Media Parents

Monthly Archives: June 2012

5 minutes with.. Mel Joyce, PD and talent manager


Mel Joyce writes for Media Parents on being a mum getting back into production, in search of the holy grail part time job…  I had been a PD for six years when I had my lovely baby girl last summer. I used to think people who said that motherhood was the hardest job in the world had never done 20 hour shoot days. Then I realised 20 hour shoot days were a breeze by comparison!

But despite how utterly knackering it is, having my baby girl is, without a doubt, the best thing that has ever happened to me. And so now that I have just returned to work after a year off, it’s hard not to have mixed feelings. On the one hand, it is utterly delightful to be back out in the working world having adult conversations, buying flat whites, brainstorming, getting paid (yay!) and being reminded of a big part of my identity that I had forgotten about this past year. But equally, I’m heartbroken about having to leave my daughter for five days out of seven and missing out on loads of precious moments. So for me, the perfect solution is a part-time job, and this is where it seems to get tricky in TV land…
Back at the end of the last century, I badgered my way onto a BBC traineeship hoping to work in radio production after discovering I really rather liked doing that at university (as it turned out, BBC radio wasn’t like student radio….for one thing, it didn’t involve me and my flatmates waffling on about the merits of Findus crispy pancakes). A couple of months later I was offered two jobs; one as a broadcast assistant and the other as a TV researcher in the BBC Childrens department. I took the TV one because Annie, the lovely course leader told me it was the better offer. I knew nothing about TV production; my family consist of social workers and builders, and anything slightly creative is usually viewed with utter bemusement. However, I immediately loved working in TV (who wouldn’t!). I developed silly game ideas for Saturday morning’s Live& Kicking, sourced competition prizes, and made up little dances for pre-schoolers on CBBC’s Beep Boppers. It was the perfect job for a 22 year old. Come to think of it, that sounds like the perfect job for a 35 year old too…
A few years later, and I was about to strike gold with a BBC staff job, when I decided to go off travelling for a year. Mortgages, babies and finances just didn’t enter into the equation. And nor should they at 26. When I returned, loads of production staff were being made redundant and freelance contracts were the order of the day. Before I had children, I loved being freelance, but with childcare needing to be organised well in advance, and employers often unable to consider part-time freelancers, it seems like it might take some ingenuity on my part to balance the two.
I have been really lucky that I have been able to work on hit entertainment shows like Come Dine with Me and Four Weddings, as well as annual music shows such as Glastonbury and Reading Festivals. I have also done stints in Development, which suits me, as I love coming up with ideas and turning a little tiny seed into something special. 

Mel Joyce and her chocolate BAFTA.

Last year, I was very excited to tick off a long held ambition when I attended the TV Baftas after an episode of mine was chosen to represent the Come Dine with Me series. I was heavily pregnant so the free booze was wasted on me, but I did get to hold Trevor McDonald’s trophy (ooh-er)….It’s not everyday I get to say that. It was rather heavy, and bigger than expected FYI.
I have just returned to work after a year off.  My first job back was doing some holiday cover for the Talent Manager at Optomen, which I loved. It was so great to be busy with work, calling up freelancers and using my worky-brain again. At the moment, I’m back at ITV in production working on Come Dine with Me, which is brilliant because it’s my old stomping ground, however it is full time. What I am really striving for is that holy grail of TV land and motherhood: The Perfect Part-time Job.
I would love to be able to work 2,3 or even 4 day weeks but just have that extra bit of time with my daughter during the week. I guess time will tell whether I am able to make that work but I would love  it if someone read this and thought “ooh I have the perfect for job for that Mel Joyce”.  For me, that might be in a production (I have the added bonus of a job-share PD partner-in-crime if needed…), in a development capacity, or as a Talent Manager. If you know of such a thing, I’d love to talk to you to discuss how a flexible job role might work for you, and for me too!

To contact Mel Joyce please click here

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June 28, 2012 @ 8:33 pm Posted in News Comments Off

5 minutes at Sheffield Doc Fest with Charlotte Fisher


So I’m back in Sheffield for the 2012 Sheffield Docfest – the Cannes of factual television without the palm trees.

Charlotte Fisher can be found through the TALENT section of Charlotte is currently working part time at Mentorn Media through Media Parents.

