In our latest Expert Q&A we talk to Series Producer, Donald Clarke, about his career in TV.
How did you get started in the industry?
My very first gig was on an adaption of Channel 4’s Wise Up for the SABC in South Africa. From there I continued to work on international formats as they were adapted for South African audiences. I then got an opportunity to Series Produce on the prime-time series, Survivor, which is a hugely popular format internationally.
I then founded my own production company which I ran for 10 years before being headhunted to join the production arm of BBC Studios in Africa, Rapid Blue, as an Executive Producer and Commercial Director. Since moving to the UK I have enjoyed being back in production roles.
In our latest Expert Q&A we talk to Art Department Stylist, Thor Mrozek, about his career in TV.
What does the role of an Art Department Stylist involve, and what does a typical day look like?
An Art Department Stylist is essentially an On Set Dresser and the role can be interchangeable with that of an Art Department Decorator or Prop Master depending on the budget of a production. In my case I have worked primarily with Greens (plants) and background aesthetics.
There are seldomly typical days as often, any given day can produce unforeseen challenges whether working in a studio or on location. Liaising with the Production Designer or Art Director has often been the norm and when neither are available, I’d consult an Assistant Art Director or simply work off an initial brief until otherwise directed.
When on location doing a set dress or being on standby, the first port of call is usually with the Locations Department to ensure logistical needs are met. The only typical aspect of the role are the long hours, especially when on standby, however this can sometimes be balanced out when striking a set.
In our latest Expert Q&A we talk to Series Producer/Director, Sean Doherty, about his career in TV.
What was your first job in TV?
I first started as an Editorial Assistant at Sky Sports back in 1996. I had been working as a Radio Journalist in the North East/West for the BBC and ILR covering news and sport. I had also played national league/international ice hockey and Sky were covering the Superleague. I wrote to them and I couldn’t believe how lucky I was when they offered me a job.
My first day was an OB of a hockey game in Basingstoke. Fifteen cameras live on Sky Sports. They told me to just sit at the back of the scanner and watch. I was mesmerised and in awe at how so many different things were happening all at once and yet it all seemed to come together so smoothly.
Sky Sports was a wonderful training ground. They encouraged you to grow and take on new skills and it wasn’t long before I was directing single camera shoots and producing edits. Jerry Logan, one of Sky Sports pre-eminent Directors, was a wonderful mentor and by the end of my third and final season he had me directing the match coverage. Thankfully with a very experienced Vision Mixer!
In our latest Expert Q&A we talk to Edit Producer, Emily Cumming, about life in the edit: building characters, dealing with Execs and the move to remote working.
What was your first job in TV?
After a stint as a Runner for a small indie in Brighton on a youth magazine show for ITV Meridian, I was lucky enough to be taken on as Production Co-ordinator when a vacancy suddenly opened up. I’d been working in theatre before that, so I had some transferable skills and a bit of life experience. As well as doing all the usual Production Co-ordinator jobs for the magazine show and the other arts series the company made, I’d run off copies of rushes for logging, drive the weekly TX master tapes to Meridian TV HQ, and swing a boom on location. I was able to get a real feel for what different jobs involved across the board as it was a small office and you could see and hear everyone doing their work. It was a very auspicious start and I’m supremely grateful that I got it!
In our latest Expert Q&A we talk to Writer/Director, David Skynner, about his career to date, including BAFTA wins, interviewing Gary Numan, and starting out on Aliens.
What was your first job in TV?
My first job in TV was also my first as a director, on The Bill for Thames TV, but by then I had already been working in the industry for ten years, partly in features and also making corporate films.
My first proper production job was after I left The London Film School, when on graduating, the school found me a two-week attachment to the AD dept. on James Cameron’s Aliens. I got on so well with them I ended up staying three months and moved on to the creature shop for another two months, when Stan Winston saw a painting I’d done for a film school production. It was a very exciting film to work on, very very long hours though as I’d be in at 6am to open the dressing rooms and as the film slipped behind schedule and the days got longer, I often wouldn’t leave until 11pm.
In our latest Expert Q&A, we catch up with Series Producer and Edit Producer, Julian Dismore, on his career to date, including falling off a volcano, being bitten by snakes, and going undercover.
How did you get your big break, and what was your first job in TV?
After graduating from Uni, I went into the careers office and naively asked where the ‘TV jobs file’ was. Once the career officer had stopped laughing, she told me that Yorkshire TV had called that very morning looking for a Researcher for the ITV Science Department.
