PB Live Careers Forum

PB Live Careers Forum

Our Live Careers forum attracted a whole range of queries. Thanks to everyone that joined in – here are the responses so far!

The Panel

Richard Nash

Richard has over 20 years experience in documentaries & factual entertainment for UK and international broadcasters. Career highlights include The Secret Millionaire, Come Dine With Me, World’s Strictest Parents, River Cottage, Jamie’s Great Britain and Fabulous Baker Brothers.

Toral Dixit

Toral is an experienced PD self-shooting on DSR / EX3 / XF305. Career highlights include: BBC (Last Man Standing, Tribal Wives, Skin Deep, Desperate Midwives), C4 (Dispatches), Discovery (Hard Labour), ITV (The Making of a Royal Wedding), C5 (Motorway Madness), National Geographic (The Return of the Clouded Leopards) and Living (Rehab).

Royston Mayoh

Roy is a Director/Producer specialising in entertainment, chalking up many successes over a 48 year career as a writer and innovator of original formats for BBC, ITV, C4, BskyB and FIVE. He directed Catchphrase and has also worked as a college lecturer. Royston has a wealth of knowledge and can offer excellent advice to new entrants.

Joe Mahoney

Joe is Managing Director of ProductionBase. Prior to joining PB, Joe spent a number of years at BBC Worldwide as a senior commissioning editor, before moving on to Channel 4 to become their Head of Commercial Development.

The Questions

Q:  For the past year I’ve been working as an online producer (basically a web editor, who works a bit with online video) for a broadcaster. My ideal role would be for a multi-platform/digital department of a production company, and I know that more and more indies are placing importance on their online remit but I rarely see these roles advertised. What do you think is the best route? Starting off with traditional entry level roles (e.g. researcher) and then later choosing multi platform as my speciality? Or just desperately knocking on the door of every production company with a dedicated department asking if they have any positions available?

RM:  It’s great that you already know that your ideal role would be for a multi-platform/digital department of a production company. The truth of the matter is that if you wait for a vacancy to be posted then you could wait longer than you wish.  As you have already been working as an online producer for a broadcaster, I should imagine that via your everyday work, being a member of PB and reading your trade papers that you will, by now, have amassed a contacts book of the sort of production companies that might, sometime in the future, need such a post, but haven’t yet got round to actually doing something about it. Don’t wait for a vacancy to pop up, make some contacts and suggest to them that when THEY decide to open a multi-platform/digital department that YOU are the one they should contact. You may well get a nice surprise, and it was YOUR idea.

TD: You don’t mention what you would like your role within multi-platform / digital companies might be. Is it in Production or Post? I would suggest that making programs for online market or broadcast via TV are similarly about good editorial content and high production values. I see that you are a recent graduate, and so would suggest that you learn your ‘craft’ along a traditional route (researcher, AP etc) and then once you have more experience under your belt, then work towards online…. unless of course you already have plenty of contacts within the online world that would allow you to apply your skills and learn on the job within the online market. I think it would be easier to move from traditional TV to online then the other way round.  You could of course write your goals in your covering letter – targeting both Production and Online companies.

RN: I’d suggest approaching broadcasters as well as production companies – they’ve got big digital departments. A lot of indies have to deliver web content, but it’s often just any extra task a series producer gets lumbered with near the end of production. I wouldn’t suggest the normal runner, researcher route – you can probably move sideways.

Q: I graduated from university where I did a non media degree in Environmental Geoscience. I have since been trying to get involved in TV production and have been struggling. My aim is to be involved in documentaries and I love the work that Richard has been involved with. I have done some unpaid internships – one of which I am currently doing at the moment to gain some experience so people will take me seriously. I am happy to start at the bottom of the ladder but I am really struggling to get that first paid job foot in the door. I can only get unpaid work at the moment, not for want of trying to find work. I have sent numbers of emails, walked door to door with my CV and applied for entry level jobs. The competition is strong and will my lack of media degree and limited 6 month of experience I am struggling to find someone who will give me that first chance. Is there anything you would recommend to help get that first step up the ladder?

TD: I had a quick look at your profile – you don’t mention whether you have any technical skills – for example – do you self shoot. If not, then I would get that sorted – it’s a must nowadays – for researchers etc. As for the companies you have done work experience with them… do you stay in touch… I would regularly phone them…hassle them…they owe you now) Write to the makers of programs you particularly liked…praise is always appreciated. Other than that, I’m afraid it’s about keep knocking on doors – at some point one WILL open.

RN: Thanks Hannah, You have specialist knowledge, which is a real asset, so make use of it to set yourself apart from other people. Target science producers, whether at production companies or broadcasters and mention programmes in this area that they’ve made that you have watched and liked (if you missed them at the time, there’s always 4oD or YouTube! Lots of entry-level people target the same few big production companies. You will have less competition if you cast your net a bit wider and it’s worth thinking about getting some bits of experience in other areas of TV that will again set you apart as a post-production runner or a runner in a facilities house. You shouldn’t do work experience in one place for too long, but what you are aiming to acquire are skills and recognized people who will vouch for you. Do PM me for a more detailed if you like.

