Thursday, 26 December 2013

TV Glamour

My re-entry into the Oz TV job market has seen me dive head first into a Network glossy, the faces behind the scenes are familiar, just a bit older.  

It's been a busy three months, juggling family with a high travel work load. I more than enjoy the work and my time away, but do miss the day to day of being mum, hearing what happens each day in person, bed time stories and kisses.   

It's a double edge sword.  

I would be lying if I said I don't love sleeping in on my day off and not been woken at 5.30am by little feet.


Cab #6
Traveling light
Always the window
Dinner on the late shift

Data wrangling at midnight
Sleep anytime

When it's too late for room service

It's how I roll... rocking the PPE
Not such a mans world
Com's... slipper little sucker

Late night dinner - the healthy option

TV, laptop, tablet ... Oh & IPhone (4 is a crowd)

Producer-types day off #whatafeeling

Office on the road

Flying home with 6 others, everyone sitting head down in tablets. Lucky the lounge has good wine.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Income protection in a world of freelance, job losses & even death.

Having never really worried about grown up stuff before it was time to take a look at personal things like planning for the future, kids' schooling, housing and retirement.  So the hubby and I got ourselves a new financial planner to help us meet some of those everyday targets we need for that Disneyland happy ever-after tale.
Nothing bad stuck out and most of it was all good, that was until we talked about 'income protection' for me.  Yes the hubby's rates where what is to be expected but, nope, not mine.  When our planner questioned the rate with the insurance company she was told that TV people have died falling out of helicopters, road crashes and are a high risk.  Well its a no-brainer a freelance workforce is high risk of unstable employment or loss of income but deaths from helicopters must rare (right?).
Having worked many years ago with helicopters it never crossed my mind that I could or would fall out, a camera man yes, maybe a soundie but me, no, never.  I was always in the front seat with a seat belt on. 
So the fact that my current role lops me into a category of high death risk it is all new to me.  There are two types of TV/film producers for insurance companies Type A - anyone who works on location or studio and Type B - office based work.  While they both are  freelance so have unstable employment areas, Type B are less likely to die from typing or sitting in an edit suite (all though at times it may seem like you could). 
It does strike me as strange that I work in a high death risk industry. I've been lucky enough not to have heard about anyone dying from falling out of a helicopter or on location.
But I do know about the lucky shave an old lady had in Sydney when a news camera mans battery fell out of a helicopter flying over her house near the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It went threw her roof, she called NASA or so she thought - as that was the phone number that was on the item that fell from the sky... but that's another story.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Take 2

Change change and more change.
Five months after moving to Australia we moved again. This time back to the North Shore of Sydney. With +3 people to relocate there is a lot more to arrange and my start deadline for working on a big network glossy TV show was approaching. With only 4 days until the school holidays I started to pack, looked for houses, schools, preschools, long day care and did all the boring stuff like booking the removal men, changing the phone and electricity, yada yada yada.
With all this going on I didn't have time to push for more details on
the schedule and did the rookie mistake of not pushing for details on the dates of travel and how many days away from home there would be. We all know going on the road is tough and with two little people at home it was always going to be tougher, but with all the other stuff going on I just pushed it to the back of my mind.
I'm now excited to be working with a great team and on a massive production, the away days are A LOT more and the home days a lot less then first told or expected (breathe in / breathe out). I will miss my children and them me, but it wouldn't be good telly without any tears. 

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Hello there... it’s been a long time!

After the excitement of my first 'Linked In' request, the phone rang for a field producing job. My head was spinning. Do I pass up what could be the start of a long relationship with a new company? After 15 years of jetting-off on location week after week it would have been a no brainer BC (before children). With two away dates of seven days straight each I just could not bring myself to up and leave the kids with a new (yet to be hired) nanny. Seven days was just two days to many.

Hello things we missed you
Having only lived in Australia 10 weeks, I'm half kicking myself for saying no. However our shipping only arrived one week ago and we had been camping out in our rental house on air beds and no personal items.

The past two weeks has seen emotional wobbles from all of us. The children have been questioning why we left the UK, stating they have no friends and they miss their old home, schools and friends. All this is normal and to be expected.  To be honest,  I have moments of feeling the same and think ‘what have we done’ leaving amazing friends to start over again.

