Tag Archives: work

Foiled by a spindle moulder

Sooo, some stuff went wrong and I had to change my plans.

I spent the whole of yesterday setting up for the workshop interviews, only to find out the machine right next to my set would be being used until Tuesday. How I only found this out after hours of prep I don’t know, but its been an excruciating lesson in Sod’s law – ‘If it can go wrong, it will’.

My contingency was to interview the office employees, which meant finding a new location and all the challenges that posed.

I’m going to say this now, and until experiencing it myself I wasn’t able to fully appreciate it:

SOLO SHOOTS ARE REALLY HARD

Like the animals on Noah’s ark, my kit came in pairs. Having to set up a  camera, mic and light by yourself is not ideal at the best of times, but when each is multiplied by two it pushes you to the limits of your skill set. Nevertheless, I’m really grateful for the opportunity it has provided me to push myself. It’s a challenge having your motivation coming from the same source as your frustrations and problems, the overcoming of which is invaluable in all aspects of life.

One of my favourite tasks of the day was having the sound-proof the cupboard behind my camera which, after getting the guys in the workshop to turn their music down, I discovered housed a large and rather noisy server.

To get an idea of the noise prior to my handywork, hum moderately loudly until someone nearby smacks you.

Eventually I managed to get Ed, one of the managers from upstairs, to come down and be the guinea pig for my first (ever) solo interview. It was a really good run, by which I mean I found out a lot of the problems I hadn’t known about before I hit record.

Watching the footage back, I’m really pleased with how it turned out. My next challenge is going to be matching up the colours of the Canon and Blackmagic footage (which I *think* involves something to do with LUT).

Watch this space!

The silence of the tools

So now I’ve been with N.E.J. Stevenson Ltd a few weeks, I’m ready to start prepping for interviews. Most of the work I’ve done prior to this has been action based – filming around the workshop and an installation in London.

I wanted to hold off conducting interviews with the employees because I feel it’s important to establish a rapport, allowing the interviewees to feel more comfortable with me behind the camera and so able to give more natural answers.

I also wanted to wait a few weeks because I was still getting to grips with my kit (tools don’t tend to laugh at you when you mess up, unlike their human counterparts) and the complexities of solo- shooting.

Last thing before I start is to consult the fountain of knowledge that is Lynda.com on how to conduct professional interviews. A good tip I picked up from the course is a simple list of things to tell your interviewee before turning on the camera:

  1. Don’t look into the camera, this is just a normal conversation between the two of us.
  2. Include the question in your answer using full sentences.
  3. It’s okay to restart questions or rephrase your answer.
  4. Can I get you anything before we start?

If you’re interested in learning more about interview techniques, you can view the Lynda course I’m using here.

Loose Women – Day 5

And so my week’s work experience at Loose Women has come to an end. I must admit, even after only a week I felt a pang as I walked out the elevator for the last time. Of course, with all the running about I’ve done this week this may well have just been the ache ebbing from my legs.

But wow. What a week it’s been. The buildup to today’s big celebration show has certainly been an interesting one, with puppies, prosecco and Gemma Collins all featuring in the highlights. It’s been a really educational experience and even in the short time I was there my knowledge of terrestrial television as an industry has grown tenfold. From the Producer’s desk to Director’s gallery, Floor Manager’s studio to editor’s suite, Stylist’s wardrobe to Set Dresser’s workshop, I’ve had a glimpse into the huge workforce behind the TV we enjoy daily. It’s given me a clearer sense of not only what I want to pursue as a career, but my own place within the media industry.

It’s been a great start to my placement year, I can’t wait to see what the rest of it brings!

 

Loose Women – Day 4

So today I shadowed Jack, the Assistant Floor Manager, whilst on air. Running around behind the set getting everything ready, I was suddenly transported back to my acting days at school, the familiar buzz of preparing for a production surging through me. It was a feeling I’d missed.

The Floor Manager’s job is to keep everything running smoothly in the studio. This means organising props, the cast, rehearsals, timings and generally being alert to anything which might cause an issue whilst live on air. As to be expected, this involves a lot of running around trying to do 12 things at once. Thankfully I was only a witness to this, completing errands and relaying instructions, but nonetheless remaining largely observant of this manic activity at work. Gemma Collins (whose memes are dominating Twitter right now) was the main guest who we had to escort around the studio for the day.  It was a strange sensation seeing someone who had garnered such a frenzy of attention online in person.

Me and the Queen of Memays

Once the show was over I went down to wardrobe, where I got to see the somewhat less glamorous side of fashion – sorting through and bagging up all the multiple outfits which hadn’t been worn on the show. Although I don’t have a particular interest in pursuing fashion as a career, it was still another insight into one of the micro-industries which make up the world I want to work in.