Q: I’ve been directing TV commercials for a number of years now, quite successfully. But I want to move into TV and am finding it hard to persuade people to give me a chance. I want to direct TV drama ultimately (and have just made a short film which I hope will help) but I’m struggling to get the first few TV credits that I think will really help. I’m happy to go in a bit further down the ladder, or come at it from a different angle if it helps. Do you know anyone who has made this transition or have any ideas how to go about it?

TD: Your CV looks impressive enough – are you selling yourself well enough? Do you mention in your covering letter that you are an award winning Director for instance? I would research companies that do Drama docs and re-constructions… I would step down to AP to learn the doc side of the programs (for only a couple though), before moving up to Director. I think that making short films yourself (as a showreel) to show you can follow narrative is key. Have you thought about getting an agent? Not sure exactly how that works as I make Docs – but I know a few Directors who successfully straddle both commercials and dramas and they have agents.

RN: I was just working with an ad editor on a TV project that needed a particularly distinctive feel. There’s also quite an overlap between directing TV ads and directing TV promos, which would be one way to start the move across. With factual TV, they sometimes bring in ad people for new series that need to make an impact. I’d suggest a mix of getting together a great ad showreel, getting your short seen by as many drama producers as possible and trying to forge personal contacts. Richard

RM: I can quite understand why you or, for that matter, anyone, will find it hard to persuade HOD’s to give someone new a break- there are just too many risks and too many people keeping their heads above water without adding to the already enormous ‘risk assessment’ list. If you have been directing commercials then you will know all about ‘keeping on message’ ‘less is more’ ‘cut the waffle’ and a thousand other relative Maxims (apologies to Ernest and Gerry!). The fact is that YOU must persuade future employers in the way that you already know. Make a commercial about yourself, selling your innovative, creative, and entertaining talents in your own controlled environment. If the decision maker gets the impression that you could be of benefit to his/her Drama department you WILL get that call.
If you can’t sell yourself using the technology, creativity and skills that you wish to demonstrate to the TV execs then, unfortunately, you will wait a long time. If you really believe in yourself then you will take the initiative and not even think about taking a step back. You don’t get prizes for trying- only succeeding.

Q: I’d be grateful for some quick first impression feedback on my profile, and I would like to ask you what is your survival strategy for the winter months when there is typically less work?

TD: Just looked at your profile. On first glance I would say there is not enough info on the projects you have done – are they for broadcast …TV or online… how long are they – do you have 30 & 60 min experience …can you edit on FCP as well as Avid?

JM: Just had a look at your profile and would suggest a few instant changes: You have nothing in your About Me section – this is the bit you must use to talk about yourself and what you can offer an employer. Keep each paragraph brief (2/3 lines) and to the point. Your Employment History is hard to read – add more detail about who you worked to, a brief line on what you did, when the show broadcast and on what channel. Take out the short course you did on your Education section and add them to your About Me. I’m more than happy to go through your profile over the phone at any point.

RN: I reckon your about me section should be less abstract e.g. offline editor with x years experience of cutting y sorts of projects on AVID and on-line editor with z years experience on these kinds of projects. I think a simple explanation of your main credits would help too. There’s been a bit of a run on editors in recent months, so I think you will be able to get work soon. There are some great editing agencies out there, but you can also approach companies directly – I know a fair few PMs who have been tearing their hair out due to the non-availability of decent editors in recent months. In winter and in quiet periods generally, it is worth scouring the listings for smaller companies and it can be worth spending a month or two working on corporate or educational videos – there are far more of them around than some people think and the pay and budgets are sometimes better than prime time TV! As well as production companies, there are also obviously all the facility houses.

Do you agree that the market is over-saturated in media? I think it depends on the discipline but on average there seems to be 100 people for every job (on all job sites)? Is there anything that can be done, short of working for free?

RN: In some ways it is, but if you choose to specialize in a particular area of TV and get good at that particular skill, it is a sustainable-ish career! Dubbing mixers, graders, DoPs generally aren’t short of a few bob and if you are good at a particular production skill – development, casting, writing comm, directing – you can do fine. I think only work for free for very short periods of time with a specific goal in sight. Also, you can’t just passively sit on job sites – you will get some calls, but you need to approach people directly with ideas and enthusiasm.

Q: I’m in my final year studying Television Production – Technical Arts at Middlesex University. I am trying to find work experience that allow me to be assisting the camera department, as I want to take the camera operating path after I graduate. But I’m finding it hard to look for work in this particular area. Could please help and give advice with getting into a trainee/assistant/shadow position with the camera department of a production team.

