Media Parents

Monthly Archives: February 2021

8 tips for producing TV in lockdown from SP Gaby Koppel

by Amy Walker

Media Parents Series Producer Gaby Koppel has made a series of Rip Off Britain during lockdown (to read more click here). Here are Gaby and her team’s tips for producing remotely.

SP Gaby Koppel, bottom left, at a Media Parents zoom session. Our next event, a CV Masterclass is on Friday 26th Feb, email via the contact button above for details

8 tips for producing TV remotely, by Gaby Koppel

  1. The daily Zoom team meeting is the most important moment of the day.  It’s your chance to see everybody, gauge the mood, make sure they are doing OK and do something about it if they aren’t.  If somebody’s not contributing much, maybe they are struggling.
  2. However important the Zoom meeting is, don’t let it drag on too long. Short and sharp is better.
  3. Don’t just talk about work – even if you are busy, find some space in the day to chat, use Whatsapp for some fun not just business.  Part of what helps to lighten the atmosphere in the office are conversations  about what was on telly last night and the all-important office gossip. Try to create some water cooler moments.
  4. It’s toughest for the juniors and newbies, and we needed to work hard to keep their spirits up. When I was new in the industry I learnt by osmosis from overhearing more senior people speaking on the phone or between each other.   You can never replicate that, so make sure that somebody on the team is keeping a careful eye on them.
  5. Home schooling: I could see what a struggle it was for parents with school age children. They’d apologise about have to take time out in the middle of the day, and you could tell from the time stamp on their emails that they were making it up at silly o’clock.  Huge credit to them for their dedication to both family and work.
  6. You can produce remotely at a pinch, but edit producing is a whole other ball game.  It meant that instead of watching a cut with an editor you’d have to wait for them to send over the whole thing when it would have been so much faster to whizz through a cut side by side to make sure all changes had been applied before it was due to go to an exec.  It wasn’t possible to spin through archive quickly, or to riffle through a selection of music options – often they’d be laid in and sent over before you had a chance to say ‘Nah.’  There are technical solutions on stream now but we worked without them for most of the year.  In future I’d say to maximise the gains from a remote edit you need to spend money on any technical solution available from day one.  They say if all else fails, try Zoom on the editor’s phone, though I didn’t have to resort to that myself.
  7. The changing rules of lockdown could feel like standing on quicksand – you are having to react more like a daily production than one which is produced over five months.  When that happens and you are changing key bits of commentary or  even coming up with new films at short notice it’s best if you can enjoy the ride and relish the taste of adrenaline.
  8. And finally, on a personal note you need to get out of the house at least once a day or you will go mad. I started running every morning – something I hadn’t done for years.

Gaby Koppel is available now as Series Producer/ Edit Producer:

https://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/314/gaby-koppel

Series Producer Gaby Koppel remotely surveys her Pop Up Shop team in Manchester

Join us for Media Parents events, jobs and training at www.mediaparents.co.uk. Our latest event is a CV masterclass on Feb 26th

February 24, 2021 @ 12:54 pm Posted in How To, News Comments Off

5 minutes with series producer Gaby Koppel making TV in lockdown

by Amy Walker

It was the moment that I really did take my eye off the ball. Up in the back bedroom of my Hackney home I was supposed to be ‘eyeballing’ the latest series of consumer programme Rip-Off Britain: Holidays, which meant I should have been checking every frame for mistakes and corrections – it’s the final safety net before transmission.  But my focus had wandered and mentally I floated off to the North of England’s glitziest shopping mall, writes Series Producer Gaby Koppel.

Series Producer Gaby Koppel remotely surveys her Pop Up Shop team in Manchester

But this was no fantasy shopping trip – I’d stopped the video on a sequence showing our production team at work on our annual Pop Up Shop at Manchester’s Trafford Centre.  It’s  a chance for presenters and experts to meet the public, and what’s unusual about Pop Up is that the crews are there on screen, so in the wide shots I could see all our producers, film makers and researchers.  By now the clock was ticking – up in Salford our facilities house was on tenterhooks for me to green light delivery, but instead of getting on with the job of checking captions and scripts and blurring, I was thinking ‘Oo there’s Natalie – and is that Steve?’  I let it play on a few more seconds and stopped again, ‘There’s Sherry and Kirk and even from behind I can tell that’s Ian’.

