This is my first blog post for a while – and in that time a lot has happened! I’ll quickly run through my life since Uni via a few links to previous blog posts, then bring you up to date with where I am currently, followed by a few hints & tips for current students.
For example, attend events like Meet the Graduates – I wish they’d had this back in my day! It’s a good chance to compare and contrast people who were in your shoes quite recently and figure out the direction you want to take. I graduated from Media Production in 2007. I was fortunate enough to immediately find work with Interflora British Unit as their in-house Video Producer. See this blog post I wrote at the time about what my work for them involved. It was also during my time at Interflora I was offered a 2-year contract on a KTP scheme, here’s an overview of the project by Neil Kendall, who was the academic supervisor. In August 2010 the KTP contract came to a close – but, as with many KTP Associates, I was offered a permanent role within the organisation, working at Interflora as an employee, as Video Producer. I had finished the Management Diploma that’s included as part of the KTP and received my certificate. However, I was still working on the MA by Research. More on that later! During my time at Interflora I was involved in a number of big projects including a live webcast from the Chelsea Flower Show and ran a recruitment exercise to bring on board a Video Production Assistant. We appointed Daryl Boyden, who is still working at Interflora, and doing a great job currently as Video Producer.
In August 2011, I decided to leave Interflora and seek a new challenge as a freelance cameraman and editor. This was a tough decision, especially leaving a permanent role and a salary to effectively go fend for myself, but I was confident through a combination of new and existing contacts, I would be ok. Having sorted out things like buying an editing laptop and software, business cards, website, showreel, camera hire, tax, etc… I was on my way. I found initial work mostly came from existing contacts; this was enough to sustain me for the first couple of months. I also signed up to a number of recruitment agencies, including Kelso Jones, based in Nottingham.
Having signed up and being added to their database, told Kelso about the freelance work I was seeking (mostly editing on Premiere and some After Effects work), they shared my details with local organisations that regularly employ freelancers. This led to me making contact with a company called Linney Design, a digital design agency part of the Linney Group based in Mansfield, who had some potential editing and camera work to offer me. I was invited for a quick meeting with their MD to talk about my experience and see if I could help them out. This discussion suddenly became a more full-on job interview, and before I know it I was being offered a permanent role as an in-house camera operator, editor and producer. Linney Design was seeing its film and multimedia portfolio expanding and I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time. So after about 5 months as a freelancer, a time in which I enjoyed working on a variety of projects and managing to earn a bit of money, it was back to a permanent contract. I have now been working for Linney for over a year, during which time I have worked predominantly on a weekly 10 minute news-style programme for Royal Mail, as well as occasionally various ad-hoc films for a variety of clients. My work can range from filming pieces to camera, conducting interviews, to editing footage for news broadcast (I’ve had my footage used on CNN in America, CCTV in China and all major news channels in the UK) to filming horses grazing in a field on a freezing cold February morning, for example!
I am fortunate enough now to have worked both client and agency-side, and feel this experience is valuable in the role I have at the moment. I enjoy the variety of shoots in particular, travelling and meeting some great people. As a multi-skilled producer who can shoot, edit and deliver the final output to the client, I enjoy taking ownership of a project and seeing it through from start to finish. Whilst I (like many) considered a career in TV as I started the Media Production course, I am happy with the direction I have taken, given the creativity, budgets and opportunities are just as good within online syndication and narrowcasting.
Outside employment, I mentioned earlier that even though my KTP had finished, my work on the MA hadn’t, and indeed work on this would continue for another 18 months after the KTP came to an end. After coming close to giving up a number of times, perseverance (and encouragement from Ann Gray, Barry Ardley and my family and friends), I finally finished the thesis, passed the assessment (on the second attempt) and graduated in Lincoln Cathedral with the MA this January. It was a fantastic feeling to get there and have the qualification under my belt. I feel this will serve me well in later life in particular to separate me from the crowd in this still very competitive job market.
So, ahead of Meet the Graduates on 22 April 2013, a quick list of tips to current Media Production students, based on the above:
– Attend events like Meet the Graduates, I wish they’d had this back in my day! It’s a good chance to compare and contrast people who were in your shoes quite recently and figure out the direction you want to take.
– Do extra work alongside your course if you can. This will particularly help in building a strong CV and showreel to start promoting your skills as soon as you finish your final year studies.
– Form a good network with your peers. I still collaborate with a number of fellow students on various projects – the course itself is a great networking opportunity, something you can start to do now. Finding a group of like-minded people to work with after you graduate could be really valuable.
– Don’t get obsessed with working in TV. I know there are still opportunities there and it’s the right career choice for many, but maybe thinking outside the box could be rewarding –opportunities to produce high quality film and video, and earn good money doing so, can crop all over.
– Go to film festivals. I went to one recently, a showcase of adventure films – so nothing like I make for work, but came away feeling inspired. Plus you never know who you might meet.
– Start thinking about a website and showreel as soon as you can, so you can start to get your name out there. It is competitive, but those who show the initiative, have something different to offer, will get there.