A little bit about my way into TV and a lot of advice for anyone else wanting to get in.
Okay so I’ve just spent the last six months trying to get my foot in the door in the world of television, it’s finally happened and I want to try and pass on as much good advice as I possibly can to everyone graduating this year.
Just briefly though I’ll tell you what I’ve done up till now to get myself into TV. After graduating in September I did two weeks work experience with Wall to Wall Productions (Who Do You Think You Are?, New Tricks) and worked in their development team assisting producers coming up with ideas for TV shows.
After that I was lucky enough to be among 80 people chosen from over 400 applicants to take part in a Skillset funded scheme. The scheme involved a day’s training with media professionals and then from that group of 80, 40 were chosen to apply for six month contracts with TV production companies. I managed to get an interview with Objective Productions (Peep Show, Derren Brown, The Real Hustle), the interview went well but competition was high and I missed out, however Objective offered me a two week work experience placement.
I then found an advert for an intern job with the BBC for a role in entertainment development. I applied for it, got through the application stage and then did a day’s workshop. I managed to get through that stage and was invited to an interview. I then got a call saying they had whittled their choices down to two candidates and I was one of them, but because they could only employ one person they offered me the job in six months time (when the current contract would run up) so I accepted.
In the meantime, in February, I did the Objective Productions placement and thoroughly enjoyed it. However after those two weeks I was back at square-one trying to get a job. I was lucky enough to get a call from them in April inviting me back as a full-time runner.
So now I’m in the fortunate situation where I’m working with one of the best Indies in London till July and then I’m going to be working for the BBC afterwards. It’s been a crazy six months, a lot of stressful situations, lots of application forms, lots of sitting in the job centre but it has paid off massively!
I never thought I would find myself working for a great production company and more excitingly I never thought I’d get into the BBC this soon.
Right, so that’s my story but I want to pass on some honest advice and tips for those of you hoping to get in TV this year. Firstly get yourself some work experience as soon as you can! My mistake was not spending my summer breaks doing placements with TV companies, I really should have (instead I went travelling, which to be honest I have no regrets over) but make every effort to get yourself a work experience placement with a production company. Also be aware than many production companies will only give work experience placements to those in education, so if you were hoping to do a placement after finishing university you will find it more difficult to find a placement.
I would also recommend checking out Skillset’s website as they occasionally run schemes which can result in employment, also check out a thing the Media Guardian run along with Edinburgh International TV festival- they run a scheme called The Network which offers paid placements to applicants, Channel Four are also running a similar scheme. I would also recommend getting hold of a magazine called Televisual; try and find the back issue where they list the 100 most successful production companies in the UK. It’s a great resource because it gives you the website and phone number of the biggest production companies which makes it a lot easier to apply to them for jobs. Needless to say check BBC and ITV’s website regularly for jobs; also get yourself onto www.mandy.com and www.grapevinejobs.com.
For those of you wanting to get into film I would suggest checking out Working Title; they take on 3 interns every year so it’s worth applying for those positions when they come up. If you know anyone working in TV then make sure you get them to help make you contacts, it’s a lot easier to get a job if you know someone who knows someone. I randomly ended up going for a job interview with Talkback Thames just because I was an extra on a TV show and met an assistant producer in the green room who suggested I contact his boss about a job. It’s probably going to be situations like that which will help you get your first job.
I hate to say this, because I got so fed up of hearing it when I was a student but, getting into TV is not easy. Just so you know there will be a lot of application forms, a lot of un-answered emails and job applications and there will probably be quite a few interviews until you actually get offered a job. It will test your confidence and your spirit (especially if you have to sign-on at the job centre as well) but if you stick at it and are ambitious enough then eventually it will work out, but it will probably take longer than you think.
That all said though I graduated in the middle of the recession and, as I said, I didn’t have enough work experience behind me. If you’re slightly better prepared, then the whole process should be quicker for you.