TD: The traditional route was learning the industry through facilities houses – then assisting on shoots – this is harder to do now – not many facilities houses supply crew… and you run the risk of getting stuck in the facilities industry…it is however a great way to learn all about camera’s and you will get to go on some shoots. My advice is that in all these areas that are heavily / oversubscribed, you need to get ‘out there’ and do it… make short films… get a showreel ( beyond college work). Once you have a decent showreel get in touch with companies who have a lesser budget and get work as a DV Director, from which you can then get work as a cameraman / woman. This will show you understand about editorial as well – it’s no longer just about shooting, you have to have an understanding about Direction also.

Q: What would you suggest for a composer who isn’t at the bottom of the ladder, but still needs more contacts to grow. Is it simply a matter of going to trade shows and festivals and talking to people or is there something else I can think about? ProductionBase seems like the wrong kind of place for composers generally. Any advice would be appreciated.

TD: Sorry but I don’t think I am going to be of much help here. I don’t know that much about the music industry work. Have you tried Musicians Union and other Composers for TV for advice? Whenever I have been asked to commission music I get recommendations from friends in the industry… I don’t know how these composers got started…sorry!

Q: I recently moved from Germany to the UK and looking for a job right now. In Germany I was working as Production Assistant/Production Co-Coordinator in an independent TV Production Company. I’ve got 4 years experience and my company was producing an international TV show. I find it quite difficult to find a job in the media right now and would like to ask if you have any advice for me?

RN: There’s a demand for multi-lingual production staff on international productions e.g. for channels like Discovery Europe. I’d consider identifying companies who do these and getting in touch.

TD: Your Profile says nothing at all about you! It’s not enough to expect employers to open your CV – which I’m afraid I didn’t. You have to make things as easy for employers as possible – make them want to see more detail as covered by your CV. That Said, I would (obviously) make the most of your language skills and German broadcast experience – find out who makes programs for the German Market and try to use that as your entry. In addition to your language skills – what other skills did you gain … big those up…This industry is about making yourself stand out in a crowd – and I’m afraid your profile doesn’t do that.

Q: I’m an Avid / FCP editor with 20 years experience cutting a mixture of broadcast and corporate work. I’m keen to find work in London; I’ve been with Production Base a few months but no joy finding work yet. I have accommodation I can use in the city and my main credits are in long-form factual. I’ve contacted most of the big agencies but had little feedback. Are there any other contacts you guys can suggest please?

RN: There’s a big demand for editors at the moment. Contact the talent managers at all the Indies you can and ensure you’re registered will all the companies’ individual websites. I’d also contact facility houses directly and also consider approaching corporate production companies.

TD: Just looked at your CV – impressive!  I see no reason why you don’t get work – do you mention that you are looking to move to London – I wouldn’t. It’s not necessary, and it may make the employers think that you will charge over the odds as you need to cover London rental as well as home.  Have you uploaded a showreel online, such as Vimeo? I would cut and paste this link to your covering letters and target those companies which do similar work to you. It’s not enough to just have agencies- you must also be proactive in looking for work. The Broadcasters as well as companies. As with all the the other replies – it’s about getting out there…but I expect that with all your experience – you already know this…good luck

Q: Like Guy above, I am trying to change careers. I have about 8 years of experience as an advertising copywriter, have written on travel and history for magazines in India, and worked for a local TV channel in Chennai, on a 3 primetime shows – mainly writing scripts for on-air promos, but also lead-ins for the presenter.  Additionally, I have an MA from the Bristol U in Archaeology for Screen Media. I have the skills for TV, but not necessarily UK broadcast credits. Like the others here, I don’t mind working my way up the ladder, but how do I transfer, so to speak, my credits from advertising and TV in India, to the UK?

JM: You need to make your profile more concise and concentrate on the one area you want to work in as at the moment, you appear to be a jack of all trades (magazines and advertising). Your script writing for a local TV channel and primetime shows are solid credits and you need to give as more detail on these as you can.

TD: I have looked at your profile and what jumps out is that you are not clear about your role . You start by saying that I am a writer etc… I would start by stating that you are an AP – with experience of writing etc etc. Then go on to indicate your experience / transferable skills so far in Indian TV. Your Credits are also varied…it’s not clear what you would bring to the table in terms of working as an AP. Perhaps with so much variety you could group them in terms of ‘working roles’, rather than chronologically?

Q: I’ve been a Factual TV Editor for 3-4 years. I’ve done documentaries for Discovery, BBC and Ch5 and a whole heap of short form work for companies like Sony and Red Bull. My passion is narrative drama, and I want to move into this professionally. I’ve edited a number of shorts that have shown at major Festivals, and two indie features, and I think I have a decent catalogue of work. My question is this: What is the best way to approach a post production company, and leverage my factual experience into working on dramas?

