Kate entered the TV industry in 2012 and is currently working as a production coordinator.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to enter the TV industry?
To be honest when I left school I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, apart from travel the world. So at 18 I did what a lot of young people do and went on a “Gap Year” to so call “Find myself.” I wouldn’t quite say I had an epiphany but I kind of thought about my plans on return simply – what am I interested in? I like watching TV, I like photography and design, and I like being in a creative atmosphere meeting interesting people. So when I came back I did a Media and Communications course at Birmingham City University. I thoroughly enjoyed the hands on, practical course – FYI Media courses are not a cop out as some people may think. I was in uni Mon-Fri 9-5 which as a student was quite a lot! Mostly I liked the television aspect so in my final year concentrated in this. Then when I came out of uni I went on the hunt to get into the industry.
What was the best piece of advice you were given by your tutors/teachers to prepare you for the working world?
Be approachable, offer help and always ask questions.
Did you take on any unpaid positions to gain experience?
Yes, work experience I would say is a must. Most, if not pretty much all the people I know in the industry got their paid positions through firstly volunteering for free. Ok it’s not ideal not getting paid but what you will learn is invaluable. And what’s a few weeks of free labour if it gets you your dream job!
How long did it take you to get your first permanent (or fixed term) paying job, and how long did it take you to consistently find paying work?
As I stress above, it’s all about the work experience and this is how I got my first paid job. Whilst I was at university (as part of my course) we had to find 2 weeks work experience within the industry that we were studying. I did this at an independent TV company in Bristol who made mostly natural history programmes. Once I finished uni I kept in touch with the head of production and 2months later a runner position became available and I got the job. Overall I have been quite lucky as bar one month I have been in work ever since.
What was your first impression of a studio set/ location shoot?
It is not as glamorous as you think! Hard work, but lots of fun!
When working as a runner what are your responsibilities, and what have you found hardest to master?
I was a runner for about 8months and my roles varied. I was an office production runner, so was not assigned to one production in particular and instead helped out on various programmes as well as running for the office in general.
My simple day to day roles were things such as making tea, stocking the kitchen, trips to the post office, admin and answering phones. I was also responsible for interviewing potential work experience (which at first felt weird as I didn’t feel qualified to do so) but it began to feel more natural the more I did it, and actually helped me in the future when being interviewed myself.
Other than this I think it is mainly your responsibility to get involved in other jobs that interest you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and offer help, you will learn so much more.
Other types of jobs I did during this time were logging, timecoding scripts, helping set up shoots, attending location, research and post production paperwork.
I would say the hardest thing to master would be prioritising. When you have a list of things to do and a number of different people asking you to do them; it would sometimes be tricky to know what to do first. I overcame this by asking the question – does this have a deadline/how urgent do you need this done by. You will soon get to know the people you work with and whether it is actually urgent!
What set/location etiquette have you learnt that you think all new entrants should know?
On location it is all hands to the deck, so don’t wait on the side-line to be told what to do, be proactive and ask who needs help. Also being friendly and smile (even though you may be exhausted) it goes a long way.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
This is a really hard question. I wouldn’t say there has been one particular moment that I could pick as a number one highlight. I would however say that I am very lucky as I genuinely wake up most mornings and look forward to going to work, so can’t complain!
Having a substantial amount of experience under your belt now, what advice would you give to those just starting out?
I think I have pretty much mentioned everything in previous comments. But to re-iterate the main points of advice I would give are:
Be approachable and friendly, a smile goes a long way.
Ask questions, appear interested and sometimes even flatter – people like to feel what they are doing is important and interesting and will be more willing to share their knowledge with you.
Be proactive, don’t wait to be told, offer help before it is required of you.
Don’t go to people with a problem, think about it first and go with a solution.
Working in television things can go wrong and stress levels can rise. Be the cool calm and collected one, even if you are sweating inside! People will respect this and want to keep you around.
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