In less than 24 hours I’ve seen three very different but equally inspiring documentaries:  The Island President, about the Maldives and global warming; Jaywick Escapes, which follows some of the characters who have washed up  in this declining seaside resort; and Lost and Sound, about hearing loss and the impact of music on those who are partially or entirely deaf. I’ve been to panel sessions on 30 years of documentaries on Channel 4 and the ethics of funding your documentary  and  I’ve just come out of a pitching session where the winner gets £10,000 to help fund their documentary.

Having  been to Sheffield Docfest last year for the first time, and taken part in a public pitch in front of four commissioning editors – this year I decided to go along as an observer instead. I wanted to be able to relax, watch some films, attend industry sessions and watch other people pitch.

Like Cannes, Sheffield Doc Fest is an international festival and there are fifteen locations around the city centre where you can watch new documentaries from all round the world from 9am until 11 at night. Or you can attend sessions with movers and shakers from the documentary and TV industry. These cover everything from funding , branded content, copyright issues, and the art of story-telling, to more niche areas like “Doc making in Post Soviet Republics” or “ Working with the Balkans” .

But pitching is one of the reasons people go to Sheffield and there are three main types: the closed sessions where pre-selected film-makers get to pitch their ideas to established executive producers or distributors and get one to one feedback, the pitches where film-makers present their trailers or proposals to an audience for feedback (and anyone in the audience can take part), and the public pitches where film-makers are shortlisted beforehand and then have three or four minutes to pitch their idea to a panel of commissioners and an audience  - which can range from a handful to a couple of hundred people. The prize here is usually several thousand pounds for the winning filmmaker to help develop their project and some longer term advice from the panel.

Charlotte writes about the 'Women Mean Business' pitching session, and the Grierson pitching session at Sheffield Doc Fest.

I decided to go back to the Chapel – the venue I had pitched in for the Grierson Trust award -  and watch the “ Women mean Business” pitch backed by Worldview and the Community Channel. Six filmmakers had been shortlisted  to pitch an idea for a short film telling a positive story of women in business in the developing world. They had three minutes each, followed by some questions from the panel – and the winner would get £10,000 to make their short.

There were pitches about a woman in Afghanistan who had set up a furniture factory; a  former prostitute in  Uganda who, with one sewing machine, has set up a boutique employing other former prostitutes to keep them off the game; a midwife on a motorbike in Ghana; and a team of women clearing landmines in Cambodia.

They were all great stories, but it was the questions from the panel that were useful reminders about what we need to ask ourselves whether making a film or pitching one.

“How are you going to make us really care?” “How different is the main character at the end from the beginning of the story?” A panellist suggested  to one filmmaker there was  no jeopardy in her story – although he  agreed it was a great story about a garage of female mechanics in a part of Africa where most women are illiterate.  “You need to  get a mechanic who is about to get married –  someone suggested – “will they give up their job ?”

Another panellist had concerns about the narrative journey of  one film –“If you’re out there at the right time you will get something great – but if you are not it could all fall down flat.” A difficulty faced by many filming projects in more remote locations.

Another film-maker was asked: “What takes this from a fascinating newspaper article to the characters needed to sustain a doc?”

After a 20 minute break the panel came back to tell us that Emma Fry (at 23  probably the youngest person pitching) had won with her project following female bomb disposal experts from the Cambodian mine action centre.

Her pitch did not go into so much detail on the actual story as some, but she was very clear – telling the panel – “I have full access “ and  talking about technique, and the equipment she would use including GoPros. In some ways it was a rather clinical pitch, but I understood why, when Emma told me afterwards that she is doing an MA at Falmouth at the moment and she approached the pitch in an academic way. And it certainly worked. One of the panel told her:“I had lots of questions after I read the  written proposal but you have answered them all – that’s what a good pitch should be.”

There were concerns about how long Emma would be able to spend in Cambodia to really get to know her characters – her plan is two weeks. But in the end they were impressed by her “clear and organised pitch” as well as the strength of the story, which had plenty of jeopardy as these women risk their lives every day!