TD: I wouldn’t just approach Post companies but would target Production companies themselves. I am often given Editors CV’s by my PM’s – so approaching them directly really does pay off. Target those companies who do the type of work and make sure your covering letter really does ‘sell you’ to the best (can’t stress enough just how important this is – this is the key to make people want to know more)… include a link to your online showreel.

Q: Instead of reading everyone’s questions and replies I thought I would use my membership and ask a question. I graduated from Film Studies last year and ever since I have been trying to find some work that I can do in film or television production. I regularly apply for various positions of various length and wage. However I am very aware that If I don’t work then I won’t be able to make rent, so I stick in the same job I’m in, receiving emails about jobs that last 3 weeks to 3 months. I want to work on production and do so for a living, but do you have any more advice for me rather than keep trying? Is my CV rubbish? Is my profile a bit weak? I have applied for a fair few jobs, but only ever had one interview which I missed out on due to my lack of camera experience (it was in the Kit Room at the Met Film School). Any advice you can give me will be a real boost.

JM: You mention applying for various positions but don’t indicate what they were. I’m hoping you’re aware that you need to start at the bottom regardless – runner roles, are of course, the best way in. I noticed on your profile that you mention working on certain productions (for example E4) but you don’t say in what capacity and what the programme was. Its essential to get this stuff down as you’re clearly doing the right thing but simply not getting it across to a potential employer. Also, make use of your 3 mins of media allowance so your work is instantly available with your profile instead of directing someone to another website (which, in most cases they won’t go to!).

TD: Your ‘about me’ section here – and I suspect in you CV, needs to be stronger. Its not important that you live in Stratford – but is much more important to give exact details of the skills you learned at college (which is missing on your profile). Your credits also need expanding – you have just one listed. I would list all the films you made within college and after leaving – clearly stating your role. I would also decide on your goals – a production assistant is very different to camera trainee. Don’t worry at this stage about short contracts – I know its hard financially – but it allows you to get experience quickly. TV is made up of a mix of long and short term contracts – I will often take a short term contract to tie me over or if its the quiet season.  Its a hard industry… its not going to be easy , but if that’s your goal you will need to keep plugging away

Q: So how important is a showreel nowadays, on-line or other? I’ve been producing/directing for over 20 years (which to be honest is a problem in itself) – I’ve never had/needed a showreel before. Am gathering stuff now and making a start on FCP, but it’s difficult after having worked on so many shows…

RN: People used to ask for showreels all the time and it was a right pain updating mine all the time, but for the past few years people mostly want me to give them whole programmes. I found that if I did a fast-cut, flashy showreel, they’d think it could be hiding a multitude of sins in the actual shows. I have got a Showfolio on the site and it probably helps a bit. I used to include some older clips I was really proud of (even some stuff on film), but people told me it made me seem about 107! I’m thinking of gathering together a number of separate clips and putting them on one site rather than updating my current reel , which is a couple of years old now.

JM: Production Managers that I’ve spoken to do value people’s showreels. It’s an instant reminder of the programmes you have worked on and the quality of the production. My suggestion would be to put together a 2/3 min clip of your most recent work.

TD: The answer is…CRUCIAL! I too have 16+ years experience on shows that are well known enough to need no explanation / introduction, but I get asked for my showreel all the time. My CV contains a link to my online showreel and I often include it in my covering letter.

Q: I am a freelancer has been working for just over 2 years in film. I have a lot of experience in shorts and features in varying different roles, as well as corporates and TV. I want to make the transition to documentaries but I am finding it hard. I’m sending out CV’s via email to production companies and following up with phone calls. Is there more I can do or can I assume that even the small companies want people with a at least 5 years experience heading their sound department? Can anyone give me feedback on my profile?

JM: Can’t go into too much detail here and would be happy to chat with you offline, but what I would say, is that your credits are not in order – always start with last production first and go back from there. Your Credits section needs more detail – asking people to look at your CV instead implies to me that you couldnt be bothered to finish it! Fill out your Employment History – this is very important to a potential employer – list the people you reported to, the show worked on and the channel that broadcast it. You have also left out the Skills and References section – fill these out! Also, your Permits section just lists countries but says nothing about the actual permits you hold!

TD: I have looked at your profile and it looks fine but I would include a few specifics about your projects in the blurb about me (eg: my experience includes working on ***; +++ and ***). Also, I would not ask employers to look at your CV – they won’t! I would use this space to add something like: Variety of work including etc, etc. – full details on CV).  You could break your experience into Genres – TV, Corporate, Films etc…with TV and Film at the top. If you want to work in TV, then target those companies that could utilise the experience you already have – try dram docs (suggested this earlier for someone else) – or companies that feature some of the areas

Q: Please help, I would like to be a freelance VFX artist for film and/or television, but feel I’m looking in the wrong places for consistent work. I have built a really good reputation with all those who I have worked for, but sadly most of the work has been low or no pay, although things are, I feel, now getting better. I have a full membership with PB, and when I search for “VFX” or “Special Effects” I always come out on the first page of the search and I have three showreels on it. BUT… Nobody is looking for my skills, the only profile views have been for the odd job that I’ve applied for but hasn’t really been my field of work.  My website is www.MickBahler.Com (please don’t think I’m putting my site as a plug) where you can see my showreels credits and testimonials, but I just can’t find regular work, and must say I’m growing tired of doing so much free and consistently low pay work.

