SO after 3 weeks in London, being slave labour at the BBC, I've come to a couple conclusions...
-Talking to people about their dog's poo can be more interesting than I thought. I was helping to cast dogs and their owners (known as 'contributors' in TV lingo), and I learned a lot along the way--and not just about dogs.
-The BBC is not as bad as Gavin and others made it out to be. My producers did have a strong code of ethics and a love of good documentaries. They do shows like Dog Borstal (not as bad as most crap on BBC3) between doing projects they're passionate about. It pays the bills. And in this business, you're lucky if you have steady work that pays the bills. What filmmaker/actor DOESN'T do one crap money-maker to make the films s/he loves?
-Some people at the BBC really are just as bad as Gavin made them out to be--and worse. I overheard a conversation between a commisioning exec and a producer about a show they wanted to call Bare-Naked Ladies (like the band) to get people to watch. They've recently been working on shows called How big are your breasts? and Help! My dog's arse is as fat as mine! I kid you not. These people make me want to burn down the BBC.
-For people like us, work experience at the BBC is perfect for 1)your CV 2)a foot in the door and 3) connections to other production companies. I left last Friday with two A4's full of contacts (producers/directors and production companies) to send my CV to. No one else is going to tell you this, other than those in the business and those in-the-know. I feel SOOOOO much better now about getting a job in documentaries after this course.
-Despite a veneer of organisation and calm, producers are spontaneous and last minute when it comes to hiring people. I told a producer working on WWII: Behind Closed Doors that I speak Russian. She said, 'Great! Can you start Monday?' I just about cried when I told her I had to come back to Manc to return to Uni that day and work at the Stationery Box. If you send out your CVs, be ready to start the next day when the producer phones you.
-CV's: I sat down the head of HR for researchers/runners (essentially, us when we start at a production company) and he helped me re-structure my CV to send to producers. I will write another posting about how to do a CV for the TV industry. Stay tuned...
-MAVAs kick ass! No one else there doing work experience had the training we have had. I knew more about their Sony cameras and Sennheiser radio mics than the producers! We have skills that we can use to our advantage--we arrive at their doorstep pre-trained, so we can more quickly get jobs on camera or sound.
-As much as I loved being at the BBC, we're probably best off sending our CVs to independent production companies first (I'll make a list in another posting). It's much easier at indies to climb the ranks and go to camera or sound jobs, rather than wasting a year or two at the BBC as a runner. The BBC has so few jobs right now in Factual & Learning (docs and reality TV). They're contracting those out to the indies, for the most part.
SO those are just a handful of my reflections. There will be postings to come with CV advice and a list of independent production companies we can send those pretty little CVs to.