Loose Women – Day 3

Well, puppies. As the four tiny Springer Spaniels bounced around the green room, I must admit I didn’t really feel like I was ‘at work’. I must admit, it was a strangely satisfying feeling, seeing the little ribbons which I had spent several hours searching for the day before tied around their collars live on national television. It once again underscored what I have slowly come to realise as I gain more experience in the industry – the sheer scale of effort that goes into making even the simplest piece of media. The puppies that people saw on TV for a no more than a minute were the product of hours of preparation and rehearsal by a whole team of professionals, as well as my personal contribution of the little bows.

It made me wonder how many of those satisfying little moments happen for different people in everything we watch. A prop they’d spent hours finding, a camera-movement timed just right, a line they’d drafted again and again until it rang true. I am extremely grateful that I have had the opportunity to come to more fully appreciate the craftsmanship in such an integral part of the modern world.

Speaking of craftsmanship, I had the opportunity to watch Richard direct in the gallery today.  For those of you that haven’t seen the inside of a broadcasting gallery, it’s not dissimilar to some kind of alien spacecraft (or the set of a JJ Abrams movie), filled with large boards of lights and buttons and manned by a small team of highly skilled professionals.  I’d try to go into more detail, but I think with the number of Star Trek references I’d make this blog would be shut down for copyright. Anyways, manning this futuristic pod is the director, who (in very basic terms) tells the team what camera/footage to cut to whilst live on air.

                                                         Inside the Enterprise

It was like watching a conductor. From the wall of screens in front of him known as ‘the stack’,  shot-by-shot he pulled the show together, the next command flying out of his mouth before I’d had a chance to process the prior. Speaking to him afterwards, he said that the key was to give everyone in the studio enough information to be able to get through the frantic moments. Seriously cool stuff.

Loose Women – Day 1

Finally home from my first day working on Loose Women at the London Studios. I’ve chosen a great week to start; Loose Women is celebrating its 18th birthday as the longest running daytime talk-show in Britain. I spent most of the day running around helping with the manic preparation before going live. I got to see a large part of the process of filming the show – pre-production up in the offices, the gallery where they mix the live show, the actual studio (where I got to see The Script warm up) as well as numerous other departments which kept the whole operation running smoothly. Once again I was staggered by the sheer number of people it takes to make a piece of media.

I got to speak to a few people, mostly in the Loose Women team, about their roles and how they had come to work where they were. In particular I spoke to John, the junior editor for Loose Women, who gave me a clearer idea of the career path needed to become an editor (as well as re-affirming my fears that I will, in fact, have to teach myself Avid in order to make a career of it). I need to learn more about ingest (as I will most likely start out in it) and so this will be my mission for tomorrow. I’m very excited to see what the week brings.

Searching for Excalibur

As I continue to write these blog posts I have come to understand their value as a way of processing my own thoughts and opinions. As such, I am using this post to compile my initial impressions from research for my Work in the Media Industries report. It should be made clear now that this post does not represent a full and knowledgeable understanding of its subject matter, but rather the first impressions of an initiate media producer which will develop as I delve deeper into the topic.

I recently started listening to Cal Newport’s ‘Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World’ on audiobook and, although it doesn’t focus specifically on media workers, it does offer some insight as to why so many are drawn to the unpredictable industry. Newport talks about an American blacksmith who forges medieval swords using techniques of their era. He describes how the smith, using an ingot no larger than 4 or 5 iPhones stacked on top of one another, slowly hammers out the steel into a thin blade, reheating the metal after each deft blow in a painstaking process which takes several hours.

The anecdote illustrates an increasingly widespread problem that faces knowledge workers across the globe – where is their sword? Many struggle to see the physical impact their work has on the world; lost in a network of emails and meetings, their ‘sword’ is far less tangible than the gleaming length of steel produced by the blacksmith. Without this palpable definition to their work, it can be harder to find real job satisfaction.

This is one of the reasons I believe people are drawn to the creative industry. In his book ‘Nice Work If You Can Get It: Life and Labor in Precarious Times’ Andrew Ross outlines what he calls the “heavy sacrificial cost” of job gratification for creatives. Among this sobering list of traits is “self-exploitation in response to the gift of autonomy, and dispensability in exchange for flexibility”. Progressively sophisticated workflows have allowed corporations to chop projects into small chunks and outsource them, creating a temporary employment culture which the creative industry is infamous for. Yet these are the conditions which throngs of people are drawn to.

In a world where your profession has become an increasingly integral part of what defines you, the social prestige associated with working in the creative industry has outweighed the very real insecurities which face media workers today. The concept of high-risk/high-reward employment has become exciting rather than foolhardy, as people struggle to find their sword.