TD: I’m sorry – but this once again is a specialist area that I am not too familiar with. I am sure you must have targeted those companies that do the type of work you do and I would find similar professionals within those companies and write to them to see how they got started. I would suspect that its much like any other area of this industry – sell yourself well, get experience on lower budget projects and show examples of your work … can’t really add to that. Do you have specific specialist skills with your VFX… can you specialise?

JM: There are some great credits on your profile so you’re doing some things right! I would say however, that your profile starts badly – never direct people to your website as your opening line about yourself like you have done on your About Me section – busy production managers simply won’t go there! You need to add and fill out your Employment History detailing where your work was broadcast and who you worked to.  Also, you have made good use of the media upload function with your work but you haven’t titled/credited anything.  As per my other comments on other people’s profiles, I’m happy to discuss this in more detail offline.

Q: I spent some years working in education as a lecturer in media and film. Unfortunately I was laid off last year (sign of the times) but because I had previously worked at the BBC as a researcher and AP I was able to call a few people and picked up some freelance work with a digital sports channel. That work has curtailed in recent months (budgets?). Over the years in education I kept my hand in as a film maker by writing, producing and directing a number of short films. In addition I have extensive experience working with drama scripts as a reader and report writer for UK film script agencies and I have also worked in development with US actor / writer Laurence Fishburne whilst in Australia. I must be honest and say I am passionate about scriptwriting for film and TV but have been unable to get a breakthrough in this area despite my experience and talent. I have what I consider to be a wealth of experience, good production skills and a great deal to offer employers but I am finding it incredibly difficult to attract the attention of producers and production companies. I have applied for lots of jobs on PB but have not been followed up. My fear is that I am seen as someone who is not serious about media work because of my CV having holes in it, so to speak, namely my time in education, but I see this as another level of experience and know-how with lots of transferable skills. I attended the recent PB ‘how to make the most of the service’ seminar and revamped my profile but without success. I need to know how to improve my chances of at least garnering some interest and maybe some interviews. Hope you can help.

RN: You’ve got great experience, but I reckon you could have more luck with your profile if you cut it down and whacked readers over the head with your impressive work with Fishburne and some credits. People have so little time to read through CVs and profiles, I reckon trying to sum up what you’ve done in TV in the space of a Radio Times billing (60 words or less) is the main thing. The educational background should actually help – there are lots of projects, including lots of corporates, where that’s key. Also, you can stress your scripting credentials. It might be tough getting high-end drama scripting work, but there’s also a big demand for strong, fast writing on programmes of most kinds, whether it’s a fully VO’d factual script or a rescue attempt on a reality show that’s gone wrong!

TD: I have looked at your profile and my first thought is that you have to read a fair bit before we learn your key skills – you need to shout about this right at the top : Ie .. a producer director and experienced writer with experience of education etc. I would target companies that make educational content… they should snap you up…there a few key ones that make programs for C4learning and open university… if you want to work in other areas , this will at least give you some breathing space. Once again, target those companies that have a drama element to the program content – even educational content often has reconstruction elements…

Q: I’ve managed to get bits of work experience throughout University and since graduating but I’m finding it impossible to get a paid position. I specifically want to work in Film and I have an internship lined up in April with quite a big British Film/TV company but I’m determined to get something paid afterwards. As I don’t live in London I have found it hard to get enough CV building experience because I have to spend my own money supporting myself through the duration of any placements. I am also wondering if this works against me when I apply for jobs because a lot of companies might prefer people with a knowledge of areas in London or someone who can start straight away (rather than having to relocate.) I’ve tried contacting production companies who have projects coming up but the timing often seems to be wrong and having looked on sites such as Call Box Diary it’s obvious that even when trying to get freelance runner positions the competition is very strong. I was hoping someone might have some advice or can point out what I’m doing wrong. Just to make it clear I want to work in production, starting out as a runner/production assistant and then hopefully working my way towards producer.

RN: Well done on the internship. Getting bits of work experience is also a very good thing to do during your course. There’s a lot of competition in London and it is a very expensive place to live (especially with no income!). I’d consider other cities too. There’s lots of drama in Cardiff, arts in Glasgow, children’s and other stuff in Manchester and factual in Bristol – there’s much less competition, it’s easier to get to know people and costs are lower. Also, the internship should help enormously – you’d have to hope there’s a decent chance they’d take you on at the end or, at the least, help you find something else.

