After completing the MA in 2017, I returned home to the North-East in the hopes of working in film and tv there. I quickly found that opportunities were hard to come by and an already hard to break into industry was even harder away from the traditional TV hubs. Although, I did manage to work on the Netflix film Outlaw King while they were shooting in Berwick Upon Tweed.
After working in chemistry for about a year and a half, I decided to apply for the 2019 Grierson DocLab in the hopes of gaining contacts and opportunities within factual and documentary film and TV. As part of the DocLab scheme, I was placed with Wise Owl Films in Leeds where I had the opportunity to gain experience in development and also work on location on the ITV series The Metro; A Rail Life Story in Newcastle. I was then kept on for the remainder of the shoot and made contacts that contacts that directly lead to my next job working on a BBC 3 reality/ob doc – Angels of the North for Twenty-Six 03.
Even after a gap, the things I learned by doing the MA have helped me immeasurably in my current work. My placement with Creative Media taught me everything I needed to know from a technical standpoint and the knowledge I gained there has helped me hit the ground running while working on location.
Since completing the MA in 2017, I have continued to work in Birmingham for various companies in the region, as well as visiting production companies. During the MA, I was lucky enough to be employed by 7Wonder after completing my placement with them on My Kitchen Rules which I worked on full-time whilst also completing my final assignments. Immediately after finishing the MA, I worked on the eleventh series of One Born Every Minute in Birmingham Women’s Hospital, before moving onto the BBC 2 series Hospital which was based in Nottingham’s Trust Hospitals for 3 months. I came back to Birmingham last March, and have since worked on various shows with 7Wonder, Full Fat, North One and Optomen. Some highlights include a shoot on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean (see photo!) and shooting The Gadget Show’s Christmas Special episode in the middle of October. I’m currently working as a Production Coordinator at Full Fat for a new pilot series. The MA’s placement scheme was definitely a great introduction and set me up for many of my future opportunities.
I started applying for jobs in the last couple of months of the MA, and came face to face with the reality of how difficult it is to crack the industry. However, I got offered a job with Oxfam to join their events team the week I handed in my dissertation. Whilst it wasn’t a TV job, I was given opportunities to use my creative skills in a number of different ways. I found my job so rewarding and enjoyable I started to question whether I even wanted to just pursue TV production anymore! I enjoyed the stability of a permanent 9-5 contract, and loved that my work was making a positive difference to people.
Around the same time I found out my job at Oxfam was going to be made redundant, I was offered a marketing role with the biggest comic con company in the UK which had just been bought by the company behind New York Comic Con. On paper the job was perfect, with the perfect balance of being involved in the pop culture side of the film and TV industry and working on creative marketing campaigns. However, I was only there for a short while before returning to events marketing, which I’m really enjoying.
Whilst I might not be working in TV, I’m still glad I took the MA; I’m grateful that I got the opportunity to make a documentary that’s important to me, and I’ve found employers find the skills I developed really desirable. As a dual citizen, I have also applied for my first Canadian passport, with the aim to relocate to Toronto next spring. I’m not sure what direction that will take my career in, but I’m excited to see what opportunities it throws up.