Emma  told me afterwards: “I felt very strongly about my story. I did really believe in it. I practised so much but  I was very nervous. I wanted it so badly, but  I was up against a lot of documentary professionals so I didn’t think I would be able to win. I really just came along to meet people. I had to do a 10 min pitch for my tutors for my masters degree, but that’s very formulaic. You break it down into characters, access, safety etc.  So I thought I would use the best bits of that. If I was listening I would want to know exactly what was happening in as short a time as possible, getting across the passion without getting ahead of yourself.”

Emma was supposed to be flying to Cambodia to film for her MA last weekend but cancelled her ticket when she heard she’d been shortlisted at Sheffield. It cost her £600 – but she’s now got £10,000 and has booked another seat to Cambodia this Sunday.

Another finalist, Ruth, pitched with me for the Grierson award last year and so I wondered how it was  pitching a second time round – although of course this time she was telling a different story.

“I love the story and the characters and I loved the pitch, I enjoyed it today more than last time. It was a nice atmosphere. Talking to each other beforehand. Everyone said the same thing. Just enjoy it. But if I’m thinking about ways to improve I’ve learned from really listening to other people’s pitches. If you are going to pitch, really go and listen to other people. Apart from that it’s all about preparation. Preparing and feeling calm before you start. ”

This time last year I was in the same venue pitching my own documentary idea. I’d spent the preceding weeks metaphorically biting my nails and pacing up and down,  as I prepared for my first proper, and public, pitch. Having worked as a reporter in news and current affairs for over a decade,  I had never had to pitch an idea before. At least not formally in front of a panel of four commissioning editors – oh and did I mention the 150 spectators?!

Up until that point, pitching meant phoning the editor or head of news, saying I’d like to do a news piece or feature or half hour on…whatever it was… then putting a few lines in an email and waiting for a yes or no.

But pitching at Sheffield Doc Fest is something totally different. First I had to write a formal documentary proposal. I wasn’t too worried about getting down to the final six who had to pitch, as hundreds of people would be applying who had far more experience than me but I reasoned it would be good practice. Fast forward to expression of shock, brief pleasure and immediate regret on receiving the email from Grierson and DFG congratulating me on being chosen as one of six finalists.

So I started work on my four-minute pitch  – to be accompanied by a power point presentation of slides. Guess whether I had needed to do a power point presentation in news – or ever before? This was going to be a challenge on all fronts.

My mentor Will Hanrahan was very supportive and Nicola Lees at WFTV got me to practice in front of her and timed me. In this type of pitch forum if you go over the allotted time the panel will ring a bell and cut you off. This is not considered a good outcome. Nicola also told me I need to do it live from memory. Thing is, although I’d been reporting for years, in that arena you can’t see the people watching you. And although in TV news the gallery gives you a 30 second and 10 second count -  they don’t usually cut you off mid-sentence.

I did my pitch to time – the powerpoint went as if I’d spent my life in conference halls and I felt it had gone as well as could be expected.  Then the panel started asking their questions .  I was prepared to describe the technical aspects of 3D filming, the type of cameras we would use, the budget and so on. So I was relieved when I was asked about access. This was not complicated and I had the access.

“How long have you spent with these women?” I was asked. “Oh, a couple of days,” I said happily – after all in news I’d normally have about 20 minutes over coffee to warm someone up before filming them cleaning their teeth and then doing a quick a interview.

My smile disappeared fairly quickly as I took in the shocked silence.  This was not the right answer. The questions that followed were straightforward, although there was a suggestion that my 3D project was too ambitious and that maybe the timing wasn’t right.

I then sat down and listened to the other five pitches. None of them pitched from memory – all used their laptops or cards as reminders – note to self : doing it this way would massively reduce the stress. But more importantly perhaps they were the kind of projects that were likely to bring tears to people’s eyes. Ironically the kind of projects I would normally be wanting to make myself.  But when one of the pitches actually did make one of the panelists cry,  I knew I could not win. And as one man explained how he had already spent months filming with his subject – who was also his brother – I also understood very clearly that spending two days with my girls was not going to cut it.

This year though, I could watch people pitching in an objective way – I am not worrying about my own project and I can see what works and what doesn’t.  I wish Emma Fry, and the others who pitched, the best of luck with their films.

Charlotte Fisher back at work after a career break, and a career change from news to factual thanks to Media Parents. Charlotte can be found in the TALENT section of

See for great networking, talent, jobs and information.