JM: At first glance of your profile, you say you have had ‘gained experience in various production companies…’ but you fail to list them and what you did with each of them! This is a shame because you’re clearly getting out there but not getting it down where it counts – on your profile! Add as much as you can to your Employment History section. When contacting a company, make sure you do your research on them – don’t take a scatter gun approach. If approaching a company that specialises in cookery programmes, then demonstrate your knowledge of their output.

Q: I am from the UK but I have been working in the media abroad for many years (Australia and South Africa) and now I’m trying to break back into the UK industry and finding it quite tough. I produce/direct/script for factual programming but have worked across different genres in the past in various roles as I have tried to climb up the ladder. Do you think it is off-putting to employers that a great deal of my work is from companies abroad that they might not recognise? I am not sure if I should apply more for assistant producing roles while I try and prove myself within the uk industry and work back up to producing? I just want to get stuck back in to a genre I love and actually would be happy with just getting involved any way possible.

TD: I would use your ‘about me’ to highlight that you have international experience for broadcasters which include Nat Geo. and would highlight your specific areas of expertise (which transcend international boundaries!). I would target companies that produce the type of work you have experience in. I don’t think it’s necessary at your stage to drop to AP. just a question of banging at those doors, and selling yourself to the best advantage. Don’t try for High Profile jobs just yet, better to get you foot in the door with ‘lesser’ projects

Q:  I graduated in November and since then have produced and edited a few videos as seen in my showfolio. The problem is the majority of these have been unpaid and so I am looking to get paid work, preferably in a permanent position. I’ve been applying mainly to junior editing/cameraperson-type jobs and was wondering if you have any advice for my showfolio? The reason I don’t have a showreel as of yet is that I’m working on a couple of projects that I think could really add to the reel and would prefer to wait in order to pack a bigger punch with all of them in. Is this the wrong thing to do? Showfolio can be found here: http://www.pbshowfolio.com/adrianpermatascanlon

JM: As I have mentioned in my previous replies to recent graduates, its great you have a clear goal in what you want to do but you’ll probably have to start a tad lower down the scale. Again, runner type roles are a great way in to what you want to do. A nice showreel will help as an aid but really, before you get people wanting to view it, it’s better if you’re getting experience simply working with a production team. When you get a spare moment (once they have complimented you on your great tea making skills) you’ll get a chance to talk about what you really want to do…and then show off what you’re capable of doing once you have that captive audience!

RN: I definitely wouldn’t wait – get some more work and credits while you work on the reel in your own time. Junior editor/cameraperson is an ideal combination for doing taster tapes – all development teams need these, so you are marketable. Also, your client list is impressive on paper – BAFTA, Olympics etc. Often people will meet you first on the basis of a letter/CV then ask to see examples of your work.

Q: I was wondering if you could have a look at my profile and CV. I am looking for a job as edit assistant or freelance FCP editor and various technical positions in post-production facilities but with little luck thus far. I do not have a showreel as my credits are only interviews and not fancy promos/commercials. I have also applied for tech runner positions which could potentially lead to edit assistant positions. My understanding is that I am lucking in technical experience in VTR or MCR technology. Any suggestions how I could get my foot in the door? Would training courses be an option?

JM: Well, you’ve made it easy for me: you haven’t got one! Most of your sections are blank so please get cracking on filling out the key parts. A clear idea of what you actually want to do is a good start and I know you won’t have much experience to date, but any unpaid and voluntary work would be very useful to mention.  Get in touch again when you’ve got as much as down as you can and I’ll take another look.

RM: A good showreel need not be about fancy promos/commercials. If you have only done ‘interviews’ then do something ‘creative’ with the images from those interviews. Your creative juices should be flowing at the prospect of thinking ‘out of the box’ and regarding ‘interviews’ as ‘images’ to be manoeuvred into whatever context you wish. You will have the exact same problem about getting your ‘foot in the door’ if you take on further training courses! Make your mark NOW, and let post production houses know that they would be daft not to give a break to someone who can take boring mid shots and do something interesting with them!
It sounds as if you are putting ALL the blame for not finding a suitable footing on your CV and Showreel. Sorry Daphne but could it be YOU that is doing more hoping and not enough doing?

Q: I am a trained Journalist who became an Event Producer on large-scale events as broad-ranging as Glastonbury, to Wembley’s Arena’s Culture8 and the Melbourne International Art Festival. With experience managing production budgets (in excess of $2 million) and technical drama-set design/build/rigging – I have a background in the high-profile international events sector. Making a successful TV break as an AP (Self-Shooter) and Researcher on two factual TV documentaries for SBS, Australia 2010-present. I have found my calling. Passionate about factual research and film, I am keen find a job as an AP (Self-Shooter)/Researcher in the UK. In the longer-term, I am driven to gain enough experience to be able to step up as a Factual TV Director. Can you advise me on the best way to approach my career in the UK? Can you advise me on how a diverse background in journalism (2 yrs), event production (10 yrs) and now Australian TV research (2yrs) will be considered in the UK? Does the UK TV industry frown upon Australian TV credits?  Or, does the industry discount transferrable event management skills? – as I’ve had little interest in my PB profile and 10 x AP applications so far.