But come Monday, the shoot date start I had happy kids having made more friends during the week and I started thinking that I should have just gone for it. But as a mum I was worrying about being away from them so early in the move.

Juggling family and work is never going to be easy, but all I can be is honest and hope the phone rings again.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

3 months on

Money where your mouth is.

I did it. Sold the family home and packed our family of 4 off to  Australia.  It's early days of our new/old life and I'm looking forward to not sleeping on a blow up bed... as we wait for the shipping.  I had visions of going back to work within a month or so of arriving and just getting on with our new life downunder.

I mean how hard can it be? Up rooting the family and starting again! After all its not the first time I have moved countries, but it is with kids.  I have watched all those "A life in country/sea/Spain/France" shows and people did it with no problems at all.  And after all I am heading back to family and old friends so it should be easy.

And in someways it has been for me, as they are my family and old friends, but not my kids. As a mother I need to factor in the feelings and emotions of my very young children how long it will take to settle into schools and life. But after a lot of tears and real feelings my first job at hand is to be a mum to my kids and get them started in school and pre school (aka nursery) so for the next month or so it's coffees with old work mates and watching a lot of TV to work out which blonde skinny presenter is who.

Which is exactly the same thing that happened over a decade ago when I moved to the UK.  I had gone from being and Entertainment producer to finding myself asking who are Ant & Dec and Davina McCall not to mention finding it hard to understand what northern presenters were saying.

Things have changed, my old researcher/friend is now the 'Weather girl', reality contestants 'present' better than the host and international reality shows flood the airwaves.  The other thing I have noticed in the short 3 weeks I have been back, is that Australian commissioners have joined their UK counterparts in commissioning shows at the 12th hour and jobs need filling URGENTLY or tomorrow.

Which really sucks if you have a family or life.

I am also being told that there has been a flood of  Brits working on the BIG glossy floor shows and the big 4 have all the work.  So its seems that on both sides of the globe telly types are the same.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

'What's your rate'?

As a freelancer that one question that drives me a little nuts is "what is your rate?”  Now there are no rules on what to get paid but in general everyone knows the top and low ends of their pay rate, but employers generally want to know how much you know and what they can get away with.

I went for a job interview a month ago and nearly fell off my chair when I was told ‘the rate’.

The story goes like this...

I saw a job add for an AP on an historical documentary for a company commissioned by BBC2.  I always wanted a Beeb credit and love telling stories and this subject was very interesting - it was a no brainier to apply.  Despite it being for a job lower then my experience I knew that I would be great value for money as an AP and it’s for the Beeb.

The call came for an interview and like always the rate question came up, I also wanted to know what “start ASAP” really meant, as there is no point wasting anyone’s time.   I cannot have an interview Tuesday and start Wednesday as I have childcare to work out.  That takes a couple of days.

In spite of my many other questions like contract length, travel, office location etc the runner on the phone had no information. But it’s a doco for the Beeb so ‘hell yes’ I wanted it. 

The producer was nice, laid back and knew what he was talking about. We chatted and then after 15 minutes I was sold as it sound like a great little gig but then it came…
Instead of “what's your rate” he simply said “the rate is £500”.

I must have looked really shocked as he almost went to help me not fall off my chair!
Without drawing breath I said ‘NO’ maybe a little faster than what is polite.

Now I knew I applied for an AP role and rates can be as low as £750 or £950 so even if it had been the lower I would have been happy to take it.  After all it’s a Beeb credit.

With over 23 years’ experience in TV and Media production (on & off in between bringing up children), I have had many roles and rates and I have never been too fussed about money as long as the employer was not taking me for a ride and I like the subject I am happy to work.

But today I'm not in my 20's with no commitments, I have a family, mortgage and I think I'm rather normal.  So money does play a part in my job search, because after childcare costs.  I don’t want to be working for nothing.

I here story after story about rates being cut and it's no wonder Creative Skillset UK stats state around 5000 plus women left the UK TV in the last 3 years, compared to just 750 men.
If companies are trying to pay rates lower than acceptable women will leave the industry and take valuable scripting, directing and many years of experience with them that cannot be taught on a one-day course.

