A Foot in the Door

Olivia Scott finished her MA in early September 2016. Since then she’s spent 4 weeks as a location runner in Ibiza (yes, really!) and is about to commence her second paid TV role as a casting runner in London. Here’s how FTV helped her to get that foot in the door…

oliviaIt seems like only yesterday that I got my acceptance onto the MA in Film and Television: Research and Production at the University of Birmingham. Doing my undergrad (History) at UoB, it felt only natural for me to stay an extra year, on this fantastic course, as I loved the uni, and the opportunities the course could provide me, so much. In all honesty, my main reason for undertaking the MA was the placement aspect of the course, as I, like many other rookies looking to get a career in television or film, didn’t know where to start. I thought that the course would provide me with the necessary skills and training which would stand me in good stead to get a job in the television industry. And I was right.

I enjoyed every aspect of the MA, from practical training with Oz, to documentary filmmaking with Richard. However, my favourite taught module was Research, Production and Commissioning with Kate Hollingsworth (who works in television). As a self-confessed TV obsessive, I loved learning about every aspect of the television industry, and Kate was an inspirational teacher. This module, as well as the placements I undertook, reinforced that I definitely wanted to pursue a career in television.

However, it was definitely the placement aspect of the course which I feel I thrived in. I was a casting runner at 7Wonder in Birmingham for two months, working on a cookery show for Channel 4. I really felt like a part of the team and I learned loads about the TV industry and casting itself. This experience led me to get the job that I am currently working in, as a casting runner for a company in London, called Nutopia. To get the chance to actually work for a television company was amazing, and I learned some invaluable skills, all thanks to the MA.

olivia-ibiza

The MA also helped me get my first job in television: being a location runner on Ibiza Weekender (ITV2). To have the chance to go abroad for a month was amazing, let alone getting the chance to go to Ibiza for a month! I had to give my dissertation in 3 weeks early, and my placement essay 2 weeks early (a day before I flew out to Ibiza) but it was worth it, as working on Ibiza Weekender was an amazing experience, and I learned so much about working on location and the necessary tasks that are involved in being a location runner. It was relentless hard work, but again I feel that the experience I had on the MA really helped me to do my best at the job. It also helped that I had watched the show so knew the format!

I can’t thank Richard, Jemma and Oz enough. Doing the MA was the best decision and all aspects of it have allowed me to get my foot in the door of the television industry, an industry I hope to work in for a number of years!

Olivia Scott

ibiza2

Life as a TV Researcher

Alumnus Pete Twibill graduated from the MA in 2010, when it was still known as ‘History, Film and Television’. In the past four years he’s worked as a researcher on numerous broadcast television programmes, predominantly on Birmingham-based productions but also with stints in London and Leicester. In this blog he shares his experiences of life in telly…and yes, he really has pressure washed an elephant! Pete Twibill blog

I did my MA work experience at North One TV working on The Gadget Show (Channel 5). After finishing that I was offered a 3 month contract with North One as a Researcher. All in all I was at North One TV for around 14 months.

Since leaving North One I’ve been fortunate enough to work on a number of prime time shows including three series of Superscrimpers (Remarkable TV, Channel 4), Snog Marry Avoid (Remarkable TV, BBC3), Junior Paramedics (BBC North, BBC3) and The House that £100k Built (Remarkable TV, BBC2).

It’s pretty difficult to describe what my job role is as it varies so much. In essence, I do whatever needs to be done to make TV programmes. I’ve had to dip my toe into a number production processes; casting, shooting, editing, writing biographies, fact checking, setting up shoots, the list goes on (with a lot more banal examples!). I think an important aspect of my job is being able to adapt, as every project is different. For instance, my last job saw me on the road attending medical emergencies like seizures, car accidents and cardiac arrests. The job before that was an office based role on a history documentary and next month I might be pressure washing African elephants (again!!!).

For me, TV often feels like a very bi-polar career, it comes with extreme highs and lows, it’s very rarely mundane. There are often times, exhausted, dishevelled and broken, when I ask “why do I do this?”. But on the plus side, I’ve been witness to some awe inspiring moments, had privileged access to some incredible places and experiences and made some wonderful TV!

I’ve been lucky to get this far into the TV industry, I’m lucky to be able to do what I do and my good luck started on the MA placement!

Sweet as a nut!

Peter Twibill

Rebecca’s Placement Diary: Maverick Television

Between January and August each year, FTV students undertake work placements in the media industry as part of their MA. Here is current student Rebecca Conley’s account of her time at Maverick Television – complete with an entry for Careers Network’s Intern Selfie Competition

Rebecca Making a start: My placement at Maverick Television began as a junior researcher in Development. I began by phoning and emailing people for background material into specific topics to inform the producer’s decision on whether to develop a certain TV programme idea. If an idea was progressed I would then research key statistics and search the Internet for potential hosts, characters or experts. Other tasks included brainstorming new ideas and format points and suggesting titles and taglines based on a treatment. I soon learned that there is no such thing as a “typical working day” in Development.

Game Shows: Six weeks in and I changed to working in Maverick’s Multiplatform department. First task was to work on a proposal for a new game show in development. I was involved in researching statistics and accumulating scores from real contestants in a mock run-through of the game show. Other duties included gathering results from the Embarrassing Bodies My HealthChecker web content and making comparisons e.g. based on age, gender and occupation. I also made recommendations of how to push the health apps, doctor response videos and condition guides in each episode of Live from the Clinic.

Embarrassing Bodies: I was able to gain some experience as a production runner on the live set of Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies: Live from the Clinic, Series 4. My duties included making the teas and coffees for the production office and crew and making sure the green room and the studio was tidy and well stocked with supplies. You can quickly gain the enthusiasm of others by offering a nice cuppa and it’s a great networking tool. I was able to have a chat in the green room with Doctor Brad Mckay, the host of Embarrassing Bodies Down Under, about his new show.