TD: I think you need to make a decision about which area you want to develop… A production assistant route will not get you to Producing, but will direct you towards the Production Management role. There are people who do make the transition from Prod Management to Producer – but its not really productive if you are just starting on a career path – better to hone your skills at the start. I have looked at your profile. You need to be specific about the skills you gained at college and subsequently… for example the films you worked on – what was your role – did you source contributors – secure locations – etc? Your opening paragraph needs to reflect these office skills as transferable skills- ie ‘good office skills’ can be a transferable skill of a ‘very organised individual used to working in a busy environment using X, Y and Z skills). Do you have examples of your work…it doesn’t matter if not – you are just starting out, keenness and a willing demonstrable ‘can do’ attitude is more important. I looked at your Profile..looks good but I would use this part of your profile ( and CV) to highlight key skills you have learned on these production. Good to mention a few good credits in this opening paragraph, but then move onto what skills / expertise you have…journalism is a BIG PLUS… as with all journalism – think of pyramid writing – the most relevant info at the top, with lesser important info as you move down. While events organizing is very interesting, and demonstrates your organisational abilities, it is not as relevant as – say, making editorial judgements or sourcing contributors…all of which i expect you have done in your TV career to date.

Q: I recently moved to London and am keen to get into TV, in particular documentaries, and to eventually be a producer. I’m unsure how to sell myself due to my experience, and also unsure of what positions to apply for. I spent two years in the Lake District filming and editing corporate videos. I have mostly been applying for runner work down here as I imagine the work in TV will be different in many ways to the corporate video work I’ve done, so I don’t feel I can jump straight in mid-career-ladder down here (I am also self-taught and worked mostly alone so have reservations about trying to get work in a studio environment at a higher level as I will be unfamiliar with the daily operation of things). However, I have been told at a few job interviews that with my experience they thought I would be applying for a more senior position. So I worry I’m being dismissed for runner jobs because they think I’m over-qualified. Should I go for more senior positions? I know I have the experience and confidence in the job role, I just don’t feel confident in myself with regard to knowing the ‘lingo’, how it all works in TV etc. Where do you think I would fit into a company with my experience?

RN: I think you’re quite right to want to get a good grounding in how things work rather than blagging your way into a position where you’re not quite confident, so doing a runner job at a studio or a production company is not a bad idea at all – it’s often possible to move up quickly, especially with your skills and experience. do bear in mind that there are runner jobs where you are just a dogsbody and have little chance to move up or learn anything and other runner jobs where you absolutely key to the whole production.

Q: A couple of questions. I’ve been working as a Researcher for about eighteen months but as my roles have been quite varied (factual entertainment, specialist factual, development, online) I’m now finding that there’s always someone with more experience in any one particular programme area that I’m applying for and I feel I’m being viewed as a jack of all trades. Any tips on how to overcome this and do you think I should be looking to specialise? Also I’ve just been commissioned by Radio 4 to produce a 30 min doc, but I won’t be recording this until later in the year due to TX dates. Should I be mentioning this now on my CV and how I can portray this as a strength without worrying companies that I’ll need to disappear to take on this project (as well as the fact that it’s in radio). Any tips on my profile would also be useful.

RN: I’d sell your varied experience as an advantage. Like you, I’ve always enjoyed working on a mix of genres and used to worry about being a specialist, but in fact so many programmes now are hybrids that having varied credits is a massive advantage – eg I recently did a current affairs doc that needed a fact ent approach and, if you’ve done both, you’ll be ahead of people who’ve only done one. Also, do mention your radio doc -impressive stuff.

TD: For fear of sounding like a stuck record… I have looked at your Profile and once again, I dont think you sell yourself.  Your opening paragraph doesn’t actually state what you can do! for example – you have experience of TV and radio – great… skills you have include sourcing contributors, researching archive, arranging shoots, working on international commissions etc. having varied experience is a good thing… but highlight this and include the transferable skills these have given you. I would mention the Radio commission – but make it clear that date is later in the year tbc…make it much later, as I expect that current contracts wont be longer than 10 weeks.


Q: I’m a freelance shooting P/D and edit producer, based in Scotland. My main interest is obdocs and arts-based documentaries, but I find it a real struggle to get regular work, so I end up doing a bit of everything. Is this just how the market’s working at the moment, or is there anything I can do to get more of the work that really interests me? Also, I am a shooting PD, but for the last year or so I’ve been edit producing. I have shot on cards, but it seems there’s been a sudden and complete switch away from tapes recently and I’m worried my shooting skills will look dated. Any advice on this?