June 16, 2012 @ 2:53 pm Posted in News Leave a comment

5 Minutes with… Jon Nicholls, composer


I’ve been working as a freelance media composer for several years now, and am delighted to have joined Media Parents, writes Jon Nicholls.

Jon Nicholls can be contacted through Media Parents here

I’ve most recently scored ‘Married To The Moonies’, Firecracker Films’ new doc about the Unification Church which TX-ed a week or so ago. The film features three young British people who’ve committed to take part in a ‘Moonie’ mass wedding, and we follow them through their preparations all the way to the quite extraordinary ceremony in a vast stadium in Korea alongside thousands of other couples from around the world – many of whom have only just met for the first time. It’s still available on 4od for another month (

‘Married To The Moonies’ was a terrific project to work on; Firecracker take music very seriously, and the score evolved very organically with lots of ongoing feedback from director Barbie Maclaurin and the Firecracker team as the edit progressed. As a result the music was able to bed into the cut to become almost another character in the story, which is always very satisfying as a composer.

Jon Nicholls in his studio.

Creating the score presented some quite specific challenges. Despite the strangeness of the actual mass-wedding ceremony, all three young people come across as normal, articulate and thoughtful, and so hitting the right musical tone was crucial – whilst reflecting the oddness of the situation, we didn’t want to cross the line into mockery. I began by coming up with a title theme that we could then use in variations elsewhere – a larger-than-life whirling orchestral waltz tune. It had the right scale to match the extraordinary visuals of thousands of brides in the stadium, had a upbeat yet quirky feel (perhaps because of the ¾ waltz rhythm rather than the more usual 4/4), and most importantly of all had a tempo that worked with what editor Doug Bryson was doing. It became the main basis for the all-important ‘tease’; this was recut several times (par for the course!), but having the same basic tempo for each version made adjusting the music round each new cut fairly straightforward.

The next stage was coming up with themes for the various characters and settings. I began this process by composing a range of tracks (not yet locked to picture), and sending them to Barbie and Doug both as full mixes and also submixed as stems into their constituent elements (drums, beds, melody line etc). I’ve always found this a great way to work; letting the director and editor choose the most appropriate version of a particular track means that the music finds its own natural density and balance between foregrounded ‘busy’ moments and quieter more supportive textures as the edit develops. This saves a lot of time (for both myself and the dubbing mixer) further down the line. As the picture-lock approaches my workflow can be more focused on developing and focusing ideas we already know work well in outline, rather than having to come up with a flurry of new ideas under increasing time pressure (though there’s always a certain amount of that…).

Of course every project’s different – this was an approach that worked well for this particular film, and we were helped by having quite a leisurely edit period. I’ve done many other jobs where I’ve only had a few days (usually on fast turnaround current affairs docs for strands like ‘Dispatches’) – often in these circumstances the brief might be to capture the feel and energy of temp tracks that have been used in the edit up to the point when I get involved. It’s always great to get specific steers on style / arrangement / instrumentation, though it’s often a very useful general pointer for composers to be told what the music should do (build tension, calm things down, pick up on a particular character’s point of view etc), rather than what it should be.

I’ve always been thrilled by music that helps to tell a story, and I spent most of my time at university scoring drama productions and student films. After graduating with distinction from the London College of Music’s TV and Film Composition postgrad course, I managed to catch a lucky early break with Channel 4′s ‘Secret Asia’ documentary strand, and now work regularly across strands including ‘Cutting Edge’, ‘Dispatches’ and ‘Storyville’ with regular commissions from companies including Mentorn, Blakeway, Hard Cash and most recently Firecracker.

As well as my television work, I also have parallel careers as a composer / sound designer for theatre and also radio drama – I’ve scored a whole string of productions for BBC Radio 4 / Radio 3 and received a Prix Italia Jury Special Mention for my music / sound-score for Radio 4′s acclaimed drama-doc ‘What I Heard About Iraq’. I’m also regularly commissioned by theatres including the National Theatre. I’m always thrilled by how the different strands to my work seem to cross-fertilise each other, and along the way have built up a whole network of fabulous musicians along the way playing anything from bass trombones to hurdy-gurdys!

Jon Nicholls' daughter in the studio.

Since having kids however, I’ve tended to focus more on my TV work, as it takes me away from home far less. Theatre’s a somewhat family-unfriendly business, and although there are plenty of stresses involved in composing for TV, I’ve always found it much easier to integrate family life with work when I’m on a TV job.

