Watching other presentations and comparing the experiences that my peers had with my own allowed me to evaluate and see what the next sensible stages would be.
The interesting points which I picked up on in other peoples presentations included people talking about their own Skills in relation to their specific course and the differences of this to the skills they had learnt from their experience. As a Media production student, the skills I have obtained have varied between photography, film and radio. However undertaking tasks such as researching for the community channel was something which I had to learn on the job rather than something which I had learnt before.
What I didn’t expect to learn about through watching the presentations were the differences between big and small businesses in terms of structure; for example the benefit of an automated booking system on a website for a large custom. Considering the importance of what to focus on when running a business such as competitive threats and the need for money were all useful notes for me to think about as a freelancer. The greatest skill which was repeatedly mentioned was the importance of time management, and this is a skill I would like to improve further for this reason.
Some students spoke about not having much luck when it came to finding work and the feedback for these students were that phoning and networking online, building contacts so that you the applicant isn’t just a stranger was much better than emailing a cv and hoping for the best.
In todays age linkedin isn’t even an especially sufficient way to put your name out there, I must think of new innovative ways to get people attention and be less afraid to ask people face to face to gain employment. In particular one of the students in my group made me think about the use of Multimedia to do this, being a part of radio, television and internet platforms gives you a greater viewership and therefore improves chances of catching the right persons attention.
Although this was something which I talked about in my own presentation, developing unique selling points for both the product and myself as a producer was something which we talked about. In order to compete, I need to have something which puts me out from the crowd and for me personally I feel this is a vast variety of experience and the ability to produce for young audiences and whole families.
After showing my presentation to the group, I was asked to think about how I was going to sell myself? What makes a freelance writer? and how i I can protect myself against copyright?
In order to sell myself as a writer I am going to continue developing my skills at home as well as offering them to film makers, theatre directors at increasing prices as my skills develop. I am aware that for a while I will have to make the effort to approach people rather than they approaching me.
I have since looked further into the real meaning of being a freelance writer, according to Wiki How,
A freelance writer is someone who writes without belonging to any single company or entity but acts like a small business or an independent contractor.
In order to do this, networking and gaining plenty of contacts will be vital. In terms of copyright, there is considerably less protection in the UK than in America for example, whilst we do not have a writers guild there are other means of protection which I had not thought about before. It is impossible to copyright protect an idea but I can claim intellectual property on my own work. This knowledge may save me a lot of potential heartache in the future.
Having completed my 20 days of professional experience, although many of my projects are still ongoing, I have taken the time to reflect not just on the details of what I have done as I have done in my blogs but the things that I have learnt and the route from the completion of these onto my dream job in writing for children’s media.
Using the tools around me, such as the SWOT analysis I did at the start of the module and the other artists that I have worked with have not only helped me to produce this presentation demonstrating my journey but have given me skills which I am certain will benefit me in the continuation of my professional journey.
BBC. (2014). CBBC shows A to Z. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/cbbc/a-f/. Last accessed 10th May 2014.
Calvert,S and Wilson,B. (2008). The Children’s television act. In: Calvert,S The Handbook of Children, Media and Development. West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons. p455-475.
CBS. (2014). Most popular TV shows for children. Available: http://www.tv.com/shows/category/kids/. Last accessed 4th May 2014.
Durrant,M. (2013). What is the difference between freelancer and contractor?. Available: http://workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/1524/what-is-the-difference-between-freelancer-and-contractor. Last accessed 1st May 2014.
G. Houben, K. Lenie, K. Vanhoof . (1999). Decision support systems. A knowledge-based SWOT-analysis system as an instrument for strategic planning in small and medium sized enterprises. 10 (3), p125-135.
Gunter,B. (1997). What is the nature of children’s viewing?. In: Routledge Children and Television. 2nd ed. Canada: Psychology Press. p4-10.
Having photoshopped the pictures for the Jan Foundation, edited the sounds for Lightweaver Productions and my own radio drama using Audition and edited together archival footage for a musician I used all of these skills that I have learnt over the last couple of months and put together a mix of them all in a video of the media pieces that I sourced yesterday at the newly rebranded ‘Birmingham Wildlife Conservation park’.
Using Photoshop I edited my favourite pictures, as there were so many which I wanted to use this time a simple auto tone was often enough to polish the photographs to a professional standard within the time frame that I had set myself. For some pictures, where there was glare from the lens for example, adjusting the layers was a more complex but efficient way to correct this. Zooming up closer on the photographs was a good way of overcoming the problem of fiddly editing and a shaky hand.
