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Trains, Trams and Fast Track

21 Nov

Well, it wasn’t fast trains, or a barrel of laughs for me this morning. What a nightmare it was getting back from Manchester with the flooding, delays, signalling problems and everything else that has been going on. Despite that I had a great day yesterday at MediaCity UK at the very first BBC Fast Train Track workshop day. It was basically a day where those who have worked in the industry for two years, or had a least three well established credits on their CV could attend various masterclasses, seminars, workshops and LIVE interactive sessions in all things media that ranged from TV to Film, Radio to pitching, Screenwriting to editing and much much more. As it was a day that started at 9am and ended at 7pm, I went for three classes and the networking event for afters, and because it being a trek from the East midlands it was afternoon classes all around. Once I’d made it to manchester, drop my case at the hotel and jumped on the MetroLink it was easy sailing to the North. The first class of the day was ‘How to Crack Careers’, which of course the title answers for itself what it is about. The session consisted of a chair woman who introduced the speakers of the day, one of which I know through another one of my media contacts up North. It was interesting learning how each person had got into this industry through various routes, means and connections and all the advice they passed on to us was so helpful that everyone was scribbling away so hard on their pads of paper that I thought they were going to start a fire. Though that wouldn’t have lasted long as it was pouring with rain, and as everyone always says to me ‘It always rains up North’.

 

Before my next session I decided to kill some time in the careers corner, where I and so many other people wondered round the different tables/ stalls of all media training companies, ITV, unions, Creative England and loads more. I was drawn to the ITV tables, as the had loads of give aways not just the typical pens and paper but also ‘TEXT SANTA’ Christmas hats, key-rings, and stuffed animal toys that unfortunately I and no-one else could take away though it would have been so cool to walk away with a toy kangaroo, or dragon. I got a surprise when I saw a familiar face at the Creative England table, Nicky, who I had seen only a week ago at a previous event and it was great to have a catch up before going to the next session on my agenda….

This was Drama Management, mainly learning about the work and roles of Line Producer/ Production Managers. Now I know how much work my friend Terry has to put in on a daily basis with TV and Films he works on, but I guess its all part and parcel of the game. One thing I will not forget immediately about the area we had our session in is the flamboyantly striking chairs,  that immediately made me think that Paul Smith had designed them, maybe he did? After whizzing through so much in an hour it was a quick dash to the next building for the final session; Cutting Edge look into Current Affairs. meeting the people behind the numerous programmes, only to name a few ‘Dispatches, Panorama, BBC 3 docs and loads more. Although most of the discussion centred on trust issues because of the news night programme about Jimmy Savile, everything that each spokesperson said was brilliant and the questions that followed and all the advice that was given.

Of course the overall highlight of the evening was the networking, and the drinks and trust me there was lots and lots of it, I would say enough to sink a battleship. After a few words from the boss of BBC North, Peter Salmon who thanked everyone for attending, the speakers and awarded a person who had pitched an idea to a panel of BBC Execs a cheques for 5K, all I can say is well one to that person and hope her idea develops and is a success. I even got the opportunity to shake hands with Peter Salmon and other people as well as hand out a few business cards. As I was completely shattered from the travel and the whole day I just got on the MLink and just went back to the hotel and chilled from the day. Next mission on the cards is to get home, forward copies of my CV to my new found friends and doing everything else I couldn’t do before I left (despite being hindered by the rain I made it back annoyed but ok). I just hope there are more and future events I can go to as I have so much fun going to these gatherings, and hope that my next activity is just as good. There is something in the pipeline but I don’t want to say yet, no spoilers yet folks, not until I have all confirmed.

Keeping reading and enjoy x

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Diary of an Usher

25 Jul

Greetings everyone

As I’d mentioned previously that I would be away for a while, working at Pinewood Studios, as an Audience Usher I can now share with my experience and how totally awesome it was being at Pinewood Studios. Went down to Iver Heath on the Thursday and after getting my details sorted at the gate I found where I needed to go and met Mickey Beese, the Studio Manager for numerous programmes and for the one I would be helping out on; ‘Love Machine’. I met her other colleague Emma Kelly, the lady who had originally contacted me about runner vacancies that I was unsuccessful with, and others in the office. I was then given a tour of where I and the other ushers would be taking the audience to during the five days filming would commence, and whilst in the studio I met Neil again (one of the camera crew guys who I’d worked with on Embarrassing Bodies). I then got to meet the rest of the ushers and I learnt that some were newbies to this type of work, like me, and others who had worked as ushers on previous shows. Down in Slough and anywhere South the weather was perfect, no clouds and the sun shone practically everyday. Though I did get an enormous shock during my time at Pinewood; I had heard from Mickey and another usher that a well-known actress was at Pinewood working on a film and I thought when I heard that that I wouldn’e see her. Well, on Friday I was so wrong; whilst I was at my dissignated spot for escorting people to the studio numerous buggies were going by and one in particular had tinted screens down and I saw the silhouette of the person mentioned. At first I wasn’t 100% sure it was her, second time I became 75%sure and on the third time the tinted plastic shades were up and it was confirmed. Unfortunately, like the official secrets act I cannot reveal the name, though if you want to leave me your guesses feel free to.

Although the role of an usher is escorting audience members to and from the car park to the studio, marquee and anywhere else, liasing with staff and security, ensuring there are no problems, observing everything and anything that happens I really did enjoy my time. In a way the role was like an immigration officer (and the role came with a neon jacket and walkie talkie head set) I will confess that I had never considered ushering as another way of gaining experience within TV and Films I will when offered more opportunities I will say yes without a hesitation.

I will also say that having a simple conversation with others who work at the studio can be immensely helpful. This I especially learned when talking to the security guards who parted some very sound advice, and I hope I have remembered their names of the guys I spoke to; Jon, Darren/ Louis, James and Alex. Watching the show was really interesting some of the people who featured in the upcoming series when it will be aired I do not know, though I, the rest of the crew and the different audiences did get a laugh out of Chris Moyles and Stacey Solomon during the five days the were filming.

When my time came to an end with Pinewood I was sad becasue I had really enjoyed myself and I a great time working at the studio. Before leaving to head home to the East Midlands, I said my goodbyes to everyone I had worked with and seen during my time there and Mickey mentioned that if there are any future ushering opportunities that she will will let me know, as she would like to have me back. So that made my day, and I really hope that there are more ushering opportunites soon to come. Before I left, I sotred a few more things out and asked the very nice people in the reception to take my picture to show everyone my time being in Iver Heath.

Before I forget I need to say a thank you to Mickey, as one of the days I was working it was really hot, so I borrowed one of the Pinewood caps in the office and Mickey said to me that I could have it. I thought she met for the next day, oh no, have it to kep for good, which I thought was really kind off her. Another surprise was the guys at the reception saying I could keep my I.D and neck band. So I came away with a few souvenirs of my time and I really hope I get to go back really soon, hope you guys enjoy reading about my time at Pinewood. So I have now decided on other routes of getting into media, not solely as a runner, and with this keep my eyes peeled for other opportunities and will hopefully have more to share with you.

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