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Thursday, 28 March 2013

I thought I knew what I was doing...

I thought I knew what I was doing but I found it all makes a lot more sense when you interrogate why you’re doing it... 

Not only do our Ones to Watchers get a free place at the TV Festival, but the benefits don't end there. We offer our alumni heavily discounted training and career development opportunities - such as this intensive two day course provided by DV Talent. 

Jennifer Shaw, Development AP at Boundless and Ones to Watch Alumnus 2011 shares her experience...

To be honest, I guess the main incentive for applying for the course was the special rate offered to the Ones to Watch alumni, but by the end of thisintensive two-day course I felt I'd consolidated my skills, improved my structuring and progressed my editorial abilities to the next level… I thought I knew what I was doing when it came to shooting and editing but I found it all makes a lot more sense when you really interrogate why you’re doing it. 
The all important camera check list
Day 1 began with a slightly unexpected activity. Instead of the usual straightforward introductions, documentary maker and course leader Kevin Hull sat us in the “Story Circle”. In very serious tones, he explained the first and second rules of the Story Circle (rather like Fight Club except less violent!). Our task- to tell one story to the circle about ourselves that was “true”- was harder than it first appeared but set us up for a day of challenging but valuable learning curves. Through the ‘Story Circle’, it was refreshing to learn that the group was made up of a real mix of backgrounds from an NHS Photographer and an Arts Charity director to a handful of GEITF Ones to Watch alumni. 
Searching for a story on the streets of Kentish Town

Next, we took the Canon XF305s out and about to source a true story on the streets of Kentish Town- an opportunity to hone shooting and directing skills. Back in the course HQ, the different ‘stories’ we brought back (from the chanced-upon street scene to the engineered coin-on-the-pavement trick) lead to a really  eye-opening debate about how to tread the thin line between production and reality… 
Day 2 involved several more rigorous story-telling tasks including shooting a story and editing ‘on camera’. It was a tough but great lesson in being really disciplined with what you shoot (although a bit of a shock when we realised we’d actually have to leave the safety net of behind the camera to stand in front of it for once!). What was particularly useful for me was the chance to review each others’ work and receive detailed and valuable feedback after every major task.  
Since attending the course, I now find myself repeating nuggets of wisdom I picked up over the two days- from how humans are thought to be genetically programmed to process stories to the fact that every story in the world is actually based on a handful of age-old narrative arcs. All-in-all an intensive and really worthwhile couple of days.

DV Talent is the UK's leading independent training provider and career agency for creative media professionals.  Visit their website for more training opportunities.

Applications for Ones to Watch 2013 are now open.  If you have been working in the TV  industry for 3-5 years, apply here.  If you know someone who you think deserves a Ones to Watch place, recommend them here

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

London Screening #3: Run

Olivia Colman plays Carol in Acme Films' new drama, Run

Our series of London screenings have so far caused collective intakes of breath and laughs aplenty, but this Monday’s Roundhouse audience were the quietest yet - utterly captivated by Acme Films’ new drama for Channel 4, Run. Set in south London, Run first follows Carol (played by Olivia Colman), a mother to two troublesome teenage boys. A random act of violence sets a chain of events in motion which underpins the whole series in a domino movement of cause and effect. This is a drama about the people you pass in the street, you recognise from the world around you, and how we’re all connected. Daniel Fajemisin-Duncan, one of Run’s two writers, explained that it offers ‘a glimpse into four of the different worlds that make up London’.

Fajemisin-Duncan and his writing partner, Marlon Smith, met at sixth form college in south London where they also befriended Jonathan Pearson, director of episodes 3 and 4. Having been making short films for a number of years, they’d originally set out to make Run as an internet drama, and approached Jaimie D’Cruz, owner of Acme Films, with the idea. That was five years ago. ‘What took so long?’ asked our chair for the evening, Neil Midgley. D’Cruz told the audience he put the project on hold and told the two writers to take their time. Not content with this, they went off and made their own pilot. Channel 4 read the script and it evolved from there into the bigger project that it is today. D’Cruz admitted that Channel 4 took a big risk, by investing in unknown writers, but he described the script as so exceptional it wasn’t surprising that the channel wanted to turn it into a primetime drama. Colman agreed about the script adding, ‘Women don’t write well for women at the moment. And a lot of people still don’t think it’s appealing to have a female lead’. So it was refreshing for her to play the part of Carol, written by two young men.

For the team behind Run, many of whom have been 
Marlon Smith and Daniel Fajemisin-Duncan
friends for years, there was a visible sense of pride in their achievement. They were ‘over the moon’ to finally see their project on screen. A member of the audience asked how they kept their motivation going for five years, and they admitted it was hard with times when they nearly gave up. But, as Fajemisin-Duncan explained, they had something to say and that became easier as people start believing in them.

