TV & Me with Nickelodeon’s Will Poole

TV & Me with Nickelodeon’s Will Poole

This week we talk to Will Poole, Head of Production, Creative Services at Nickelodeon UK.

Where did your career in the industry begin, did you always want to work in TV?
Ever since childhood, watching Doctor Who from behind the couch and Star Wars 47 times, I’d wanted to work in film and TV. I moved to London following an MA in TV Production, naively expecting to coast directly into a Production Management role. Having sent out numerous CVs and pounded the streets, I got a break as a runner and then tape op, patching machines for duplication work. Whilst this wasn’t exactly my skill set it was great training and an excellent introduction to post-production.

What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome whilst trying to make it in the TV industry?
I’d say that one of the largest hurdles is making those initial contacts. I think the TV industry is very much about relationships – the more people you know, the more opportunities are likely to come your way. Like many people, I entered the industry with no contacts. Let’s just say the media infrastructure around Harlech in North Wales is not as robust as in other locations. I joined The New Producers Alliance which was a great way to meet budding film-makers and greatly enabled me in producing my first short film. Sadly that institution is no longer with us. My advice to those starting out is to get out there, meet people and make stuff – join as many online film and TV networking groups as possible.

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TV & Me with Producer/Director Paul Vanezis

TV & Me with Producer/Director Paul Vanezis

This week we talk to freelance Producer/Director, Paul Vanezis.

Where did your career in the industry begin, did you always want to work in TV?
I had a fascination with television from as far back as I can remember. I used to love fantasy shows such as ‘The Tomorrow People’ and ‘Doctor Who’ and wondered how they managed to create the illusion of different planets and of course, I loved the monsters. So I managed to get onto the Film and TV course at Newport Film School in South Wales, before all the courses became ‘Media’. It was a practical course and we soon realised that we were learning by making our own mistakes.

In what ways has making TV changed in the time you’ve been in the industry?
The big change was the move to tape for location filming instead of film. Now it’s tapeless and HD and inevitably self-shooting. On top of that we have affordable desktop editing. We always had non-linear editing with film, but the post production process has been streamlined making true fast turnaround much easier.

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PB Live Careers Forum

Our 2nd Live Careers forum attracted a whole range of queries. Thanks to everyone that joined in – here are the responses so far!

The Panel

Paul Crompton

Paul is an experienced factual producer with 20 years’ work in TV. Executive Producer and Co-owner of Barge Pole Productions, Paul’s specialties are popular factual television, observational documentaries, formats, legals, scriptwriting, dramatic reconstruction, pitching and development.

Nicky Searle

Nicky is Talent Executive at NBCUniversal International Television Production, looking after companies as diverse as Carnival Films, Monkey Kingdom and Chocolate Media. Prior to that she managed talent for Optomen Television. She has been in the industry for nearly twenty years working her way up from her first TV role as an unpaid intern at MTV Networks.

Paul Merrick

Paul is an experienced Producer/Director with over 12 years specialising in observational documentaries and factual entertainment, including extensive self-shooting. Creative and highly motivated, he’s dedicated to making great television across all genres and passionate about storytelling.

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.

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TV & Me with Writer/Director Hugo Blick

TV & Me with Writer/Director Hugo Blick

This week, we catch up with 2012 BAFTA Television Craft Awards winner, Hugo Blick, as he discusses past success, Marion & Geoff, how he got his break starring in Batman, and winning that all important BAFTA for Director of BBC 2’s The Shadow Line, proudly sponsored by ProductionBase.

You’re career began as an actor and you famously starred in Tim Burton’s Batman, playing the young Jack Napier, who killed Bruce Wayne’s parents and later became the Joker. How did you’re career as an actor aid you in becoming a successful director?
Marshalling a film crew is quite a military sort of thing but acting in front of a camera and all those people is really quite delicate. If you haven’t experienced that exposure it’s easy to not recognise just how vulnerable an actor can feel.

Was it an easy transition to make, did people take you seriously?
A loaded question there! First thing, I take actors very seriously! But you’re right to the degree that acting and directing are very separate talents and one doesn’t necessitate ability in the other – although Clint Eastward appears to have made a pretty good fist of it!

