Jordan Livermore, our 2009 graduate and one of LSFM inspirational mentors, has produced a series of TV coaching videos on Work experience; CVs; Degrees; and Lifestyle. They are based on his 5 years working in television because he said “I know how tough it was” and he wanted “to help newcomers to the TV industry. Anyone who is looking to move into, upwards and onwards in TV should start here.”
So where have I been!? Well if I remember correctly the last time I updated this blog was when I was out in Bristol, coming toward the end of my contract on Deal or No Deal as a contestant researcher. And what makes this industry so amazingly fun is also what makes it so petrifyingly scary at times … it’s unpredictability. So whilst this post might seem to flow like a well thought out, calculated journey, the reality is that I had no real idea where I was going to end up!
SO with that in mind here’s what happened. At the end of Deal or No Deal, I put a Facebook post up on my wall saying I was going to be available. At the same time, I complained on a forum that sometimes the industry isn’t open enough when it comes to learning how budgets are put together. These were skills I wanted to learn! A line producer who I had worked for the year before gave me a call and wanted to see if I’d be interested in working in Brighton for the summer on an engineering show called Beat The Ancestors for CH5 where he was happy to put me through the paces on an Assistant Co-ordinator. I thought ‘why not!? I’ve got nothing else on!’. So I worked on that for 6 weeks. Week 5 was when I started to worry. Where the hell am I going to go!?
HELLO FACEBOOK! This time I saw a researcher job being advertised on one of large groups set up to manage the TV industry. It a consumer show for Channel 4. I apply and get asked to come in for a chat. At the same time one of my producers on Beat The Ancestors suggest I go to interview for a job he’s got coming up… a gadget show being hosted by Stephen Fry! So at this point I have two jobs and go to interview for both. And unbelievably I get offered both!! The consumer show is a longer contract and pays a touch more so I accept that one but the person who interviewed me suggested I keep in touch.
Now working on that show was a big fat toughy! There were a few issues with it, the main one being that the brief of what the show was changed half way through filming. Basically there were two sides to the show; business make over and teaching people to become hagglers. The balance changed halfway through where it went from a business make over show with a bit of haggler teaching to mainly haggler teaching with a bit of a business make over… not ideal when you’ve spent months concentrating on the wrong side of the show. BUT it was this job which taught me what can be achieved in such a small amount of time and under pressure … and whether it’s possible to find a young couple looking to buy a sofa ahead of the Christmas sales (…it’s not).
So then January 2013 rolls around and I drop the Stephen Fry Gadget Man producer at North One a note saying I’m available in February… who then offers me a job in development. That is COMING UP WITH SHOWS FOR TV!! Now, as it turns out there are two sides to developing shows. One is bringing your own mad, ludicrous ideas to the table (remind me to never talk about Extreme Sheep Dogging ever again) and working with others to pitch an idea which a broadcaster has asked for e.g. Discovery might be after a new adventure series focusing on technology or something. It’s important to get the balance right so you always have a stockpile of new ideas ready to go.
So I do that for a couple of months and then get offered Gadget Man which I turned down 6 months ago to help people buy sofas. This time though it’s being presented by Richard Ayoade – a personal hero of mine since Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace. So I get the opportunity to not only come up with what the show is going to include but to work on it as well (AMAZING!). The key thing I learnt working on the show was the gadgets take a long time to come in … and rarely work when you’re filming them on the day (yay for stressful shoot times!).
So after that I jump back into development with a new entertainment team at North One and the mad ideas start coming out again (such as Britain From the Sky*). My ideas then become a bit science-y and a bit techy and then the opportunity to work on another series of Gadget Man creeps up. This time as an Assistant Producer. [*This at the time seemed ridiculous, but ITV commissioned a series this year called Secrets From The Sky]
So this time round, the series gave me a bit more responsibility and also a little bit more steer on the story. It was fun, but was hard work. At this point I coined a phrase which I think a lot of people can relate to: WORKING IN TV IS SIMILAR TO BEING IN A SPIN CLASS. SOMETIMES IT’S HIDEOUS AND YOU COULD JUST HOP OFF YOUR BIKE AND BOLT FOR THE DOOR. BUT A MASSIVE PART OF YOU IS URGING YOU TO STAY; IT’S MUCH MORE FULFILLING TO SEE IT ALL THE WAY THROUGH.
The pride I have for that series over shadows any project I’ve worked on to date. It was amazing to see some of my ideas on paper, take on a life of their own on TV. So I go back into development briefly at North One, but a month later, something even more amazing happens. I see a post on Facebook looking for an Assistant Producer to help develop a series I had always wanted to work on… and unbelievably I get offered the job on: ANT & DEC’S SATURDAY NIGHT TAKEAWAY! I can’t begin to tell you how amazing it felt to be part of this team. A show I had wanted to work on before I even went to university, let alone work in TV. And what made this even more insane was I was working with the Series Producer to help develop it to bigger and better than the years before. No easy task but everyday meant building something else into the show; be it the idea of abseiling down a building, hiding cameras throughout someone’s life or a life like gorilla costume to fool a celebrity – no two days were the same.
After a month, I get the opportunity to work on some of the hidden camera shoots which took a lot of time and resources to arrange. The lengths that the team goes to make this marvel of modern day entertainment come together is almost impossible to get your head round. But I quickly took another quote away with me: IF YOU DO SOMETHING RIGHT, PEOPLE WILL NOTICE YOU’VE DONE NOTHING AT ALL.
And this rings true on a show as flawless as Takeaway. A shoot which looks simple can easily involve 30 crew / production members. The things that look complicated will probably involve close to 100.
So all of this brings me to where I am now. My contract finished on Takeaway and had only applied for a couple of things I had seen on Facebook on Friday morning.
- Friday evening I had a phone call from a producer
- I go to meet him at his office Monday morning
- I get a call that afternoon telling me they’d like me to work for them
- I’m going to be helping develop a new music entertainment format for Sky 1
God knows where I’ll be next year. And what makes this industry so amazingly fun.