(Also, I made a small cameo as Doctor Christian’s back up dancer for a VT in the same episode).

On to London: I spent the final week of my placement in Maverick’s London Office. I was responsible for creating categories of multiple-choice questions for a run-through of a game show. I was on hand at the run-through location to meet and greet the game show contributors and make sure they were all provided with light refreshments. This was an interesting insight into the how a programme is developed before it can be provided with funded development or a successful commission.

It was a great opportunity to be able to work at Maverick Television. So much confidence can be gained in a short time by hands-on tasks and mixing with seasoned professionals. It puts you in a good frame of mind for the next challenge and improves your CV for the applications. I would certainly like to thank all who helped me at Maverick during my placement and hope we can keep in touch.

Rebecca Conley

FTV alumni work on BAFTA-winning programmes

It’s always great to hear what FTV alumni have been up to since leaving the course, so imagine the excitement in our office when we heard that two past students have been working on television programmes that were awarded BAFTAs a few weeks ago! Scott Billing (2012) has been a researcher on Gogglebox while Rosie Pooley (2013) has been casting for Long Lost Family. Here are their accounts of BAFTA night, complete with photos of those iconic bronze masks. Congratulations!

Scott Billing

ScottBillingBAFTAAt the recent BAFTA Television awards Gogglebox, the hit C4 show which I have worked on for the past two series, surprised everyone by winning in the ‘Reality and Constructed Factual’ category. At the time myself, the crew and the contributors were all obviously delighted and shared a sense of combined achievement I have rarely experienced whilst working in TV.

We didn’t get to go to the ceremony, and in fact we were still filming the show the night the ceremony was held (we celebrated in the kitchen of one of Gogglebox‘s now semi-famous families). Since we wrapped on the show I have had time to reflect that not only was it an honour to contribute to a show recognised in such a way, but I also have quite a nice achievement to add to my CV, not to mention a pretty decent profile picture!

Rosie Pooley

Since leaving FTV I’ve been working on various projects at Wall to Wall, a production company in London that makes programmes such as Who Do You Think You Are? (BBC1), The Voice (BBC1) and Drugs, Inc. (National Geographic). After finishing my 3 month placement I worked primarily with the development team on proposed factual series and dramas (which I loved), before I was lucky enough to land a role on the ITV series Long Lost Family, presented by Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell. The series as you might expect finds and reunites long lost relatives that have been separated for years, and in some cases, may have never even met. It has been an amazing experience and I couldn’t have hoped to work on a better programme for my first TV production role.

Currently I’m casting for Long Lost Family Series 4, which due to the nature of the programme can mean you’re often shedding a few tears in the office, but it’s great to get out on a shoot day and see the reunions that really make your job worthwhile. Series 4 will be airing in July so we are all working hard at the moment to make sure the series is even better than last year by finding great stories and helping some lovely people.RosiePooleyBAFTA

Plus on May 18th, Long Lost Family won the BAFTA for ‘Features’ and although I did not work on the previous series I was lucky enough to celebrate with the wonderful team at the Grosvenor House Hotel – we even managed to work our way in to the after party where we partied until the wee hours of the morning. It was firstly great to get the news that we had won, and even better when we saw some members of our team go up to collect the award whilst Nicky and Davina made their acceptance speeches. We then of course spent the rest of the night unashamedly taking a million and one pictures with the BAFTA heads and various celebs that were still partying away…

January Newsflash!

A belated Happy New Year!

January is flying by and things have been very busy here in FTV. Several students have already started their placements with media companies and independent filmmakers, whilst others are beginning to film their 5-minute films and research their audio-visual dissertations. 

1stOptionSafetyOur Health and Safety training day had to be postponed on Friday due to the snowy weather, but we are hoping to rearrange this within the next few weeks. This Skillset accredited production safety course is an annual event for FTV students and is an excellent addition to CVs.

On Monday 11 February, we will be holding an Open Day for prospective applicants, so if you’re interested in finding out more about the course, or know someone who might be, then please get in touch! Dr James Walters will be giving an overview of the MA, then there’ll also be a talk about placements, a chance to see some previous students’ film projects, and the opportunity to chat to our technician, Oz, about the equipment we have here. Email j.j.saunders@bham.ac.uk for more information. Hope to see you there!

Click here to see our Open Day Poster Jan 2013

UPDATE – JANUARY FILM EVENT

The Departure Lounge presents Liverpool based writer / director, Martin Wallace, and his debut feature film, SMALL CREATURES. Thursday January 31 at 8.30pm at MAC Cinema, Birmingham 

“Coggie and Macca are friends with Ste, an aggressive gang leader in the making and aspiring alpha male. Liverpool based Martin Wallace’s debut feature, a low budget drama of tearaway early teens, is “shot with a poetic eye that makes the familiar appear new” (Time Out)” 

Martin Wallace, en route to the Berlin Film Festival Talent Campus, will introduce the film and do a Q&A after the screening. More info here – http://www.macarts.co.uk/event/departure-lounge-small-creatures-qanda–tbc

Congratulations Class of 2012!

Massive congratulations to all the Film and Television: Research and Production students who graduated this morning!

Our most recent alumni are already pursuing successful careers in the media, working for companies including Maverick, North One and Ember Television, to name  but a few. Have a fantastic day celebrating your graduation everyone, and best of luck for the future!

Back: Lizzie, Lubna, Catalina, Scott, SamFront: Anna

Back: Lizzie, Lubna, Catalina, Scott, Sam
Front: Anna