|From left, Jude Winstanley, Jaffar Ali, Beaumont Lowenthal, Stephen Partridge, Scott Humphries, Andy Thomas and Thom Day|
The panelists were:
Jude is experienced in pre-recorded and live transmissions, studio and location based programming and hostile environments. Specialist skills include negotiating contracts, fees and clearance rights with talent, crew, production staff, archive materials, locations, publicity, schedule planning for all areas of the project (prep, production, post and delivery), advising on Health & Safety procedures to ensure safe working environments, Risk Assessments and tapeless workflows.
How did the panel members get started in the industry?
Jaffar Ali had been looking for 3D roles when Bucks sent him an email about an opportunity at Vizrt, a global provider of virtual sets for broadcast companies. At interview, they asked him how he would solve a problem on production? Jaffar explained that he would seek help from others in the building - just as he did at Bucks, when he would ask his tutors for backup and support on group projects when things didn't always go to plan.
Beaumont Lowenthal talked about how important it is simply to ring up your contacts and ask if there is work available. He did a lot of networking, which led to some lucky breaks, and in his case, luck and persistence paid off. He contacted "hundreds of people", and got "five or ten responses". One of those contacts led to his current career.
Thom Day talked about how his early jobs often cost him more in travel expenses than he received in pay. But he got work out of these early gigs and the commitment paid off in the end.
He also talked about how keen he was in the early days to learn "everything there was to know" about digital media, and recommended that students should do as many online tutorials as possible. Andy eventually ended up at URS, a global company, and pitched them the idea of building a hub of digital artists in-house to do all the 3D development work for URS. Surprisingly, "they went for it" and he now "runs a team of fifteen artists".
Thom Day started as a runner, and tried to do the best work he could to get noticed, to meet editors, "sitting in during lunch breaks and after work", to "get his face known", and eventually "got promoted to Avid assistant". He said you've got to be "willing to do the crap jobs" to get started.
Jude Winstanley warned against "aiming too high". Be ambitious, but be realistic as well. You can move up the ladder once you are in, but don't aim too high at the start of your career. She reminded us that film and TV production is a freelance business: "there are no staff jobs".
|The Unit List - Jude Winstanley's website. Free!|
What makes a good CV?
Thom Day said you've got to get your CV to the right person, and make sure your CV looks nice, is short and punchy, and has all the main points at the top.
|Make it good|
Andy Thomas says he likes people who phone in and don't just email their CV. Three members of his current team got their job "by cold-calling". He does also run a test for candidates at interview - an AfterEffects test, to see if the candidates really know how to do what they say they can do. Lots of applicants don't really know how to do what is on their demo reel. Andy once interviewed a candidate who - astonishingly - showed him one of Andy's own online tutorials and presented it as his own work!
Scott reiterated that a phone call can be important. Sending out emails can be a "pointless" exercise.
Beaumont Lowenthal emphasised that you need to re-do your CV for each client; tailor it so that "you're not just sending out the same CV to each employer". In the end though, "it's all about referrals". Recommendations count.
Jude Winstanley, who does a lot of recruitment, and is always on the lookout for fresh talent, complained about students with annoying answerphone messages, which made her want to move on to the next candidate. She said that CVs for TV production follow a certain layout - and that students should follow this. Key skills need to be right up there. Can you drive? Can you drive a lorry? Do you speak French? What cameras can you? Then, she wants to see your experience, in reverse order - most recent jobs at the top.
Should graduates accept unpaid work?
Jude Winstanley stressed the importance of not accepting unpaid work, which she described as "illegal" - although doing two weeks of unpaid work experience is permissible. Also, she added, students can be employed for free, but not graduates. Scott Humphries said he sometimes "took payment in microphones" when he started out, working for bands who he knew could not afford to pay him.
|Learn to use it|
Thom Day said that a good knowledge of Premiere is increasingly necessary at ITV, not just Avid, which is gradually giving way to Premiere. Jude Winstanley said that Photoshop is now a requirement, and people don't get hired without it. She also recommended learning SEP, Avid, and After Effects.
(Editor's Note: For more on jobs and employability, read our guide to getting your first job. For posts on what studios look for in a great demo reel, try this link, hear what London's Blue Zoo has to say about finding work, and take a look at this video by Sony Pictures Animation. You can also watch Alex's ten minute video on creating a great reel, and read this post on the perfect demo reel. Also, check out our guide to animation careers here, and also take a look at this map of digital studios - a great place to start your search for work in the business. Learn the nuts and bolts of freelance life by reading our guide to invoicing clients, and our guide to putting together a great CV.)