Suddenly reality kicked in, and with a jump I realised my mind wasn’t just wandering because I was tired – it was because I’d missed simply being physically in the room with people.  Being there with them, not on a screen, a phone or an email. This was my first time series producing remotely.

Right at the beginning of lockdown I worked on a quickly assembled daily daytime show for BBC1 One.  Healthcheck UK Live presented by Dr Xand van Tulleken, Michelle Ackerley, Angela Rippon and Mr Motivator scored a huge hit with the viewing public.  A small part of a large team, I was producing series of film inserts remotely instead of my weekly routine of getting on the train at Euston and heading north for three nights a week.  When my kids were younger I’d have leapt at the opportunity to do a TV job from home, but by now they’ve flown the nest I was more concerned about missing out on seeing my Manchester Uni student son.

At first the idea of running a team I’d never met in person while producing TV from our distant bedrooms and kitchens seemed like a ridiculous novelty.  But like TV people all around the country we discovered how adaptable we were.  Of course it was fascinating to see the rails of kids clothes, the geography course-work displays and the type of bedspreads favoured by my colleagues, but it could also feel like working in slow motion – initially all of us racked up huge hours to get the job done.  That’s because we work in a world greased by communication – a nod, a smile, even a joke around the long desk we share can move a production forward without having to send round a group email or schedule in a Zoom meeting.

SP Gaby Koppel, bottom left, at a Media Parents zoom session. Our next event, a CV Masterclass is on Friday 26th Feb, email via the contact button above for details

But it proved to be like learning a complicated yoga move – as time went on we picked up momentum and surprised ourselves by our agility as we learnt how to juggle Zooms, phone calls, Whatsapp messages and emails to get the team dynamics right and move things on. Even when you are 200 miles away you can sense when a one-to-one chat will boost somebody whose motivation is flagging, or when you can straighten out a film that has gone off course by summoning 5 key people to join an ad hoc video conference.

A team spread all over the UK was soon working efficiently. Of course the only people actually leaving home were the film makers, DITs and runners – their jobs made significantly  more laborious by the wiping , the distancing, the masks, the having to film outdoors if you can despite the weather, the constant reference to health and safety advisors, and a maximum travel time of 90 minutes.  Yet some of the results were astonishingly good because we had adapted to the circumstances, and because we were able to call on some top class PDs at short notice.

Julia Somerville and some of Gaby Koppel's Rip Off Britain team

We made a series of cookery films at chef Ellis Barrie’s Anglesey kitchen – with the restaurant shut we had the place to ourselves, and it was roomy enough to keep our distance.  Ground Force veteran Tommy Walsh made over his garden for us,  and Jay Blades worked his magic on an old chair in his airy workshop.  All credit to PDs Anneliese Edwards, Debbie Martin and Josh Newman.

Sometimes it is true that we had to lower our standards both technically and in terms of content – but the audience forgave us as if it was an imperfect hand-knitted sweater that had been made with love. When Gregg Wallace was good enough to film something on his phone for us – I’m sure he would have  had the grace to admit that he was somewhat out of his depth –  we were just grateful to him for being so game. I produced a two part interior design feature where the film maker remained outside the house (high five to PD Charlie Preston) , and we got endless mileage out of the contents of Chris Bavin’s fridge.  To achieve it we were innovating and problem solving every day, because that’s what we do.

By the time we went into production with Rip Off Britain: Holidays in August a lot of the lessons about how to make it work had been learned.  And though it could sometimes still feel like walking through quicksand in oversize wellies, we were beginning to find those magic moments all over again.   With thanks to my fabulous team, click here for some thoughts:

8 tips for producing TV in lockdown from SP Gaby Koppel

There’s been a lot of talk about the world of work being permanently changed by what we’ve learnt during lockdown. Though I personally cannot wait to get back to the office, I have to grudgingly admit that we’ve learned stuff that is transformational, like being able to recruit researchers and producers regardless of where they are based geographically.  I predict that video conferencing is going to be an essential part of our toolkit for the foreseeable future and some of our Zoom interviews have turned out to be high spec enough to use even when we don’t have to.

