In this edition of Word of Mouth, we talk to Grierson-shortlisted Series Producer & Series Director, Colin Rothbart, about his career highlights, including a six-year self-funded documentary project, enjoying the locations on Holiday, and catching slugs for The Big Breakfast.
How did you first become a filmmaker, and what would you say was your first big break?
I definitely took the long hard route, as I didn’t know anyone in the industry. From the age of 16, I’d done unpaid work experience at The Sun and Time Out in my school holidays and then luckily got a job as a hospitality runner at TV-am, making tea for everyone from Kylie to Thatcher. This would have been great if it had lasted – but TV-am lost their franchise six months later! So I suppose my first big break after studying at uni and doing a Journalism postgraduate degree was as a Runner again on The Big Breakfast.
You were shortlisted for a Grierson Award for your self-funded documentary, Dressed As A Girl. How did that project come about?
That was something I did in my spare time over six years. I had many friends on the alternative arts scene in East London, so one of them said we should be documenting this for posterity – so I did! But with no funding and a full-time job, it took a while to come to fruition. In the end, the fact it was filmed over six years meant the storylines had much more substance. It’s played around the world in film festivals and is currently on Netflix.
We’ve got more top speakers lined up for the latest in our series of sold-out Turn On, Tune In events at The Hospital Club this Thursday! Find out more about LittleRock Pictures’ Ralf Little & Zoe Rocha and Lion Television’s Nick Catliff & Stuart Elliott. We’ll be taken behind the scenes of their ground-breaking shows, and find out a few of the secrets of their success!
Ralf Little & Zoe Rocha
LittleRock Pictures was launched in 2015 by actor Ralf Little and executive Zoe Rocha, in partnership with Sky Vision. Prior to launching LittleRock, Zoe was COO of Sprout Pictures, where she worked as comedy and drama executive producer on several projects, including Emmy award-winning Sky 1 comedy Moone Boy.
Ralf is a well-known actor and writer who was cast in acclaimed comedy The Royle Family at the age of 18 and has since taken on many acting roles, including long-running BBC Three sitcom, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps and Factory Records biopic, 24 Hour Party People. He has also written and starred in series such as The Ralf Little Show, and Sky 1 comedy The Café, as well as penning a one-off episode for the Sky Arts Playhouse Presents strand.
In this edition of Word of Mouth, we talk to Drone Camera Operator, Will Davies, on how the drone revolution is changing the way TV is made, and what the future holds for the technology.
How did you end up becoming a drone pilot?
Technology led me into it – having always been someone who dives into new technology at the earliest opportunity, when the aircraft started hitting the professional mainstream market, I put a toe in the water. A vast amount of flying experience later, and an even vaster amount of money spent on new aircraft to keep up with the demands of TV and film production, and here I am today – four pro-aircraft and about sixty batteries that need constant charging.
What are the main advantages of using a drone over more traditional aerial filming?
This is a great question, because for a while production crews were using drones in place of helicopters because of the cost savings. The beauty of using drones now is that everyone can afford to add that extra dimension to their production – independent companies have us available on tap, and by the day if necessary.
But by far the best thing about using an experienced drone pilot is that you can (for example), have the drone film a chase on foot through a multi-story car-park, through trees, or other awkward spaces – something a helicopter would never have been able to do – and also there’s no running out of tracks, no cranes, jibs, or dollys required. Just a huge amount of flexibility and quick-turnaround shoots.
In this edition of Word of Mouth we talk to Development Producer, Charlotte Davis, about her career in TV, eating doughnuts with Chicago cops, and easing Jimmy Nesbitt into a wetsuit!
What made you want to pursue a career in production, and what was your first job in TV?
I graduated from Glasgow University with an MA in Film, TV and Theatre studies, but I never wanted to get into telly really. I wanted to be a football journalist, but after a few months doing just that at the Daily Record, I realised just how tough that was. I got very confused. I was RUBBISH!
So, instead, I lucked out. I got a place on the Carlton production training scheme, and spent a year making a magazine programme called Shift for the (now defunct) Night Network. Heady, awesome, brilliant times. Alex Menzies (now a commissioning editor at C4), Anne Mensah (Head of Drama, Sky) and Asif Kapadia (ruddy well Oscar winner), were all knocking around the Carlton CPU at the same time. None of them return my calls now though (ha ha ha!).
We’ve got two more top speakers for our latest sold-out Turn On, Tune In event at The Hospital Club tomorrow night! Find out more about Tiger Aspect’s Head of Comedy Entertainment, Andy Brereton, and one of the UK’s most innovative producers, Gary Monaghan. We’ll be taken behind the scenes of their ground-breaking shows, and find out a few of the secrets of their success!
Sheffield Doc/Fest returns from tomorrow, featuring its usual mix of inspirational doc screenings; lively discussion panels and in-depth filmmaker masterclasses. We pick out a few of the highlights from this years festival, which runs from 10-15th June:
Screening: Where to Invade Next, Michael Moore
Where to Invade Next is a 2015 American documentary written and directed by Michael Moore. In this politically provocative comedy, Moore confronts the most pressing issues facing the US today, and travels around the world looking for solutions in foreign methods. The film will premiere at the festival’s opening night on 10th June, and will be followed by a Q&A with Michael Moore. Read more: http://bit.ly/25LIynb
In this edition of Word of Mouth we talk to Producer and Series Producer, Silvia Sacco, about her work on shows including Italy Unpacked, and the BAFTA-nominated Art Of… strand.
What is a typical working day for you as a series producer?
That depends which phase of the production we’re in. At the very beginning, reading a lot and meeting possible directors, and meeting with the commissioners to understand what they expect. In the middle, scripting with the directors, talking to possible contributors, working with the researchers, fixers etc. Then on location (I am on location most of the time) while filming, following by viewings in the edit and also fully editing at least one of the films in the series at the end.
You graduated with a master’s degree in Philosophy & Ethics. What made you want to pursue a career in filmmaking?
Good TV is the best tool to democratise culture! There is no point in studying a lot if you are going to spend the rest of your life keeping it to yourself or communicating it with only a few people from a similar background.
Tonight at The Hospital Club we’ll again be joined by some great speakers from the telly world, for our latest Turn On, Tune In event. We’ll be taken behind the scenes of their ground-breaking shows, and find out a few of the secrets of their success!
Our first speaker is Karen Smith, Managing Director of leading independent production company, Tuesday’s Child, which launched in 2012 and specialises in entertainment and popular factual formats.
Want to know about the latest events in the industry, but want someone else to do the hard work? Well we’ve obliged, with the first in a regular series, looking ahead to a few great production events, big and small, coming up over the next few weeks.
Networking for Creative People
Taking place at the BFI’s Mediatheque on 24th April at 5pm.
An informal networking event offering a space for inspiration and networking for creative people. There is no admission fee for the Mediateque, but the networking event will charge a small fee of £1.
More info: http://bit.ly/1WdOxdJ
This year’s RTS Programme Awards, long considered the gold standard of achievement in the television community, took place at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London this week.
In partnership with Audio Network and hosted this year by Richard Madeley, the awards celebrate excellence across all genres of television programming, with prizes in twenty five categories. In honour of another year of outstanding British television, let’s have a closer look at some of the big winners.
The winner in the Documentary Series category was The Romanians Are Coming, produced by Keo Films for Channel 4, which beat competition from Reggie Yates’ Extreme Russia and The Detectives.
With the number of immigrants rising in the UK and laws changing around the possibility of work, this documentary series explored the lives of Romanians trying to make a new life in Britain.