So that concludes our London screenings series. And what a series it’s been! We’d like to thank all involved for making it such a great success. And eyes peeled for the next events!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

London Screening #2: The Job Lot

'Thank you for laughing’, writer Ian Jarvis politely added at the end of the evening. This hardly seemed necessary as the screening of episodes 1 and 2 of his and Claire Downes’ new comedy The Job Lot received a loud and lively reception from the Roundhouse audience on Monday. But for the writers of this comedy, their television debut, seeing strangers laugh at their jokes was clearly something to behold. ‘It’s nice to hear a live audience’s reaction’, Jarvis continued, explaining that they rely on their instincts as to whether something will get a laugh.

The panel take to the stage following the screening
The Job Lot is the work of Jarvis, Downes and Stuart Lane, who was unable to join us due in China (some people will do anything to get out of public speaking!). The set-up is simple – the action takes place in a job centre housed in a suitably grey block of a building somewhere in the Midlands. The centre’s staff are made up of characters we all recognise from our own office experiences – the jobsworth who is a stickler for procedure, the over-enthusiastic (but verging on the edge) boss, the couldn’t-care-less young office worker. And who knows what characters might walk through those doors, which is exactly what Downes admits drew her to the setting.

Sarah Hadland 
Following the screening our chair for the evening, Andrew Collins, was joined on stage by writers Downes and Jarvis, producer Hannah Pescod and the show’s two stars, Sarah Hadland and Russell Tovey. Downes and Jarvis talked about their inspiration (‘The line about swimming the Channel at the local baths is from my sister’, joked Downes) and the process of getting the series commissioned. After an initial knockback from their first script (which they weren’t bitter about, quipped Jarvis), a second go grabbed the attention of a lot of the major players and so began the talks (plus the wining and dining). With Big Talk Productions track record in comedies (Spaced, Rev), they seemed the obvious choice but sitting on a script of such quality meant production companies were vying for their attention. Downes joked that it was Big Talk’s biscuits that ultimately won them over.

Andrew concluded the evening by asking the panel about the worst jobs they’d ever had.  Tovey described life as a hairdressers’ junior washing old ladies’ wigs; Hadland spent two weeks as a magician’s assistant on a cruise ship (doesn’t sound so bad to us!); and Claire Downes earned £30 for two minutes spent provocatively draped over a tractor…. If that’s in her arsenal of inspiration then we can’t even begin to imagine what future episodes of The Job Lot might contain!

We still have limited tickets available for our next screening taking place at the Roundhouse, London NW1: 

Run  Monday 25 March
Premiere of Acme Film’s drama for Channel 4 and live Q&A with Olivia Colman

Information on how to purchase tickets can be found here.

Friday, 15 March 2013

I'm about to go live to the nation... thanks to The Network!

So what's it like working on the most iconic children's show of all time?  Hannah Salt can tell you.  She's a runner on Blue Peter, and her journey started at The Network!  After Edinburgh, Hannah successfully nabbed one of our Network at Work placements, and she was so impressive that CBBC subsequently offered her a job on the famous ship.  Hannah's taken a break from entertaining the nation's children to take us behind the scenes on BP and share what she's learned since The Network.

Stood in a cool dark studio behind the cameras, about to go live to the nation, I always feel a little electric crackle of excitement in the air as the gallery wish everyone a good show and countdown to live transmission. There is an undeniable thrill in watching a show you’ve been working towards hit a million screens, reaching and igniting the imagination of countless children.

Hannah preparing to go live

Thanks to The Network at Work placement in CBBC I have been working as a Runner on Blue Peter for nearly a year now, and have cut my telly teeth on this varied and entertaining factual programme. I research and respond to creative briefs, thoroughly fact-check potential features and liaise with colleagues, guests and contributors. With a high turnaround of ideas, simultaneous tasks set against tight deadlines and the pressure of a live studio, I have thrived in this environment. Working across our live studio, development, film and correspondence teams has given me the shot at a career in TV that just wasn’t there before I applied and attended the festival.

A classic BP "make" - this was how to turn spare gloves into animals - Hannah made the chicken on the left!

A Festival highlight for me was working with the Hollyoaks production team to storyline, script and film an episode of the soap, really putting our creative stamina to the test. Following this I got to join the regular writing team at Lime Pictures for their story conference, and was given the chance to write a shadow episode of the soap. Similarly on Blue Peter over the past year I have pitched and contributed ideas at the commissioning level, and nothing beats seeing your ideas turn into reality on TV.