Those of us who have been lucky enough to work through this year will never forget it. I hope that everybody in the industry will eventually benefit from some of the innovations that have been forced out of us  – the progress may have been painful, but in retrospect it was nothing short of remarkable.

Gaby Koppel is available as Series Producer/ Edit Producer

https://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/314/gaby-koppel

Join us for Media Parents events, jobs and training at www.mediaparents.co.uk. Our latest event is a CV masterclass on Feb 26th

@ 12:51 pm Posted in News Comments Off

5 minutes with Producer Jodie Chillery

by Amy Walker

It was February 2020, and it was Prince Harry’s final engagement. With Lewis Hamilton, HRH was set to open a motor museum before a new life awaited in America. For me it was the shoot that would be the final tick in the box for my development to get its long-awaited greenlight, writes Media Parents Producer Jodie Chillery.

Development Producer Jodie Chillery works on access to Prince Harry.

Two years I’d been working on access to secure a new series that would see me directing shoots at the Isle of Man TT, the Silverstone GrandPrix and Manchester’s Parklife Festival. The positive parley with Prince Harry’s people to allow me to cover this event was definitely going to guarantee 2020 as a career highlight…

…And then it was March 2020.

The green light turned to amber.

The amber light has since dimmed so much it’ll require more than a battery change to resurrect the pitch.

Today, I’m teacher to a 9 year old boy who, for the most part, is more intelligent than I, loves a debate and is very strong willed in working on doing his own thing in his own time.  I don’t have the relevant qualifications, patience, resilience, willpower, skill, experience or desire to be a teacher.

Despite my obvious love for all things filming and TV, I’ve grown to hate You Tube and its inane content with such ferocity that most days I come close to doing a Kirstie Allsopp and threaten to smash any screen that dares to air its jaunty little red and white logo.

If you thought two years for access was a long time, that was a doddle compared to the two and a half hours to complete one 12 X tables worksheet. I cried. He cried. The video wouldn’t play. The printer told us to f*ck off. He demanded 84 counters so he could work out how many times 12 goes into 84. I dutifully cut up and coloured 84 tiny, floaty, bits of paper only for this unintentional confetti to end up under the bed, behind the cupboard and in my underwear. Ultimately I screamed “SEVEN, it’s seven!”

This was not the career highlight I had been hoping for.

Producer Jodie Chillery at the TV day job that's definitely easier than homeschooling!

For respite, we make a regular trip to the pharmacy and paper shop for a shielding neighbour. Over the months, we’ve watched a Barn Owl nest, hunt and hope to spot its owlets fledge. We’ve watched the trilogies of Back to the Future, The Karate Kid and Short Circuit. And when school was briefly open I coached a teacher in basic camera skills and edited his footage for a Remembrance film and their Christmas performance.

Isolation, sickness, death, the darkness of winter, the 12 times table, fronted adverbials and what the Vikings at Lindisfarne ate will all, I‘m sure, make me a better producer, and a more grateful workmate.

It’ll soon be March again. March the 8th precisely (International Women’s Day!), I’m led to believe is when I’ll be available for work. Give me posturing princes, apprehensive police officers and sensitive scripts any day, I’m more than ready to take them on!

https://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/4945/jodie-chillery

If you’re looking for work after homeschooling join us for How to Ace a Job Interview Online.

Join us for Media Parents events, jobs and training at www.mediaparents.co.uk

February 7, 2021 @ 6:52 pm Posted in Freelancer Profiles, News Comments Off

Event: How to Ace A Job Interview Online

by Amy Walker

Face any online interview fearlessly with Media Parents Director Amy Walker’s TV industry tips at Media Parents’ February event.

Get Prepared, Feel Confident. See the Media Parents watercooler for tickets. (Photo: Clare Lawrence http://www.loveseen.co.uk/)

Join us from 12 – 1pm on Friday 12th February 2021 for an interactive online workshop: How to Ace A Job Interview Online. Sign up for your ticket via the Media Parents watercooler or non-members click here to email us for details.

Join us for Media Parents events, jobs and training at www.mediaparents.co.uk

@ 6:32 pm Posted in Events, How To, TV Training Comments Off