Media Parents

Monthly Archives: March 2015

In celebration of World Autism Week


Did you know that Dan Ackroyd has Asperger’s and Daryl Hannah has an Autistic Spectrum Disorder. They have gone public in support of World Autism Month, and a Media Parents Mum has written for our blog about her experience of Autism.

It’s World Autism Awareness Week and for the first time we are starting to see the world as it is for our 7 year old. She has recently been diagnosed with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder, in a milder form than others, but still presenting challenges for a parent on a daily basis. Simple things such as being ready to leave the house for school can be so difficult, yet it had never occurred to me why until we attended a workshop designed to support parents with ASD children.

We have been lucky enough to take part in a five week parental workshop run by a school that only has pupils with ASD (our child is in mainstream education elsewhere). I realised children on the spectrum process things differently to non spectrum children, but the insight provided by the facilitator’s husband, who has Asperger’s, gave a down to earth perspective that made the penny drop. We process everything around us, conversations, noises, smells, with very little conscious thought or effort, however everything surrounding a child with ASD requires a huge amount of processing often resulting in a considerable stress for them.

The husband describes an ASD person as an old fashioned filing system and a non spectrum person like a computer. If we want to find out some information we click Google and type something in, get instant options as results, quickly scan and click the one we want, read it and move on. A person with ASD has to walk to the filing cabinet, open it, search though all the sub files, pull out the correct one, sit down and read it, find the correct place to return it and close the cabinet. Never again will we lose our patience when I say “Come down, put your socks and shoes on, get your coat, its time to go. Hurry up!” I honestly believed this to be one thing I’m asking but to my 7 year old it’s seven separate things ! When five minutes later none of those things has happened I now know she is still processing the first thing “Come down”!

Please join for great jobs, networking and events. Our next event will be in London on April 28th so save the date. Details will be emailed through the site.

We wont profess to understanding the condition yet, but being introduced to a support person who has personal insight and experience is invaluable in understanding more. We can all look up facts about things but sometimes applying those facts to our own situation can be a bit overwhelming to say the least. Add to that that those facts on ASD are all based on boys and their symptoms and behavior – very few girls have been studied and they are a very different kettle of fish. Boys usually present quite distinctly whereas girls will watch their peers and become very good at mimicking and copying to fit in, thus “hiding” the symptoms. They are all about emotions which makes it harder to spot and trickier to deal with. We also learnt from the workshop that every single thing they get upset about is for a reason. It is NEVER over nothing and it requires the day or moment to be unpicked in fine detail to determine the trigger and deal with it. Hard enough in itself but we were then informed the trigger may not be the situation that you are in when you have the meltdown and upset. It may have been something four hours earlier but they have only just felt able to release their feelings!

If you are going through the assessment process or you have already been given a diagnosis don’t keep quiet. There is support out there but due to a huge lack of funding it is very under resourced and you need to keep shouting till you find it. It took two years to get to where we are now and I have been on the phone a lot to all the different departments involved pushing for information! If you do have a girl who is going through the pathway it is worth searching recent research done on the difference between the sexes. Ask your Speech and Language therapist if she knows of any particular research that has been published. Not one person could believe our daughter has been given this diagnosis, they all think she’s incredibly easy to talk to and grown up. She has copied her parents well obviously!

Please do visit for more information. There is a stigma surrounding Autism largely due to lack of knowledge. Use this week as a reason to find out a bit more!

March 23, 2015 @ 1:10 pm Posted in News Comments Off

5 minutes with Sarah Lee Jones part time producer


Sarah-Lee Jones joined Future Artists a month after giving birth to her first child, Indi-Lee.  Having previously worked as a Casting Producer and in the TV industry for eight years, Sarah-Lee talks about her experience of getting back into the industry part time, and the challenges she faced as a new mum.

Sarah Lee Jones : “Without deviation from the norm progress is not possible” – Frank Zappa

Nothing can prepare you for becoming a parent for the first time. I used to moan A LOT about being tired and working 15 hours a day while casting for TV shows but looking back, I can honestly say that was a walk in the park compared to the first few months of being a mum!

I always planned to return to work as I love what I do but I worried about how I would cope with the long hours as well as looking after Indi-Lee.  After my maternity, I had a number of interviews for TV jobs, which I believe went really well until I mentioned I was a single parent, with no childcare other than day nursery 8am-6pm.