Having collected all of the edits into a folder, I put them together into a slide show using Picaso and exported it as a movie file. Having searched the internet for royalty free music which I felt reflected the feel of the piece, using premiere pro I fitted the visuals to this music. Editing in time in a similar way that I used with editing together the music video.
Unfortunately I did not capture a great deal of film which is something which I have learnt for the next time I undertake a similar project. Using the footage, after importing it into Photoshop meant that I could break down each shot individually and convert any clear shots that I liked into a still image. This is something that I only realised after playing around and a technique I will definitely use again. If I had bought a tripod with me and left it to record so that I could browse through the photographs later I may well have had some interesting resorts. With the footage that I did have, the photographs and the screen captures from the film I put all of these media types together into a final film using trusty old premiere pro. I really feel that my competence in using in professional standard software is improving, as I have been able to do this in a short space of time and to what I feel is a high level.
In order to determine my competence truly as a wildlife photographer I have emailed the owners of the park to see if they would like any of my edited photographs or film to use in publicity for their websites etc. Whilst I wait for a reply the exchange of publicity for me too has made me think about how I can build up a reputation and a portfolio in this way, even if the park are not interested then this is a way of sourcing work which I will persist with. Whatever happens I am developing my skills constantly.
To sell my pictures, this is the film that I put together for them to make a decision upon whether this is something which they would be interested in.
This morning I got an email from one of the producers at the Community Channel, whom as I was rather happy to hear was impressed with the initial list of features which we had composed for her and felt that the features were in fact very usable if they were feasible.
In order to comply with the typical ethos of the channel, she has asked me to find out which of these features is lottery funded, and this was my task for today. Although a simple Google search was the case in many instances to basically try and see if I could get the quota up, in other instances I was required to email and ring individuals and companies to see whether this was applicable. As this task went on my confidence most definitely grew, my biggest obstacle to overcome was ensuring that I communicated clearly between the companies as a messenger representing the channel well.
Complying with the style of a company is a skill which I hope will serve me well, as primarily a self-employed freelancer I am mostly used to producing to my own style. Being asked to follow someone else’s rules is a greater determent of my abilities and a greater opportunity to grow as a producer so I was grateful for this experience.
The other component of todays task before sending my work back to the producer was to research the features that she had suggested as well as use my own initiative to suggest which features I felt would work the most favourably.
This opportunity to think about audience demographics was advantageous, as a media producer there is little point in producing a media text without an audience in mind. Having been sent the basic details of the demographics as well as the socio-demographics for the ready made audience I wanted to source the best materials suitable. This is a large company with an already large and loyal viewership not only on the television but also online so I did not want to break the tradition in anyway.
Using my initiative, I selected the features which were what I felt to be the most attractive in terms of appealing to its audience, I deducted this based on the previous interest that the companies and individuals were receiving already online on Twitter and Facebook. Using another colour, I highlighted the features which I thought were the most feasible in terms of location and the amount of media interest that they had had before. This use of initiative helped me to make more educated decisions and I felt confident that I took control of the situation in a logical way.
I have sent off this further research and look forward to hearing back from the producers of the channel.
In order to find out the gritty details of the realities of the ways that people work within the media I conducted interviews on people from various backgrounds. Although I could not source any professionals that created media specifically for children, whether it be self employed or hired by somebody else this is a decision which I am required to think about.
With a reported ‘Self-employment boom’ and more people working for themselves than ever, is this a good or a bad thing? Not just on a personal level but also for the economy? Whilst some people argue that self-employment is responsible for a significant drop in productivity, others say that this is a new effective way to over come the lack of current employment opportunities available. But that is just what the newspapers say, what do the employers actually think?
Unfortunately, the self-employed person who was initially going to do an interview for me dropped out (most likely his schedule being one of the cons of his career life). So as a last resort I sourced an insightful interview online at http://www.freelanceadvisor.co.uk/ with freelance graphics designer and photographer Lucas Cooper. It is worth noting that, on a international blog like this a person is more likely to speak favourably and therefore less honestly about the in’s and out of their careers. Nonetheless he has some very interesting things to say.
(Self-Employed Graphics designer and photographer)
Do you have any tips for anyone looking to start out in business or looking to grow an existing business?
As an employee the emphasis tends to be on how much work you can get done. I found that when it’s your own business this changes and the focus is on the quality of services that you provide. Never compromise the quality of your work, as it is vital to your reputation and growth.