My wife (who works programming a major arts festival) and myself both work flexibly from home, and between us we manage to make things work splitting care of our two young children most of the time. As with any freelance work, there are the inevitable swings and roundabouts – I probably do see more of my children than someone with more regular working patterns (I’m usually able to take and pick them up from school for example), and as long as I hit my deadlines I can more or less choose when I work. The crunch times are usually when I have a sudden deadline that needs me to be in the studio more or less round the clock while my wife’s work is also at an especially frenetic stage; there’ve certainly been a few occasions when I’ve been on the phone to a producer while pushing piles of lego towards one of my kids playing in the corner of the studio! However, we’ve become very good at predicting in advance when those peak periods are likely to happen (approaching a dub, for example, when I know I’ll be ftp-ing files to and fro on an hourly basis), and like most people in our situation we have a great network of friends, neighbours and family who all help us out.

I’m currently working with BBC radio drama again, scoring a new adaptation of the 70s cult classic ‘Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance’. It’s turning into one of my most eclectic scores to date, featuring gamelan, slide guitars, some fabulous live hillbilly violin and brooding organic soundscapes, and TXes on Radio 4 on 23rd June.

I know how limited everyone’s time is, but I’d be delighted if you might take a brief moment to glance at my site, where you can hear a very brief 3-minute showreel – and please do get in touch if you feel I might be able to provide music solutions for any current or upcoming projects.

See for great networking, talent, jobs and information.

June 15, 2012 @ 9:57 am Posted in News 1 Comment

5 minutes with… Jelena Ilic, PD / founder of Sprout Films


I set up Sprout Films with my esteemed colleague and dear friend, Sally Ann Ritchie in 2008 after quite a few years of dreaming about it. We wanted to make films that made a difference. Films with a social, educational, environmental message. We decided to take the plunge and set up Sprout to take ownership of the films we made and be directly involved with those organisations we cared so passionately about.

Strangely though, although I was concerned initially that making these films wouldn’t be like TV, the process of production is identical and, in fact, I’m probably more knowledgeable now than I was in terms of being across every department. At Sprout Films we run productions from beginning to end, so I’m across pitching, research, scripting, through to self shooting, editing and delivery. Even the dreaded marketing is constantly on my to-do list. It’s multi-tasking at its best. It’s also very manageable.

Jelena Ilic at work. Jelena is currently between projects and can be found in the TALENT section of

Running Sprout has given me a different perspective. Working directly with clients, getting the jobs in, means I work like a series producer as well as a PD (multi tasking again!) making decisions about those clients’ needs and making sure that message follows through to the final film/s – always remembering the key focus of the client meetings. Even during filmed interviews the questions you ask and the replies are being calibrated against what the client wants but at the same time we’re creative enough to utilise our ob doc know-how and feel things through to give an extra nugget of magic. That’s something I will always thank TV for – I still get a buzz from that connection with an interviewee when they open up and ‘talk’ to you – whether it’s a charity client or a TV documentary, that level of communication is something special and why I got into TV in the first place. (Inspired by the ‘7 Up’ series which to me was TV platinum).

Jelena Ilic : desk inspiration.

I’m proud of some of the films we’ve worked on, and excited by the feedback we’ve received from our clients. It feels like, in our own little way, we’re doing our bit and the impact has been superb. A recent film we worked on with the National Trust generated over £42,000 for a community scheme that was changing young people’s lives in urban areas – the funding came about as a direct result of the film. We did that. I’m still glowing.

Camera wise, we shoot on all formats but the Z7 is a little gem and we’re now file-based which is very exciting. The picture quality is sharper, crisper and the colours are great. I love it. Just because it’s non-broadcast and for a charity client doesn’t mean it shouldn’t look broadcast quality. It’s broadcast quality for non broadcast rates (that’s where the multi-skilling comes in handy – saves a fortune). The organisations we work with usually screen our films on cinema screens so it needs to look good as well as create impact.

We’re still TV-trained and we’re still in the thick of it when it comes to production and production values – that can never be forgotten or watered down – it’s in our bones! We’ve now been joined by Bristol-based BBC producer/director Laura Humphreys whose creativity and experience is second to none.