Hannah at The Network in 2011

In this sense The Network was a game changer for me, because it has provided a great spring board – the rest is down to you.  The battle isn’t over when you arrive somewhere like the BBC, with short contracts and extremely high competition over roles you need to be really self-aware, thirsty for development, flexible, adaptable, tirelessly creative and passionate about making great TV… but if you’re looking at this the chances are you already know that.

Hanging with Barney the BP dog!

Go for it and give my love to Edinburgh!

Aww, doesn't Barney look ultra cuddly!  A huge thanks to Hannah to sharing her story.  If you want to work in TV but don't know where or how to start then you need to come on The Network.  It's all free so what are you waiting for - apply now!

Friday, 8 March 2013

London Screening #1: The Incredible Mr Goodwin

The first of our London Screening events took place this week, and what a way to kick start the series with The Incredible Mr Goodwin.

The face says it all as the bed of nails arrives on stage

The 45 minute show is real edge-of-your-seat stuff, and we’re not sure we’ll be able to look at a needle and thread in the same way for a while!

Andrew Collins was our jovial chair for the post-screening Q&A with Jonathan Goodwin and Matt Crook, the Executive Producer of the show. Initially addressing the question, are we all as brave as The Incredible Mr Goodwin, the clear and definitive answer is no! We were then all ears as the pair shared tales of how they conceived some of the amazing stunts and how some of the Health & Safety forms, as you can imagine, were a slight headache to complete… 

Lying on a single nail!

Nobody could help but be impressed by the sheer amount of craft and time Jonathan extends to his stunts - the hours and hours and hours of practise and planning he does was inspiring. For a minute we thought if we practised hard enough we could pull off similarly crazy stunts until we watched him lie on a single (sharp!) nail for ten seconds without flinching and we had a rethink! Mr Goodwin truly is Incredible.

We’d like to thank everyone at UKTV and ObjectiveProductions who helped make the evening possible.

We still have limited tickets available for the next two screenings both taking place at the Roundhouse, London NW1: 

The Job Lot   Monday 18 March 
Premiere of Big Talk Production’s new comedy for ITV and live Q&A with Russell Tovey and Sarah Hadland

Run  Monday 25 March
Premiere of Acme Film’s drama for Channel 4 and live Q&A with Olivia Colman

Information on how to purchase tickets can be found here.

Top TV tips for #Getting into TV....

Happy Friday and thanks to everyone who joined us for our twitter chat yesterday lunchtime!

Or those of you who missed it, yesterday The Network hosted a twitter chat all about getting into TV with experts from ITV, BBC and Channel 4.

We were absolutely inundated with lots of top questions!  Here are some of the great insights our expert panellists shared:

A lot of recruitment forms ask for an original idea for a TV show. How can you make your idea stand out from the rest?

A:  Really think carefully about the channel/slot/audience, many people are sloppy on this key part of the pitch. 
         A: And remember we're all looking to engage a global market so you want                                 an idea that can travel.

Do production companies care more about degrees or Work Experience?

A:  I would say work experience unless a specialist show and need specialist skills or knowledge. 
A:  Get as much job experience as you can - broad work placements in a range of environments. 
A:  Experience and passion and ideas are more important than grades! It’s about really wanting to work in telly! 

What do companies look for when assessing applications for work experience? 
A:  Make your application targeted, show you've researched them and know about their company/show. 

How can I really stand out from others when applying for graduate jobs / internships etc.? 

A:  Stop thinking about others, and think about what you have done! Have ideas, be creative.   
A:  Be clear about your ability/skillset, show what additional attributes you can bring.  
A:  Just be yourself & if you are passionate about the role and have the right skills you will stand out.  
A:  Be passionate, do your research and be clear about why you want to work at that company. 
How important are showreels in terms of becoming a presenter? And is local radio good experience? 

A:  Pretty essential, people need to see you are comfortable and look good on camera! Local radio experience is grea.t  
A:  You need to display your presenting ability and skill to engage/sell co-presenting/links/debates it depends.

What are the chances of a good script for a show being picked up if it’s sent into the script room for BBC/itv etc? 

A:  I'd suggest that you get an agent, ITV don't have a Writers Room to see unsolicited scripts.

Is working as a runner a good place to start if you have no broadcasting experience? 
‏A: It’s the BEST starting point, if you have no experience or unsure of the role you want - gives you great insights.

This twitter chat was just a taster of the expert advice and insight you will get in Edinburgh if you win a place on The Network – and of course, you’ll get to ask your questions face to face and in more than 140 characters!

Good luck with your application!