network with anyone who would listen. I met lots of interesting and supportive people such as Kerry Greenhill from Silver Print and Jason Simms from Sky Vision to name but few.  It was gratifying that everyone I spoke to was positive about me and my return, especially gratifying after such a long time out.

The following day I watched Kevin Lygo from ITV and his session. An interesting hour listening to his approach to commissioning broad and impactful TV drama which seems to have paid off with the channel producing the most watched and the second most watched TV dramas with ‘Liar’ and ‘Little Boy Blue’ in 2017.

One thing I was surprised to hear from Kevin was how hard ITV were finding it to get Producers and Writers to create 1 or 2 hour closed end dramas – ‘Where’s the next Lewis, the next Morse?’ he asked – programmes that have defined ITV drama over the past decades. That is definitely a note I will keep for future reference.

"It took me back, listening to them talking about pulling the pieces of the jigsaw of production together. This only urged me on more to realise my aims within the industry" writes returning PM Geoff Dibben

One of the sessions that resonated most with me was listening to Lennie James and Sky Vision’s ‘Save Me’ team talking about how the production (about a child kidnapped by paedophiles) got off the ground, and how they developed and realised the project’s vision – it took me back a few years, listening to them talking about pulling the pieces of the jigsaw of production together. This only urged me on more to realise my aims within the industry – to return to Production Management and one day Produce.

Hard to admit, but I have been out of scripted drama production for eight years and I am still sure I took the right decision to spend time at home with my family rather than months and months away on location.  But it is hard being away from TV drama and keeping connected to it. My visit to the Edinburgh TV festival has without doubt confirmed in my mind this is the right way forward for me and I am raring to go…

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

September 21, 2018 @ 4:16 pm Posted in News Comments Off

A Director’s Guide to Edinburgh TV Festival : Emma Bodger

by Amy Walker

I am always looking to find out what the shape-shifting, latest incarnation of TV looks likely to be. I was in Edinburgh to reboot my career having had a year off looking after my son, writes Director Emma Bodger, so it was fantastic that many of the sessions were so forward facing. Two great sessions stood out, reigniting my dual passion for storytelling and exploring innovative spaces.

Director Emma Bodger, Channel 4's Media Parents Back to Work Scheme Mentee, takes a networking selfie with returning PM Geoff Dibben at the National Museum of Scotland

The YouTube Originals session with Luke Hyams was a hit, not least, because it was the only session that ended with a mass selfie. I am now the proud owner of a Cobra Kai bandana (If you haven’t seen it Cobra Kai is the reboot of the Karate Kid franchise which has had over 40 million views on its first episode – check it out on YouTube).

Of course the burning question is what does Luke want to commission? Simple! YTO are looking for “personality driven authored pieces that have international appeal that take you into a world you haven’t seen before”. He showed Left Bank Pictures’ new sci-fi show ‘Origins’ as his drama example. Demonstrating high production values, it was a good illustration of audience and commissioner expectations of a premium show behind YouTube’s pay wall.

YouTube doesn’t have the same demands of linear TV schedules so although working in forms the audience will recognise, 30’ serialised comedy (ie not sitcom – it’s all about getting the audience to return), 60’ dramas and 90’ specials and films.

Although short form is not a priority on the premium channel, some things remain. “One of the main differentiators and one of the great pleasures of making a show for YouTube” is that the audience is able to comment. “It’s a way to get real and direct feedback from your audience” and the good news is, it will still be part of the functionality on the premium service.

Director Emma Bodger observes the rest of the 2018 Back to Work Scheme winners at Edinburgh TV Festival

In another inspiring session, Caressa Douglas from BEN was talking with Samantha Glynne – VP of Branded Integration at Freemantle and David Eilenberg Chief Creative Officer at ITV America in a session all about  “How to Cash in on the Streaming Gold Rush”.

Samantha was keen that producers should remember “that ‘commercial’ is not a dirty word.”

There is a certainly a stigma in the UK around “product placement” that needs to be broken down even though producers are happy to pitch content to commercial channels funded by advertising. My big takeaway was the reinforcement that the partnerships must make sense for the brand, the producers and the audience/consumers. The panel were passionate that any brand integration into content needs to be bold and authentic. It fails where the brand of the show is compromised by including ‘subsidiary brands’ that are not the right fit.