I'm really sad he decided the rate for that role was below the standard and could not find any room to move.  I did really want a BBC credit and I’ll watch the doco once it’s made as the subject did interest me a lot. 

So I too will now join the Creative Skillset UK stats of women leaving the UK TV industry, but this time I’m taking my experience and skills to Australia.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Dealing with rejection. Thanks but NO thanks.

Dealing with rejection

No one likes to be turned down, whether it's a job or a date.  I must admit I'm writing this while watching the "Undateables" and drinking red wine and thinking about how lucky I am.

So how do you move on from rejection without having a Bridget Jones moment?  Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a graduate no one likes or admits to being rejected or turned down for any role.  It's just not British to talk about these things, but then I'm not British and us Aussies say it like we feel, this is the reason for the blog. 

So how do you pick yourself up once you have put yourself 'out there' but the answer is 'on this occasion....'.

Once you have said the 'insert four letter word', pick yourself up, breathe and say 'their loss' and as Jed Bartlet from The West Wing would say "what's next?"  There are many reasons you may not have got the job and sometimes it is not a reflection on you. Usually there was someone else they knew or who had just finished a job doing the exact same thing available for the role.

Ask the question. This is your chance to ask for feedback that will help you.  It's always hard not knowing why you did not get the role when you have the experience.  Don't lose 2 or 3 days playing the pity game, instead ask!.  When you do get feedback try to see what you learn from it – perhaps lots, maybe nothing. If they can’t or won’t give you any advice, best not to chase them. The reality is it’s been passed down the line to someone removed from the process to reply.  No feedback is incredibly frustrating, but that is the way some people roll.

Stay off social media.  All you need is a good cry, maybe a really good cry, a coffee or wine and 24 hours and the world will seem OK again. Times are tough for all of us getting work and with just 1 in maybe 70 people all wanting the same role. It seems crazy but this is the reality now.

How much do you want it? This is a real question with 10+ years’ experience -  what else could you do instead of television?  Now this bit is a work in progress and I’m still wondering if there is anything else that I could do. Perhaps there is a business waiting to happen, an ex-TV producers recruitment agency  (one that returns emails and calls).

Lastly, remember what is important,

Jobs come and go in the TV world, you win some you lose some but tomorrow it will all seem a little better. Today I said no to what would have been a lovely little Doco job for BBC2. Why turn down such a nice credit? Money well the lack of it for such a role, but that’s another blog. 

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Hurray for open-minded employers

Rome was not built in a day but there is change coming...
It’s a challenge for many of us TV mums and dads the world of trying to work out a work-life balance in an industry where if you say “no” there will be someone else saying “yes” (and not always as qualified and for less money) standing right behind you.  In an industry where your last "credit" defines you, it's going to be difficult to open minds up to the fact that 1, 2 or longer years out of 'broadcast' does not mean you were not good enough to get another gig.  It just means you grew up and took time out for either a family or maybe just a bit of a life.  After all, living on location 7/8 months of the year wears thin even for this globe-trotting Aussie.
With companies and government agencies offering dozens of internships to broadcast and media newbies there are very few forward thinking employers reaping the rewards from hiring highly-skilled and experienced production people for the same cost as someone with less experience.   
But things are changing. 
My friend is a very experienced Producer/Director with a lovely little 2 year girl old. She now lives in Australia.
She wrote in November:   
I'm loving your blog posts. Nice of you to share the journey. I'm still stressing out about the whole issue of work... I don't want to be away from my daughter full-time (she's 2 next month) but I'm SO pessimistic about getting hired with only part-time availability. From mid-Jan my daughter will be in daycare 8am-4pm Tue-Wed-Thu so I'm hoping I can find SOMETHING!!" 
She wrote in January:  
"I actually have a lot to thank you for! ... inspired by your blog, I applied for a job pitching myself as ‘available part-time only, but great value for money!’ and I got it!
It's a short term role 3 days a week, on the days my daughter goes to daycare.  The role is Assistant Producer  it's a 'demotion' in terms of seniority to be an AP again, but I figure that's the cost of getting a part time gig.  They hadn't advertised it as part-time, but they liked my CV and my pitch and so called me in for a meeting.
Hurray for open-minded employers. 
I'm a bit scared of the whole juggling work and motherhood thing... but some people seem to manage it in this industry, so why not me?"