Every knockback really stung. I felt the years of experience and the network of contacts I had built meant nothing. I felt like I had been pushed to the side all because I decided to start a family.

Sarah Lee Jones at work with Future Artists on their feature Portal.

I first discovered Future Artists, an award winning independent film company and distributor, at a networking event in 2009 when I met the founder, Mark Ashmore.  The ethos of the company sounded like a great place to work.

Future Artists works on a four day week (Monday’s off) and I was able to choose my working hours to suit nursery times (8am-4pm). Because Future Artists is a collective of projects, I am constantly learning new skills from film distribution to fine art!

In 2010, I was asked to co-produce The Lost Generation, my first feature film. In 2014, I was asked to co-produce Portal, a sci-fi web-series for Dailymotion. Working from home initially, I set myself realistic deadlines and even learnt a new skill in-between nap times, Book-keeping for Dummies, as I was responsible for a budget of tens of thousands!

Whilst working on the pre-production, Indi-Lee was in nursery two days a week, which freed me up to attend cast and crew meetings. This was gradually moved up to four days a week once filming began and I was able to work as 1st AD on set and still manage to get back in time to pick up Indi-Lee from nursery.

If a small independent company can work like this, why aren’t the major companies following suit? Wouldn’t it be great for more companies to work this way in order to keep the media parents in the industry? Many friends have had to change careers due to the long demanding hours TV requires, but I am really grateful to have found such a great and understanding employer.

If more companies were flexible and willing to assist people back into the work place based on their strengths and knowledge, taking into account their circumstances, it could be a win-win situation.  I would still get to do the job I love; I would deliver whatever was necessary with only difference being I wouldn’t need to do work mental hours sat at my desk!

March 13, 2015 @ 3:11 pm Posted in News Comments Off

5 minutes with Ali McBride SP and Back to Work Mum


18 months ago I gained a place on the Media Parent’s ‘Back to Work Scheme’ and was asked to describe how I felt about jumping back into the whirlwind world of TV, writes Ali McBride. As my daughter Matilda reached the impressive age of 8 months, I wrote these words… ‘Bewildered, daunted, excited, pressured and engaged’.

Ali McBride, Harriet Wallace, Kirsty Smith and Sidra Khan, media parents delegates waiting for Kevin Spacey's MacTaggart Speech at GEITF 2013: ‘Bewildered, daunted, excited, pressured and engaged’.

18 months later when asked to write how I feel about being a full-time working mum the exact same words spring to mind… ‘Bewildered, daunted, excited, pressured and engaged’.  The difference now is that the ball of fear has gone from the pit of my stomach. Yes I’ve become the master of plate spinning, yes I yearn for the nights out I once took for granted and yes I wish there were more hours in every day but, on the flip side, after the initial gut wrenching tears at the nursery gate both mum and daughter are right into the swing of balancing work, rest (okay that’s a joke) and play.

The final sign off : Ali McBride at the BBC, where she has just landed another contract!

My biggest critic

To ease myself back into the world of work I ventured into Edit Producing. Like many parents are now finding it seems to be one of the few jobs where you can manage the demands of work and home life with the stability it brings. But, as soon as I accepted that my daughter was flourishing in the company of others (devastating for any new mum to learn that other people actually have the ability to look after your first born as well as you!) I realised I wanted to get back to Series Producing to see if I could manage spinning a few more plates. So for the last 5 months, on Call The Council, made in house for BBC Salford,  I’ve juggled 2 crews, 5 offline suites and delivering 15 x 45 daytime programmes for the BBC alongside teething, dressing up as your favourite book character and a few sleepless nights. Dare I say it… I’ve loved it.

So would I recommend going back to work in TV after starting a family…. Yes I would. I know I’m lucky.. supportive hubby and grandparents on tap, but as well as that I feel that there are an increasing number of people who understand that you can make great TV and still leave the office on time(ish). I’d say go for it, set your own boundaries and be safe in the knowledge that whatever work throws at you, you’ll cope because it’s usually more manageable, and less sticky, than anything a two year old chucks your way!

Day off!

Please join for great jobs, networking and events. Our March events will be in Bristol and Manchester. Details will be emailed through the site.