I’ve been in TV for nearly 20 years and one of the benefits of running Sprout means it gives me flexibility so that I can still do the odd TV contract as a shooting PD to complement the work we do at Sprout Films. Also, having other like-minded souls on board means that our ethos is maintained, if one of us goes off to do a TV contract for a few months, the others can hold the fort. Also, for Sally Ann and Laura, who each have 2 children, working at Sprout has allowed them to carry on working and pick and choose their contracts. Obviously we all have to generate the work but the contracts are short, easy to manage and more than anything they’re enjoyable. It allows all of us to keep those creative juices and interests alive.

Jelena Ilic's family. Jelena works flexibly, moving between TV and charitable films. She is currently available and can be found in the TALENT section of

Some of my most treasured TV memories are in Observational documentary and I’d like to keep some of those memories alive by not cutting myself off completely from TV.

Observational documentary highlights include ‘House Of Obsessive Compulsives’ (Monkey Kingdom, Channel 4) filming with OCD sufferers as they confront their illness in a controlled environment. I have also self shot on several hospital and trauma series, following patients from arrival in A&E through to surgery and recovery: ‘We Can Rebuild You’ (September Films, Sky 1) & ‘Special Babies’ (Goldhawk Media – Carlton/Living). I had unique access at the Special Baby Care unit at St.Mary’s Hospital in Paddington filming with families at an incredibly difficult point in the lives and following story’s from pregnancy through to birth and thereafter.

Other vivid memories have to include filming with a dear TV colleague, Olly Lambert. I have many quirky memories going from location to location listening to PJ Harvey (him singing, me chuckling) as we traipsed around London searching for the love of his life (‘4 Weeks To Find A Girlfriend’ Channel 4) or visiting sex clubs in Sheffield whilst searching for male sexual compulsives ‘Hypersex’ (Blast!Films -BBC 2) as you do.

Great moments both on and off the pitch. 

I’m used to scripting, editing and maintaining a strong storyline whilst filming as a producer/director. My offline editing skills enable me to keep a firm eye on the story and the twists and turns that come with that journey. These skills have become more fine tuned since running Sprout Films as I’m more hands on with the physical side of editing and that’s been a huge bonus creatively and narratively.

See for great networking, talent, jobs and information.

June 8, 2012 @ 8:48 am Posted in News Leave a comment

5 minutes with… Graham Reed, Lighting Cameraman, D.o.P. & Trainer


I started my exciting life in TV at the BBC TV Centre, Shepherds Bush as a trainee cameraman, writes Graham Reed.  At the BBC I had the privilege of working on a very wide range of programmes: Dr Who, Top of the Pops, Only Fools and Horses, to mention but a few.

Graham Reed is in the Media Parents TALENT section.

At TV Centre we became very excited when we started to work on Eastenders - at the time it felt like we were ‘trail blazing’. The first episode I worked on was number 7, since then I have worked on countless episodes!

Graham Reed's work at Battersea Power Station.

I eventually left the BBC as a camera supervisor and went to work for a production company as a producer. But after only 11 months I was made redundant as there was another recession!  So I became a freelance lighting cameraman whilst looking for a full time job! Since being freelance I have worked on countless productions and have been fortunate enough to work in many parts of the world.

Graham Reed's Lighting Direction for Football 1st for Sky One.

In the last few years I have worked more and more as a Lighting Director lighting many different locations and studios whilst still operating a wide range of cameras.

So I now wear many ‘hats’, cameraman, lighting cameraman, lighting director, DoP., and trainer, so life is still exciting and very varied. (left!)

I am also a sessional lecture at Ravensbourne College, London, where I teach students studying on a degree course in Broadcasting Operations.  I run about 2 training courses a month on camera and lighting skills and techniques for training organisation, individuals and companies.

On a personal note is been really great that my oldest son also works in TV as a senior sound engineer for Arena Mobiles. When we get together we can have a good chat about technical stuff – the family leave the room when we do! My other two children have ‘proper’ jobs and don’t work in media!

‘Many thanks for last night's lighting in Sheffield. Everyone was full of praise for the look of the room, and it certainly fulfilled my expectations! I really loved the way you dealt with the various machines and also the ideas you had for the furnace and fan gobo. They worked really well!’ Barton Macfarlane, Lead Director, Newsnight

See for great networking, talent, jobs and information.

