Media Parents

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

Media Parents Back to Work Drinks Gallery

by Amy Walker

Huge thanks to the lovely team at West Digital for sponsoring and hosting our Media Parents Back to Work Drinks at their facility in West London. We were made really welcome in Shepherd’s Bush by Joint MDs Peter Zacaroli and Darren Cock, and by General Manager Paul Wilkes and the FOH team. We celebrated our Back to Work Team and were joined by more returners, Back to Work Scheme sponsors and freelancers for the last summer drinks in a leafy urban garden. Our next event will be at Shiver on October 17th, see www.mediaparents.co.uk for details.

West Digital's General Manager Paul Wilkes (left) and MD Peter Zacaroli with some of the Media Parents Back to Work team

Maverick TV's PM & Head of Talent Tamara Durnford, met freelancers and represented Back to Work Sponsors All3Media

Endemol's Back to Work Scheme mentor Melissa Clay Peters met returners

West Digital MD & Lead Editor Peter Zacaroli was all smiles

Cheers to all the returners who made it - quite a few people's first night out!

Thanks to Warner Bros' Jo Norris for coming along

West Digital MD Darren Cock meets freelancers with Exec Producer Matt Holden

Making Waves HOP Mags Scholes meets Screen Skills / Creative Skillset HETV Drama Returner Fred Archer celebrating his placement at Tiger Aspect

Thanks to Media Parents' Joanna Gretton for all her hard work!

Celebrating returner Jo Larmer's first day back at work on Comic Relief, and Hannah Williams' new flexible job at Merman

CTVC's Neil Barnes was on hand to cheer on the returners

Thanks for making it a great evening.

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.

September 27, 2018 @ 2:14 pm Posted in Events, News, TV Returners Leave a comment

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 www.mediaparents.co.uk 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 www.mediaparents.co.uk 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 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

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…

http://blog.mediaparents.co.uk/2018/08/returner-geoff-dibben-scripted-pm/

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 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…

https://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/14708/emma-bodger

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