Today, I sit here four years on, as Eon’s Production Manager and apple certified editor, having worked on a multitude of diverse projects and having gained some fundamental experience. Many graduates may dismiss the idea of working in corporate production, but I couldn’t have hoped for a better start in the industry.
The phrase, ‘right place, right time’ has certainly rung true since I left the safe haven of University life. Don’t get me wrong, it’s taken a lot of hard work and determination to get where I am today, but a certain amount of luck is not to be underestimated.
I began my quest for work in the Media Industry during my second year at Lincoln. Having spent my first summer working monotonously in a pea factory, I decided it was time to forget about the money and do something more productive with my 4 months off.
I was keen to work abroad for the summer so no sooner had I discovered that summer camps in the US were seeking photography and video counsellors, my application was sent. I landed a role as Video Counsellor at an idyllic all-girl camp in Maine, USA where I spent a fantastic 9 weeks shooting footage for CAMP TV, making short films and teaching young girls about story telling, video production and editing. Not only was this a valuable experience, I learnt a great deal myself too.
On returning to University I felt more confident, more creative and ready for the challenges that lay ahead in my final year. It was around this time that I encountered my first stroke of luck. A friend of mine had been approached by Cosmopolitan Magazine to tell her story as a bulimia survivor. They invited her down to London for a make-over and photo-shoot and she asked if I would go along for moral support; I accepted.
We were picked up from Kings Cross and taken to the location of the shoot; it was here we met Joan, the Picture Editor of Cosmo at the time. Whilst the shoot was taking place I took the opportunity to chat to Joan about her role at the magazine and what I was currently doing at University. I managed to demonstrate my enthusiasm and left with Joan’s email address etched onto the back of my hand. On returning home, I made it a priority to follow up our day in London with a friendly ‘thank you’ email and enquiry about work experience. To my delight, Joan replied and offered me a weeks work experience as a picture researcher …Result.
Despite not being an area of the industry I was particularly keen to pursue a career in, it was an amazing experience; the only downside being that a week wasn’t long enough! I kept in touch with Joan afterwards, exchanging emails from time to time about what I was up to. People will easily forget you in this industry so the odd phone call/ email isn’t being a nuisance, it demonstrates initiative. Consequently, I banked my time in London as a fab addition to my CV and went on to seek work in video production, my real passion.
During my final year at University I volunteered for anything and everything I could get my hands on, but towards the end of my degree it was looking more and more likely I would have to return home until I could save enough money to move somewhere with great media prospects. Upon leaving Lincoln, I updated my CV, did my research and began by writing to local production companies in Hull for work experience. It wasn’t long until I had a phonecall from the MD of a top corporate producer in the area who said my letter stood out and he wanted to meet with me. We met for coffee where he told me he was impressed with how much I knew about his company. We were always told at University how important it is to research a company before approaching them, but it was only at this point that I realised how vital it really is! Although they didn’t have a position available at the time, they offered to take me along as a runner on some of their video shoots. I jumped at the chance.
For the next few months they would give me a call each time they had something I could get involved in and I would go along and log footage, take photographs, prepare kit and of course, make the tea. Thanks to this experience I clocked up more miles on my CV including a drama written and Directed by John Godber, a two-day shoot for SAKS hairdressing, a promotional film for Nisa International and a short for Unilever, presented by Helen Philpott.
During this time I continued to write speculative letters and emails to companies all over the country, only to fail to get a response in most cases. At this point I began to lose heart; When would someone give me the chance to move out of experience and into employment?
When I left University I was fully prepared for the ‘work for free’ period, but I hadn’t really anticipated how long this would last.
Working part-time in retail and running low on cash, I started invigilating at school exams and applying for full-time posts alongside my hopeful applications to production companies. Having graduated in the midst of the recession I was stuck in that place we all know too well; wanting a job in the media industry and simply needing a job!
I did however, receive another promising email. The MD at Eon Media, a major corporate producer in the area, invited me in to meet him at their offices in Hull. It was described as an ‘informal chat’ but certainly didn’t feel like it…let’s face it, this was an interview. After our meeting I didn’t hear anything for a while so I decided to call the office to chase it up. Several phone calls later I got through to the MD and he offered me a job as their Production Co-ordinator.
At the time I wrote my letter to Eon, a couple of the guys at the company were setting up on their own and one other member of staff was leaving so there was an opening in the video production department. Unbeknown to me, I couldn’t have timed it any better.
About a year into my employment with Eon I received a call from the company I’d previously done work experience with, offering me a full-time position with them as an editor. After much deliberation I turned it down, but for the first time in my career I’d been presented with a choice, and it felt great.
Today, I sit here four years on, as Eon’s Production Manager and apple certified editor, having worked on a multitude of diverse projects and having gained some fundamental experience. Many graduates may dismiss the idea of working in corporate production, but I couldn’t have hoped for a better start in the industry. In my experience, the opportunity to progress is much greater than what you may find in any other area of the industry.
Starting out researching, logging and taking phone calls, I was soon promoted and now find myself producing TV adverts, managing a team, writing scripts, booking actors/ presenters, editing documentaries, leading client meetings, interviewing heads of business and directing multi-camera live events. For the second year running I have been invited to be part of the judging panel on the annual International Visual Communication Association Awards; “the world’s largest and most prestigious corporate communication awards” (IVCA CEO, Marco Forgione). That said, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the time one of our clients booked Olly Murs and I was appointed ‘Olly-cam’ for the day, that was pretty special.
In my eyes the opportunities are endless; If you’re prepared to welcome every opportunity with open arms, show enthusiasm for what you’re doing and work hard, someone will remember you and more importantly, take a chance on you.
Lotty McWilliam, Production Manager/ Editor – Eon Visual Media Ltd