How has it been juggling your work with your personal life?
It is very varied, sometimes work is everything and other times I let life take over – for me this is the main benefit of being self-employed.
What does your typical work day look like?
Typical? Every day is different, which is the second best benefit to being your own boss.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
My biggest challenge is probably self-discipline; it is so easy to get distracted when working from home.
IAIN ALEX RIDLEY
(Apprenticeship with the BBC as an assistant editor)
(Self-employed Producer/Director for Lightweaver productions + Full time Job)
The big benefit is that you have a higher level of financial security, because you’re not reliant on the production company bringing in the money to pay your bills. This effectively allows you to find your creative direction without a lot of the external economic pressures of running a business. You tend to find as well that you bring a lot of the business sensibilities to running the production company (negotiating, risk assessment, planning etc), conversely it heightens your level of creative thinking within the environment of your contracted job.
Time is a big issue. It can be difficult to run both, particularly when getting ready to film a production like “Deception”. Without the contracted job you’d have all the hours in the day to go through the logistics of pre-production, send emails, work on the film, shoot it, work on post-production and so on. With the job you have evenings and weekends. Having said that when you’ve got just 2 hours in an evening to redraft a script or compose a score it can certainly help you focus very quickly – trust me I speak from experience 🙂
Good organisational and management skills. When you only have evenings and weekends to work, combined with 6 weeks for a project to go from concept to handing over the discs to a client you have to ensure that not only is the work done ontime but that it is done to the highest standard available. If you don’t and you either miss the deadline or the work is sloppy then it will be your reputation which suffers, along with any future commissions. Do it right and you’ll get good referrals and repeat work.
Although this is hardly a representative survey of peoples experiences with different work lives because of the few people that I asked and the sheer variety of jobs in the media as talked about by Paul, it has been useful for me to see (as well as build contacts) and compare the pro’s and con’s of different work environments. This has encouraged me to think about where I place myself currently and where I will in the future, based on my lifestyle and my own strengths and weaknesses. As a writer, statistically amongst another 4.2 million writers in the UK quoted as of 2 days ago (The Guardian 2014) I will most likely be self employed, as a writing screenplays is an extremely competitive industry, to better ensure financial security I feel personally that combining free-lance with a part time or full time job is an option that would suit me.
Iain spoke rather (brutally) honestly about the good and bad sides of his apprenticeship. Whilst he was given a great opportunity to expand his skills, financially he was not as stable as he would have liked to have been, or stable enough to rely on this opportunity full time. This difference between pure art, and creating work that sells seems to be a hard truth for the industry today. Whilst I would love the opportunity to expand my skills, obviously I need to be able to survive too.
Speaking to Paul about my own strengths was interesting, whilst I have reflected throughout this module where I feel I place myself and wish to, Paul is somebody of whom I have worked for for years from my earliest years of my career so he has really seen me grow. His emphasis on my passion was reassuring that I am on the right track to whichever form of career, whether that be contracted, self-employed or even both that I choose.
Day Twenty-One- Wildlife photography at the Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park; Spread your wings now. Bugger off you weirdo!
A major thing that this module has taught me is that, not only are there plentiful opportunities around me to build on my skills but there are also many occasions where I can gain professional experience, there is never any harm in asking!
I went on a day trip to the fabulous wildlife conservation park in Birmingham with the initial intention of developing my competence as a wildlife photographer. Having taken a trip to Twycross zoo before, I felt that my skills were lacking and with the struggles I felt with the lighting for my Jan foundation event photography placement I made a conscious effort to polish off these visual skills. I wanted to leave the park feeling that my skills did not lay singularly with sound when it came to the technical aspects of media production but with the visual aspect too, and this is a feeling which I achieved!
The thing about photographing animals, is that they are entirely unpredictable. This throws in new challenges as well as opportunities for a photographer as although the way they move one moment may be unique and beautiful, the next moment they might jump out the frame or worse start getting a bit rampant…awkward.
Although, it was hard to stay focused sometimes with the speed of which the subjects were moving and I swear they were on to me with the amount of buttocks and other things I had facing the lens, this was exactly the challenge that I needed. Much harder than capturing an actor I had directed, as in where I recorded the sound for ‘Crash’ as these creatures can happily do what they like, this type of photography requires a lot of patience.