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TV & Me with UKTV’s Helen Cooke

TV & Me with UKTV’s Helen Cooke

This week we talk to Helen Cooke, UKTV Commissioning Editor, Entertainment.

Where did your career in the industry begin, did you always want to work in TV?
Even though I’ve always been a TV addict, media studies was not widely available at degree level when I was younger, so I never really considered it as a career option. I did Mechanical Engineering at university and thought I’d go into banking after university or similar, but that all changed when I first saw Channel 4’s Tourist Trap. I just thought it would be such a fun job to be able to make TV shows like that. So I set about researching the types of shows that I’d like to make, and who made them. During this time I sent my CV to a local weekly regional debate show called “Central Weekend Live” as I always enjoyed the late night punch ups. I got a try out as a researcher for 4 weeks and the rest is history!

You’ve worked on some landmark entertainment shows like XFactor and Come Dine with Me, what do you like most about working within the genre of entertainment?
All television genres are about telling stories. I think entertainment just does this in a more innovative and noisy way. Also, it’s great to handle the bigger scale budgets as it means you have more to play with as a producer and can attract bigger talent. What really excites me are brilliant, simple entertainment formats. Come Dine with Me is an example of this and it came out of ITV Studio’s Factual department, so it also shows how broad entertainment programming is – it’s a great place to be.

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TV & Me with Self-Shooting Producer/Director Toral Dixit

TV & Me with Self-Shooting Producer/Director Toral Dixit

This week we talk to freelancer Shooting Producer/Director, Toral Dixit.

Where did your career in the industry begin, did you always want to work in TV?
I started my working life as a photographer, then later trained as a journalist. I studied photography at Salisbury College of Art. I then began working as a photographer for the British Airports Authority, before becoming a freelance photographer and subsequently, a journalist. TV was so far from my mind – not remotely something I would have considered. Even being a professional photographer was, culturally, very different for an Asian woman.

My TV career began in hospital TV, which works a bit like hospital radio. Harefield Hospital, (then, the leading heart transplant hospital) had a traditional ‘hospital radio’ setup, plus a very innovative volunteer hospital TV arrangement. This ‘broadcast’ short docs and hospital news to the hospital wards via cable. It was staffed by some very dedicated TV professionals. They taught me loads and allowed me to write and direct. From there I managed to get a work experience placement at the BBC as a researcher on Open Space (a community program) and so started my long and illustrious (joking!) career in this industry.

What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome whilst trying to make it in the TV industry?
I suppose the biggest hurdle for me was trying to get employers to see me beyond what my ‘Asian’ background brought. My BBC work experience wasn’t ‘Asian’ related, however the subsequent programmes I worked on needed someone with in-depth Asian knowledge – getting away from that into mainstream was hard. Plus, I was clear on the type of programming I didn’t want to do. This industry is so all consuming, that unless you love the work you are doing, it can be soul destroying. So, holding out for the right job brings its own challenges, especially in the early years when income as a researcher doesn’t stretch that far. I was able to perfect my waitressing and office temp skills during that period!

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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.

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TV & Me With Executive Producer, Claire Farragher

TV & Me With Claire Farragher

This week we catch up again with freelance Executive Producer, Claire Faragher as she discusses watching TV upside down as a child to producing one of ITV’s most successful Reality TV shows. Claire explains her obsession with TV.

Where did your career in the industry begin? Did you always want to work in TV?

I started out as a print journalist and then became a chat show producer at Anglia Television after applying successfully for a job advertised in the Guardian Media Guide. I had been obsessed with television as long as I can remember – I even went through a phase of watching television upside down (don’t ask me why – I was a child and it added variety!). So when I thought about progressing from my job as a newspaper reporter, what appealed most was using my journalistic skills for television. At Anglia TV, I also made fly-on-the-wall docs and magazine shows for a number of different channels, before joining the BBC, where I downgraded and trained up eventually as a Producer/Director before moving onto being a Deputy Editor and Series Producer.

What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome whilst trying to make it in the TV industry?

Possibly getting my first break as a director. I feel that strong producers or journalists can be viewed as one trick ponies who are not very visual or can’t work across different genres. When I finally got my chance to direct and then PD it was nice to thwart such views and also get stuck in in the edit, where even today it’s nice to still be surprised with what you can do.

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