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Tuesday, 2 October 2012

You never know what impact a simple 'thank-you' email can have down the line...

Here at Festival Towers we love hearing stories about great things our Networkers have achieved post-Edinburgh, and of course, it gives us a warm glow of self-satisfaction to know we've helped them.  One of 2012's Networkers was Will McDonagh. Will attended The Network straight after completing an English degree at Lancaster University.  One month later, he landed himself a runner's job on major BBC One drama, 'Prisoners Wives'.  Here's how he did it...

After attending The Network, I found myself with a clear focus and direction as to where I wanted my television career to begin, and ultimately lead to. This really helped me to improve my CV, and  gave me a confidence to talk about what it was that I hoped to achieve in my career. 

Before The Network, if I was asked what I ultimately wanted to achieve, often I would come across as unsure, purely because I always thought that people would see my ambitions as naive and unattainable. But speaking with so many talented and successful people through The Network, it was obvious that they had all started from exactly where I was right now - and if anything, they appreciated my drive and commitment to reaching my desired career goal. 

At the moment, that ambition is to become a Drama Television Producer as my main passion in life at the moment is telling stories, and through The Network I was able to work alongside some of those people currently working in that role in the industry, including Lizzie Gray, Producer, Waterloo Road (and one of the leaders of The Network's Scriptwriting and Directing Workshop). After a brilliant few days in Edinburgh I made sure that I stayed in touch with those people who I had met and who had inspired me, particularly Lizzie. 

Then, when I saw a Floor Runner position advertised with Tiger Aspect, I took everything I had learned from The Network, tailored my CV specifically to the job, told them all about where I wanted my career to go through Drama, and applied. A few weeks later, after I managed to find some short-term Runner and Logger roles with other companies to improve my CV, I got a phone call from Tiger Aspect to have an interview that following week. One of my interviewers was familiar with The Network, and was very impressed with everything I had to say about it. Not only that, but when I talked about people I had worked with whilst there - particularly Lizzie -  they were even more intrigued.

The following morning I received another phone call from Tiger Aspect - offering me the Floor Runner role! They told me that I was the 'wildcard' applicant, but they had followed up with Lizzie Gray and she had given me a very good recommendation!

This is the most important thing I learned from The Network. Everyone we met there has already been in our position when they started their careers, and they all appreciate what we are going through. The scheme itself is not about meeting people and impressing them enough in the hope that they will give you a job in the future - it is simply about getting your name out there. Getting advice from these people is much more beneficial than simply asking for work experience or job opportunities - the industry is so inter-connected that if you can impress someone with your passion and dedication, even if it's simply through the odd email every few weeks, then you are going to make an impression not just on them, but those people who they may come to work with in the future. The Network is an opportunity to make a countless number of connections.

I never appreciated just what a tight-knit industry television was - and you also never know, if you send a simple 'thank-you' email to just one of those connections made in Edinburgh, what impact that could have on you down the line. For all future Networkers, simply bear in mind that the connections you make in Edinburgh are much more valuable to you if you approach them with a slow-burn attitude. Don't be pushy with the people you meet, and ALWAYS reply to any email you get from them, even if it's a rejection email, with a simple 'thank-you'.

Since Prisoners' Wives ended I've worked on a new prime time drama for ITV called 'Love and Marriage'; worked on 'Coronation Street' and 'Emmerdale', both of which I have just signed freelance contracts for; a new Karl Pilkington travel series called 'The Moaning of Life' for Sky One; I worked on the recent Peter Kay Comic Relief sketch; and I have spent days on a new BBC Two pilot, a feature film for BBC One, and a commercial for Co-Op! So the past seven or so months since the Network have been incredibly busy!

The best moment so far was definitely seeing my name on the credits for Prisoners' Wives last week - I felt it finally solidified the fact that I'm now working in TV! I've also found that you never know where or who you're next job is going to come through. As well as my own team (AD's) recommending me for other jobs, I've even gotten work from Script Supervisor's, make-up artists, actors, and even vrivers'! You literally never know when a nice deed on set might come back and help you I'm the future - you NEVER stop Networking!

I wouldn't have secured my Floor Runner job had it not  been through The Network, which is why I believe it is an invaluable talent scheme for anyone wanting to begin a career in Television Production. And if you're not already thinking about applying - DO IT! This was my third attempt at applying, and it all couldn't have worked out better.

Will McDonagh @WillMac06

Congratulations, Will, and thanks for sharing all those top tips.  To get a taste of what Will and his fellow delegates worked on at The Network, check out the mini-episode of 'Waterloo Road' they made here: 

And if you're new to the TV industry and would like to take part in The Network yourself, check back here from February 2013 to find out how to apply!

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