HURRAY! Thanks for sharing. You’re the inspiring one and good luck.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Live outside the box

Don't knock it until you try it.

Two weeks ago I decided to try something new. Getting out of the house on a Monday night without kids or hubby and something even more wild... attending a local knitting group.

Yes shocking! I know! It's a far cry from hanging out with the who's who of the music world or flying business class to amazing locations or freezing my butt off doing interviews on the red carpet.

But life is what it is and after watching one to many "Location, Location, Locations" I find myself living in 'an idyllic village' just a short 45 minute commute to Waterloo, yet wanting to live in the city.

Stitch n bitch, as it's named, meets in a local pub (bonus) and half way through the night random amounts of musician turn up to jam at the pub's folk night.  So it is very cool in a geekish way.  The people are lovely, they don't want me to pay them for their knowledge and they are really and I mean really into knitting.   I on the other hand am very much a novice.

Now I'm not asking you to join me, but just to seek out new things to try, go on - be daring.. the world's your oyster.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

New Year New You

Actions speak louder than words.
OK I'm the person who NEVER makes New Year’s resolutions because I know I am not going to keep them. I'm honest enough to know I'm weak and don't really care about most trivial things.
And these days it looks like if you want to change something you put yourself on national TV for all to see.  While channel flicking I stopped on Supersize vs Superskinny. It’s not my normal viewing but I was stunned to see the large guy give such great advice to the super skinny woman.
A drink for everyone
 It was 'don't do it for your children, do it for yourself.'  What great advice.  How many of these reality shows do we have to watch where women have lost themselves and live for their kids.  Now there is nothing wrong with having your kids best interests at heart, however if you lose the person you are because you live for you kids what kind of role model are you being?  You’re saying when you have kids your life is over.  It's not. It's just an extension to who you are becoming NOT who you are.
SO let’s get back to CHANGE.
If I wanted to change something I would just go ahead and do it, there is no need for me to wait for a time of year to make a change.  I have lost too many years just plodding along now it's time to live life to the fullest. You just never know what tomorrow holds.

When I decided I wanted to go back to work I wanted to be healthy and fit.  I was sick of feeling lethargic and rundown so I decided to give myself a super healthy kick.  I joined a boot camp exercise group and did a juice detox.  For me, I needed to clean up the inside and outside.
 Boot Camp fitness is outdoor and it’s total madness, full on and not for the faint hearted.  I have fallen in love with it (love-hate really).  It will make you fit, change your shape, it clears out the cobwebs and you will not be able to walk the next day for the first few times.  For me it has better results than half-arsing my way around a gym.
Day 1 Juice Detox
Now Detox. If you’re going to do something, do it well and I booked myself a five day Juice Detox Programme. It was simple, no messy hard work or working out what I needed to buy and drink in what order. It just turns up at my door the night before.
 It was one of the best things I have done in a long while. I lost weight which is a bonus but more importantly I had lots of energy, my skin was clear and I woke up on day 4 ready to take on the world.  I was on a real juice high.
Fast-forward a few months and I have stuck to some of the 'lifestyle' changes. Santa gave me a new juicer (the old one died) and I still love boot camp (just maybe more in summer).
 So if you have found yourself a week and a half into 2013 and nothing is different from last year it won’t change by itself.  If you want change in any area of your life, just do it and don't wait to go on the TV and air your low points to the world.

If you want to lose weight then exercise; it’s free to hit the road and run. If you need a new image then hit the shops or charity shops - something new (to you) is new! Who cares about the price. Need to give up smoking then just stop (I did cold turkey many years ago and it can be done). Got to the library - I'm sure there is a book to help with whatever excuse you’re giving yourself for not changing something for the better.  If you’re not happy there is no person nor amount of money that will change that. You have to decide to change your thinking - the grass is not greener on the other side.

If you want a New Year and a New You then drop all the excuses and say (just like an over produced L'Oreal ad), “I'M WORTH IT”.
We have one life, let’s live it and not just survive.