What is super exciting about this new space is brands are now recognising that being inside content brings “an emotional impact” that a 30 second spot can never give them so they need producers as much as we need them. There are cultural shifts that probably need to happen. Sponsors are used to using ratings points as the biggest indicator of ROI, so clearly this thinking will need to modified as we find new models of funding content. But Caressa pointed out that already, big, global-thinking brands are getting switched on to the fact that the phenomenon of binge watching can lead to greater recall of product. It’s not just about impressions any more, it’s also about engagement. Great news for storytellers!

Director Emma Bodger, Channel 4's Media Parents Back to Work Scheme Mentee

Although most of the examples were factual entertainment (I was amazed how many brands there were in Love Island!), there is lots to think about when pitching scripted and it made me think back to my super proud moments from my Emmy Award winning work in Kenya in a parallel universe where we were embedding sponsored, behavioural change messages, making careful choices to protect the storyworld/brands and the characters from not saying or doing things just because the sponsors asked for it but making sure all integration was true and authentic to both the characters and the world.  I feel have a lot to offer in this space and a wealth of multiplatform past experience to build on. Being at the Festival gave me the opportunity and the space away from family responsibilities to reflect on that. The future is looking bright…

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

September 20, 2018 @ 12:23 pm Posted in News Comments Off

A Production Executive’s Guide to Edinburgh TV Festival : Katie Walmsley

by Amy Walker

Excitement and nerves merged into one as I arrived at the Edinburgh TV Festival writes returning Production Executive Katie Walmsley.  And after an inspirational networking workshop with Media Parents, it was time to leap back into the world of TV.

"She's back!" Returning Production Executive Katie Walmsley with Presenter Sue Perkins at Edinburgh TV Festival

The first seminar that pulled me in was  ‘How to make a Green Production’ with Producer Rosa Brough and Trevor Vegera Lopez, Production Executive from Keo Films.   It was great to learn about the Albert Certification @WeAreALBERT, an online points scoring scheme which rewards productions for implementing sustainable production techniques.  A growing number of productions have gone through this scheme, including Downton Abbey, Coronation Street and Poldark. Great to learn that there are viable ways the industry can be part of the solution.

After a fun hour with Roy Walker and some of the cast of Love island for ‘Edinburgh Does…. Catchphrase’, it was off to the A+E Networks opening night drinks at the National Museum of Scotland.  It felt rather daunting walking into a packed venue full of incredible talent, however it was easy to bump into people I already knew since my Production Executive days in Glasgow and I immediately felt at home.  It was lovely to see Alan Clements and Kirsty Wark.  I also reconnected with Paul Sheehan, Commercial Director, STV and Pauline Law, Head of Multi-Platform Production, BBC Scotland.

MacTaggart Drinks at Edinburgh TV Festival

Day Two, and, determined to make the most of the festival programme,  I darted to the ‘The Leaders Debate’ where Kirsty Wark certainly held some of the panel to account over the Commissioning processes.  The difference between how the Indies and Commissioners view elements of the process was vast. From a production exec’s point of view there were some eye-opening revelations. For example 95% of commissioners said they had never asked an indie to start spending on a production without a green light, compared to 66% of indies that said they had.

‘The Michael Palin in North Korea’ Master Class was a powerful workshop, as was the insightful ‘Legendary Women in Television Reveal All’ Debate. Olivia Lichtenstein quoted Nora Ephron when asked what she’d tell her younger self – ‘be the heroine of your life, not the victim’ and my favourite advice from Dorothy Byrne, Head of News and Current affairs at C4 ‘Be pushy and ambitious and marry a builder’.

Katie is sponsored by All3Media on the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme. Katie (left) pictured with All3Media Head of Talent Anouk Berendsen in a leafy glade somewhere near Edinburgh TV Festival

ALL3Media Talent Manager ‘Anouk Berendsen’ & I escaped the busy crowds and had an invaluable chat with huge amounts of encouragement for my return to TV.  Anouk’s top tip was ‘Be confident in the experience you have and never apologise for taking a career break or for being a mum’.   I felt excited for the future and reassured that I could return to the job I love and still strike the work/life balance and be there for my children.