Armed with my new skills about ways around not using a flash because of my experience with the Jan Foundation proved to be very useful. As it is upsetting to use a flash on animals I upped the ISO and made the most of the natural ambient lighting around me where I could instead. This time it paid off and I felt more competent as a photographer for it.
Whilst capturing people is good fun (in the photography sense), it made a nice change to capture a subject with twice as many legs and an occasional bushy tail. Emphasising the colour, and seeing how it effects emotions is a feature of stimulating children’s media and therefore one I would really like to master.
With about 200 pictures, my next step is to edit them to a standard which I hope the centre would like to use for their own publicity in exchange for the promotion of mine. I will do this by using the industry standard editing software photoshop.
Looking back on my work experience I have learnt a lot, not just technically as a media producer but also about my own strengths and weaknesses as one too.
Freelance- Producing a radio Drama and developing publicity
This was by far the easiest placement to source! Being a freelancer in addition to contracted work offered me a good insight into the two and which suited me the most. I really enjoyed the freedom that freelancing gave me in sourcing my own project, sourcing a placement close to what I want to do with children’s media was difficult within the time frame but by doing it myself I could just get on with it. Being responsible for everything not only taught me a lot about managing myself but also gave me an insight into absolutely everything, from casting, writing, directing and editing and this was very beneficial. I feel that I have learnt a lot from this project which will benefit me in the future, I have more confidence in that I am technically able to script for children and that this is something which I enjoy.
Lightweaver – Sound for short film
In contrast to my freelance work, other than actors, this project did and still is as an ongoing project requiring me to work as a team. The film being passed on from editing to SFX and to me as one of the latter stages of editing is very satisfying in that I have a big deal of responsibility to the final product of the film. Having a director as a boss also, has helped to develop as a producer from learning and evolving from the feedback I have constantly been given. Working as a freelancer, it is beneficial to find my own ways of evaluating my success but having a boss above me from the same background, means that I can get a professional outside view much more easily. In terms of the task itself, editing the sound for the film was challenging but allowed me to grow as a media producer, this combined with doing the sound for cooler as well as my own radio drama has made me think seriously about potentially working with sound.
The production of this short film is still underway and I am certain that I will grow more through every draft of the sound that I do until completion, I am determined to get it perfect for everybody in the Lightweaver team and have been offered more work in the future. I feel that this is a good sign for my growth as a producer, also as a sound person.
I will also continue to develop my online presence continuously so that I build my fellowship, so that both my audience and potential employers can see my work. Feedback in this way is a way which I know I can grow from.
Jan Foundation- Event photography
Although this was a short project, the fast paced nature of it has taught me a lot about my ability to handle tight schedules and adjusting quickly to a workplace. This project was extremely rewarding socially, knowing that I was putting my skills to a good cause also whereas freelance writing can be a bit lonely at times and can take a while to be rewarding, being thanked at the end of one long shift made a big difference to my approach to editing, to be reminded of the cause.
Technically I learnt a lot about photography too, I was a little disappointed at some of the photos that I took on the night but have since as a result of this learnt more about using aperture and ISO in poor lighting conditions.
As a result, the Jan Foundation have asked me to help with the marketing of their new merchandise range by taking pictures for their website. Again, I feel like this is a good sign that I have proven myself professionally competent in this area.
Musician- Music video
The way that I sourced this contract in itself was educational, I am further understanding the importance of networking and advertising my skills in order to attract attention. The benefit of undertaking this project is that I was given the chance to extend on existing skills, having played around with archival footage before I felt quite confident about it.
Working for a client again, this time an artist from a different background in music rather than film gave me an insight into professional creative collaboration. Coming to a compromise between two interpretation is at times more difficult than relying on my own initiative but also has its advantages to better my own ideas.
As the musician has asked me to create more films for him, and would therefore like the additional use of my skills. I feel that I am learning fast in this area of music video making, even though that this is something which I had never done professionally before.
This is the most professional placement that I have sourced, knowing that I would be contributing to a programme that will actually be aired on television to a large audience bought with it greater responsibility to push myself.
However, as the circumstances unraveled to a vastly reduced-in-numbers team of researchers I also got to develop my skills as a team leader and feel that I did this well. I am still waiting to hear from the channel but I feel that I made the most of a limiting situations and this is something vital to learn off. Above everything else this was a project quite different to what I had done before so was very insightful to try something in the very early stages of pre-production.
I feel quite strongly, looking back on my experiences and original swot analysis and how that has changed, that my strengths lie in pre-production and all of these jobs have shaped me to do this better than before they commenced.