TD: Your CV looks fine… you are doing the same as every other PD out there in an overstretched industry. It will pick up soon.  That said, not having tapeless experience is a handicap. If you don’t have access to tapeless equipment, to train yourself – I would strongly advise attending a training course. I have not shot on tapes for a while now.

Q: I’ve been in the broadcasting sector for several years, primarily working in radio as a BJ for the BBC World Service, Asian Network, BBC Manchester, specializing in factual programming, religion and ethics, race relations and news. I graduated from SOAS years ago with a degree in The Study of Religions and have been exceptionally fortunate to work in a specialism I thoroughly enjoy. Having wanting to make a transition into television, I’ve recently just completed my first network contract as an Assistant Producer on C4 series 4thought.tv. As a hijab (head scarf) adorning Muslim woman, I tend to find many production companies/broadcasters unwilling to look beyond this notion which tends to hinder any chances of being employed. Last year I attended an interview with C4 and was told by the exec producer that I “wouldn’t fit in with the all white team because of the hijab’. Or that I was “too Radio 4”, or “academic” for her liking. It seemed not only my faith was an issue but being intelligent was also a crime!  I’d love to continue a career in television documentaries and investigative journalism for the likes of Dispatches, Unreported World, Witness just to name a few therefore would like to ask the panel’s advice on how to do this without being pigeon holed? After all my work should speak for itself and I happen to be very good at what I do. I’ve considered pitching my own ideas, but am very aware few ideas get the green light – still I’m determined to get them out there.  Your advice would be appreciated!

TD: I was both saddened and angered by your post… in this day and age of diversity it is shocking to see such blatant discrimination. Reading your post – have you applied to BBC Manchester – it wouldn’t hurt to drop a line to Tommy Nagra or Aqil Ahmed. Looking at your profile..you need to elaborate on your duties for each of your credits…. did you source contributors, did you go on recees, fact check – what is your expertise…. do you self shoot – if not, I would strongly recommend learning! At This stage – don’t worry too much about the ‘Muslim pigeon hole’… it gets you much need experience. A lot of the companies that do produce this type of content do also Producer the Dispatches, Panorama and other Current Affairs strands – they will not hole this against you as they will already know you. I too am Asian and got my first few gigs as a result of the ‘specialism’ I could bring… I was then able to reduce the amount of importance on the cultural bias for the key skills each project gave me. Companies like Quick Silver and others DO have a lot of middle east / Muslim related content and I would target those to give you a shoehorn into the industry. Have you also contacted the Diversity Managers at the major channels. They are all signatories to the Cultural Diversity Network (CDN) and joining this group can lead to work.

Q: I’m a DP and camera operator based in London. I recently moved here from New Zealand where I worked for a number of Weta companies. I DPd and operated promos and shorts while at Weta. I have a problem in that allot of the material can’t be released because of strict studio contracts, so I’m hesitant to put them in my credit list. I’d really appreciate you looking at my profile and suggesting any improvements. It’s hard moving to a new place with little contacts in the industry. Is there anything you suggest I do to help get more camera operating or DP work in the UK?

RN: Don’t worry, there are loads of Kiwis who’ve established themselves quickly in British TV and I remember working at facilities where almost the entire workforce were pretty much straight off a Middle Earth shoot! I’m not sure Weta is as well known as it should be as a name in London, but its productions are. I understand how strict big feature clip rules can be, but I don’t think that should stop you putting down credits, which look stupendously impressive. It’s worth putting in some more everyday stuff too, as unfortunately, there aren’t that many Hobbit-sized (in terms of the budget rather than the creature) projects in the UK. So, being able to say you can shoot on blockbuster movies, but you’ve also done say prime time cookery series or ob docs would be handy.

Q: I’m a shooting AP who has a lot of experience (researcher and AP) working on specialist music documentaries, both in the Classical Music and Music Entertainment departments at the BBC. Most of my contracts over the last 4 years have been around music in these two small departments. I’m worried about pigeon-holing myself and concerned about how to go about getting work again outside of the BBC (and outside of music documentaries) when I’ve had such a long time away from the Indies.  I love working on music documentaries and I’ve been lucky to have a lot of work from them over the last few years, however there is not always work and I feel like I need to spread my wings a little and expand my pool of work and contacts.  One of my first big jobs in TV was with an indie on an observational documentary series and I’d really like to get back into these kinds of docs, especially in terms of eventually progressing my career beyond being an AP. Do you have any advice either on how to tweak my profile/CV or suggest other approaches for making new contacts and finding contracts in the Indies with the aim of working in ob docs?

RN: You have done some great stuff. Your proven experience as a self-shooter both on complex international shoots and with demanding contributors should be transferable across genres, but you are right to act soon to avoid being pigeon-holed – it can make you vulnerable if a particular dept gets cut back or a genre goes out of fashion. Personally, I would suggest first aiming to work at a large-ish indie on a project that mixes music with other elements (eg something like The Choir), making an impression with that, then moving across to a non-music related ob doc project at the same indie.