I applied for the job and was invited for interview, but noted the address down wrong! Consequently, I turned up late and thinking I’d blown it I joked my way through the entire interview. The interviewer found me funny and pretty much on the spot he offered me the job in front of the other 84 candidates for the post!
In this Expert Q&A we talk to Self-shooting Producer/Director, Marc Knighton, about the importance of getting to know your contributors, keeping up with the latest tech, and the challenges of filming in A&E.
How did you get your big break in TV, and what was your first job?
I was fortunate enough to gain a place on a BBC graduate scheme, which allowed me to work across a variety of programmes and genres, everything from Watchdog and Panorama through to The Hairy Bikers and Children in Need. One of the highlights was undoubtedly the Ronnie Corbett Christmas Special, working with such talented people, both in front of and behind the camera was a real treat, though I think I failed on the tea making front as they all started bringing in thermos flasks with them after a few days…
With camera technology forever changing, do you feel the need to be up to speed on the latest kit?
Without a shadow of a doubt! Technology has evolved so quickly in the past few years that once you’ve mastered one camera, along comes another. Seven years ago my first camera was the trusty Sony Z1 which used mini DV tapes and most recently, I’ve tried my hand at using Sony’s latest 4K camera. At the end of the day, you have to really know your cameras inside out. This is especially important for self-shooters as using the camera needs to be second nature so that you can concentrate on the characters and action in front of you.
In our latest Expert Q&A we talk to Director and Producer/Director, David Whitney, about his career to date – working around the world on TV, film and branded content projects.
How did you get your big break, and what was your first job?
My first job in the industry was working as an Assistant Grip on a low budget feature film in the late 90s. I was still a teenager and it was all very new to me, in fact I thought it was crazy – lots of grown ups shouting at each other, people crying on set, tantrums, numerous affairs… but it was great fun and didn’t put me off.
I knew I didn’t want to work on the technical side of things, so I took a job working as a Production Assistant at a well-known film company. One thing led to another and in my early twenties I got the opportunity to direct some corporate jobs, then TV commercials.
In 2005 I directed a short film, which led to my nomination for BBC New Filmmaker of the year, and from that I began directing TV drama, as well as more ads and branded content. After festival success for my short film, George’s Day (starring actor Michael Byrne), I raised the finance for my debut feature, which was released around the world and picked up by Netflix. This has led to countless other opportunities shooting all over the world. It’s been a fascinating ride!
In this edition of Word of Mouth we talk to TV & Film Composer, Jim Hustwit, about his career to date – creating scores for major broadcasters, understanding the director’s vision, and writing for the bin.
What is a typical working day for you as a composer?
The expected response might be, “lounging around in my pants procrastinating”, but I start the day more like an entrepreneur than a creative layabout. Exercise, meditation and a hearty breakfast before I hit the studio to get creative.
I like to do my idea generation at the beginning of the day. So I’ll just sit at the piano or with a guitar and play around with ideas. Hopefully inspiration strikes and I start to hear an idea in my head so will try to translate that in to a rough recording. I believe in writing for the bin. i.e. being prepared to throw away ideas. It takes away some of the pressure and fosters a more creative environment.
You have a background in investment banking and marketing. What made you want to pursue a career in music production?
I’m an idealist. I believe that if you are going to spend 80% of your life working, you have to do something you love. Banking and marketing left me somewhat unfulfilled.
Music and film have always been my passions. As standalone art forms they are incredibly powerful. When effectively combined they are even more so and for me that is a way of connecting with people and hopefully moving them in some way. Combining the two professionally became my focus.
In this edition of Word of Mouth we talk to Edit Producer and Producer/Director, Farrah Jaufuraully, about the joy of working on kids TV, the creativity of the edit, and the perils of working with animals.
What was your first job in the industry?
From the age of 15, I dipped in and out of work experience: I worked at my local radio station, had a stint on BBC Watchdog when I was at university, and then took on a summer job as a Runner for a west London film company. Two months after I graduated, I was offered a Researcher job on a Nickelodeon show.
You’ve worked on some of the UK’s most popular programmes. Which would you say has been favourite to work on so far?
Tough question. I’ve really enjoyed the shows where you genuinely help somebody make a life change and you go home feeling like you did something useful. Shows such as Embarrassing Bodies and The Joy Of Teen Sex were series where I played a part in solving people’s problems. Equally though, I enjoyed TOWIE and World’s Most Talented because I loved my team, and going to work was a joy.