March 2, 2015 @ 9:43 pm Posted in News Comments Off

Bear Grylls calls for more women in adventure at International Womens Day event, East London this Sunday


Bear Grylls, internationally acclaimed adventurer and Britain’s Chief Scout, has spoken out in support of women behind the camera in adventure TV, ahead of today’s International Women’s Day Event in East London: “I’ve worked with some incredible women in the world of adventure” said Grylls, “And they have almost invariably shown themselves to be strong, inspiring, and more than capable of matching their male counterparts on location. I would definitely encourage more women to take up careers in adventure filming – it is challenging and life-enriching. Happy International Women’s Day!”

Team Bear Grylls on location: "I would definitely encourage more women to take up careers in adventure filming".

Reel Angels Agency is the first of its kind: an agency specializing in representing female film and tv technical crews writes Reel Angels founder Lulu Elliott. Along with Media Parents Reel Angels is celebrating Women Behind the Camera on 8th March, International Women’s Day, at The Genesis Cinema in East London.  Click HERE for more info.

Media Parents Director and Founder Amy Walker will be chairing a panel on adventure TV at Genesis Cinema on March 8th. The event will start with neworking at 3pm.

When: 8th March, 2015, 3pm to 10pm.

Where: It will be held at Genesis Cinema (93-95 Mile End Road, London E1 4UJ), a beautiful lovingly restored movie theatre originally built in 1912.

Programme ( updated 26-2-15): The event will include an exclusive welcome networking hour in The Grindhouse Café within the foyer of the cinema; followed by a series of Q and As in one of the glamorous screens featuring discussions, from various female crew involved in adventure documentaries (hosted by Media Parents’ Amy Walker), feature films and live television;

Cinematographers Panel; Polly Morgan and Nina Kellgren.

Adventure Panel; Host : Amy Walker, Media Parents founder and Series Producer. Gail Jenkinson – Camera OP (diving with sharks ‘Adrift’, ‘Atlas 4D’, ’Among the Apes’), Georgina Burrell – Camera Op  (Shipwrecked, Bear Grylls ‘The Island’ women’s version), Barbara Nicholls – Camera Op  (‘Tribal Wives’).

Movies Panel; Jennie Paddon – 1st AC (Ex-Machina, Testament of Youth, The Invisible Woman), Jen Annor – Sound Assist (ToY, Edge of Tomorrow), Gracie Donaldson – Grip (‘Byzantium’ and ‘1- Nenokkadine’).

Live TV Panel; Floor Wouters – Camera Op (Champion League Matches, Wimbledon and Asian Games), another Live TV crew TBC

Then around 7pm we shall then go upstairs to the Paragon Bar, to countdown the live launch of the new website, followed by a networking party!

Media Parents Director and Founder Amy Walker will be chairing a panel on adventure TV at Genesis Cinema on March 8th.

Reel Angels has over 100 female freelance crew on our books across the UK. These are the amongst the most highly skilled and sought after women working in the industry from camera, lighting and sound. Our crew include DOPs, Camera Ops, Focus Pullers, Sound Recordists, Boom Ops, Gaffers and Best Boys. They have recently worked across numerous high end television projects such as Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey as well as major movies including ‘Paddington’, ‘Testament of Youth’ and the soon to be released ‘Everest’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

Reel Angels has arrived at a time when there has never been a more opportune time to represent female talent in Film and TV. The Guardian Reports:

Reel Angels has arrived at a time when there has never been a more opportune time to represent female talent in Film and TV. The Guardian Reports:

Leading figures in cinema are calling for steps to improve diversity in the industry as a damning study exposes the severe lack of women at all levels of film production over the past 20 years. Figures seen by the Guardian have revealed that gender disparity is entrenched in the film industry, where more than three-quarters of the crew involved in making 2,000 of the biggest grossing films over the past 20 years have been men.

Francine Raveney, Executive Director of the European Women’s Audiovisual Network, called for “more to be done to tackle the gender divide and under-representation of women within the industry”.

Founder of Reel Angels Lulu Elliot: “Reel Angels simply increases the chances of female crew to be hired for their skills and expertise by being represented. The agency sees them as all too rare talent, it just happens to be that they are women.”

Amy Walker said “Come along on Sunday, there are free drinks and it will be a good laugh. Men, women and children welcome. Hopefully we can pool our knowledge, learn something about, and maybe even improve, our industry. Not bad going for a Sunday.”

Please join for great jobs, networking and events. Our March events will be in Bristol and Manchester. Details will be emailed through the site.

@ 7:42 pm Posted in News Comments Off