What was your first big break into the industry?
I regularly checked the websites of some of my favourite production companies a few months prior to graduating from university. When I saw Tiger Aspect advertising for a Drama Runner on PB, I knew I had to give it my best shot. One written application and two interviews later, and feeling I’d flunked it, I got a call whilst at my graduation ceremony to tell me I had got the job.
You’ve worked on a lot of great BBC dramas including Sherlock and Merlin – what do you enjoy most about working on location?
Often the production office works from a central location, and supports the production and crew from there. So I find it’s important to get out to location when I can, to speak to the crew to get all the information I need to do my job. It also brings a refreshing change from the four walls of the office, and it’s great to see everything you’re working for coming together.
How long have you been a production coordinator at Keo Films?
I have worked at Keo for exactly 2 years.
Have you always wanted to pursue a career within the television industry?
I studied Marketing at university, however I always had an interest in media. My first job was a production secretary for a broadcaster in Glasgow and I’ve never looked back since. I love the film and TV industry!
What preparation did you do for your interview at Keo?
It’s always important to do your research – that meant reading up on what Keo’s flagship programmes were, and recent commissions. I spend a lot of my spare time watching documentaries, so I believe it helped I had a passion for this genre of film making Keo are known for.
Pioneer creates a lot of factual and ob doc programmes with quite fast turnarounds. How important is it to keep up to date with the news?
It’s really important – obviously so with fast turnaround documentaries about very recent events. But it’s also important to keep up to date with current affairs in general, and advances in scientific research and theories. It’s important to have a holistic approach to this, as ideas can be generated from many different, often at first glance unrelated, events in the news.
You recently transmitted a doc about the Oklahoma Tornado. How did you go about gaining access and incorporating sometimes sensitive content?
As Pioneer have long made programmes about such events and the science behind them, we have strong well-established relationships with scientists and experts in the field who often work very closely with authorities in the aftermath of such disastrous events. Most professional and expert entities involved in such events are keen that people are educated about such phenomenon so gaining access is usually relatively easy (though not always!). We ensure our production crews are sensitive, and experienced in dealing with sensitive subjects, especially when communicating with people who’ve suffered first hand. We also have a responsibility to ensure we are always factually correct and work hard to ensure experts in the field can approve of what we say.
You have been at Endemol for a number of years. How has your role of Talent Manager evolved in that time?
I started in HR at Endemol in 1999 and one of my first jobs was typing response letters to people who had sent in CVs! Technology has moved on drastically since then, and we now have an online database, so that’s been a big improvement. I would say that the role has become more challenging over time, because the talent pool seems to have shrunk and it seems harder to find available people that fit the bill.
How did you become a Talent Manager? Was it a chosen career path?
I started as HR assistant and my role evolved into a Talent Manager role. Having studied psychology at University, working with people was hugely important for me, so I feel very lucky to have this role.
We understand that have a new addition to the Samwell-Smith household – congrats! Your time management skills must come to the fore?
Yes, indeed. As a mum of three, you are constantly juggling and good time management skills are essential! Some days can be challenging, but with a good support network anything is possible. I do think mums and dads make great employees, as they are usually very focussed at work and used to getting things done quickly. Parents are constantly problem solving, and those skills are particularly useful in TV.
How did you start working in the HR department at ITV?
I originally applied for a position as an Assistant in the HR Pensions team on the ITV careers page and worked within ITV for a year before moving into the new in-house Recruitment team as a Co-ordinator, to support a new team of six.
Is talent recruitment a career you always wanted to pursue?
Not initially, as I didn’t really know what it entailed. However, since joining the in-house Recruitment team at ITV I love talking to and meeting people, which is the key part of the job, and as a result I would like to develop my career further within recruitment.
How many job applications do you get through in an average week?
Each Recruitment Manager looks after around 20-25 roles, and on average we receive anything between 30-400 applications per role.