The final session ‘A Very English Scandal Master class’ hosted by Sue Perkins including the very charismatic Hugh Grant was fun and informative and reaffirmed how important team dynamics are to the success of a production, both on & off the screen.

We wrapped with a fantastic CV workshop with Amy Walker, ensuring my CV really showcased my skills and abilities.  The festival went in a blur and I’ve left with reaffirmed confidence, new contacts and some great meetings lined up about my future.  I’m excited to meet my mentor Roz Pound, Head of Production at Objective Media Group next month.  It was fascinating to see how the industry has evolved but it also felt like I’d never been away.  Media Parents & All3Media have given me an amazing platform to return to television and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Media Parents Back to Work Scheme Winners 2018. To read more about their journeys follow this blog

Click image to join Media Parents for great jobs, training and events.

September 6, 2018 @ 10:47 am Posted in Events, 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.

Click image to join Media Parents 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.

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

Media Parents back to work scheme winners 2018

by Amy Walker

A big thank you to all the talented freelancers who applied for the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme 2018. Huge congratulations to the eight winners who will be attending the Edinburgh TV Festival care of our sponsors All3Media, Channel 4, Endemol Shine, ITV, Merman, Raw TV, Sister Pictures and Warner Bros.

We are delighted to announce:

Katie Walmsley Unscripted PM, All3Media

Returning PM / Production Exec Katie Walmsley was a Production Executive at STV Glasgow before mat leave, and had also worked at Tern TV, IWC and the BBC as a PM. Katie kept her hand in whilst on an extended maternity break from TV, read more here :

Emma Bodger Scripted Director, Channel 4

Returner Emma Bodger’s credits include River City, Casualty and Where the Heart Is. Emma suffered an accident and subsequent disability which, compounded by mat leave has made it difficult for her to find work: “As a female director who has found barriers to progression around diversity, sexuality and disability, I would love to bring a different and unique voice to the new rounds of British commissioning”. Read more here :

Jo Larmer Edit Producer, Endemol Shine

Since having her children six years ago and being widowed 18 months ago, Jo has taken on several very short-term part-time contracts, but is now looking to return to work part-time on a permanent or longer contract. Jo’s credits include Strictly Come Dancing, Comic Relief and Pop Star to Opera Star.

geoff Dibben scripted PM, ITV

Geoff Dibben was a Production Manager and Production Supervisor on features including War Horse, Clash of the Titans and The Dark Knight. He took on care of his family in 2006, enabling his wife to go back to work, but returning has not been as easy as he anticipated.

Hannah Williams Scripted PM, Merman

Merman’s mentee is Scripted PM Hannah Williams. Hannah’s credits include Peppa Pig, Sarah and Duck and Wissper. : “In 2003 I took my first steps into the world of television, a decade later I had built a career of BAFTA nominations, crew akin to family and exciting projects. I then took on my own exciting project. 3 of them in fact”. After three children she is on her way back in. Read more here :

Elena Mourey Documentary Producer, Raw TV

Elena’s credits include Hospital, The Job Interview and The Undateables. Returning to work a year after the birth of her first child, Elena needs edit experience to ultimately progress to series producer.

Jenny Madalura Scripted Production Coordinator, Sister Pictures

Two kids with a 20 year age gap, 10 years out of TV, Aspergers and Leukaemia to conquer and none of that is holding back Jenny Madalura. “I have been out of media work for over 10 years since working with the BBC. Having a family, getting a law degree and working part-time as a LexisNexis copywriter, whilst being a full-time parent to my two children, Luke and Ocean kept me out”.

melissa bishop unscripted AP / researcher, Warner Bros.

Melissa has been out of full time work for around three years, as the primary carer for her mother. In the meantime she started an MA in Documentary Production to better her prospects in TV as she is in it for the long run: “I feel I still have a lot to offer and have not yet reached my full potential and have many years left to work in the industry.”

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August 21, 2018 @ 8:53 am Posted in Freelancer Profiles, News, TV Returners Leave a comment