June 7, 2012 @ 5:20 pm Posted in News Comments Off

Media Parents : how to network


I recently took part in a networking workshop at the BBC, writes Amy Walker, chaired by Simon Smith from the BBC College of Production.  Joining me on the panel were Michelle Matherson, BBC Factual Talent Exec, and Caroline Meaby who runs the MGEITF Ones to Watch scheme.

Networking: Simon Smith, BBC College of Production; Newsnight Producer Brendan Miller & Caroline Meaby from MGEITF, Media Parents Director Amy Walker and BBC Factual Talent Exec Michelle Matherson.

Michelle talked about how to move on up in your TV career and how to get your CV noticed (liberally sprinkle your covering letter with programme ideas), and Caroline talked about the great networking opportunities at Edinburgh TV Festival  via the Ones to Watch scheme, so if you have between 3 and 5 years’ TV experience you can apply – this also includes people who have had time out to raise children.

Here come some tips for networking when you get to Edinburgh, or when you join us at one of the brilliant Media Parents networking events. Whenever I talk about networking people generally roll their eyes and tell me they are rubbish at it, but I think anyone who likes talking to and finding out about people can be a successful networker – and enjoy it - so please read on.

An arty shot of the latest Media Parents networking event. Please see for more details of our events, and jobs.

Nervous? Prepare in advance. Find out who’s going to the meeting, what they do or what programmes they’re making, and when you get there try to connect with people who are in your field.

Guest lists from Media Parents events are usually published on the watercooler at in advance of the meeting, so you can work out who you’d like to talk to.  At larger meetings where you don’t know people use Google images to work out who to make a beeline for – yes, it’s professional stalking but it works. If you know the delegate list or guestlist you can probably earmark someone to talk to.  Most people are delighted to be approached.

Why am I doing this? Think about your reasons for networking, it will help you focus and stick to your guns. Don’t expect to get a job immediately – you’re primarily making contacts at this stage. People network for different reasons - to gather and exchange information, and to make friends as well as get jobs. It’s unlikely that you will hear about work straightaway, but you might make a contact that eventually leads to work – so play the long game.

Media Parents drama TALENT Kathy Hughes talks to Angela Effanga at the Media Parents networking event in May.

Be yourself and put your best self forward. Think about how you’re presenting yourself – do you look like someone who can efficiently deliver a TV programme that looks good? Create the same impression of yourself that you’d want to put across at a relaxed job interview, so wearing similar clothing can help. Use social media, like the Media Parents website, to connect after the networking event. You can also take business cards to exchange.

Enjoy yourself. Don’t go overboard with the wine and get plastered, but do remember, networking is really just professional gossiping – it’s fun.

It’s a two-way conversation – LISTEN too. There is nothing worse than being talked at. Share what you know – about who’s hiring, or about where’s good to work – what goes around comes around.

Stage fright? Lyn Burgess from the Magic Key Partnership teaches this acronym to prompt conversation if you dry up:





There’s a link to Lyn’s networking session for Media Parents at the end of this blog.

Media Parents Talent, Editor Leo Carlyon whips out a business card complete with QR code to give to Phil Stein at Media Parents drinks.

Follow up. Take business cards with you. I recently saw an Editor hand over a business card with a QR code on the back, it made it very easy to reconnect. Use social networking to follow up afterwards – you can use the Media Parents network to reconnect too and as most people’s profiles have photos on them it’s easy to track people down if you’ve forgotten names.

Be more visible online. Think of social media as your professional megaphone – make sure your profiles are up to date, or direct people to one up-to-date source like your page on Make sure you represent your professional self well - keep photos and public facing information on message!

Take your leave politely. If you’re stuck with someone, or get the feeling they’re stuck with you do say “It’s been lovely to talk to you. I think we should meet some other people too.” Everybody understands that.

And do thank the organisers of the event afterwards, it’s nice to be remembered for good manners.

Thanks to all of those who came along to the Media Parents networking event in May, book the babysitter for June 12th! More info soon at

More on the BBC College of Production here:

Useful links on networking:

The next Media Parents event is on June 12th. See for great networking, talent, jobs and information.

June 1, 2012 @ 12:59 pm Posted in Events, News Leave a comment