Many of my graduate-scheme-job friends would be accustomed to an interview process that took weeks, even months, and involved multiple stages of elimination to reach the final paid job – but my chosen industry employs on a basis of nepotism, networking and neglecting even to read half the CVs. I must have sent out nearly a hundred job applications for positions in TV by now, plus nearing two hundred personalised emails with my updated CV, but a personal reply is as rare as a production with an over-generous budget.
However, when I applied to Zig Zag Productions, the receipt of my application form and CV was acknowledged, I had an email inviting me to the first round of interviews within a week, only a weekend passed between those and the second round of interviews, at which I was interviewed personally by the CEO, and within a day of that I got an invitation to come in for a week of work experience, with a view to a full time position at the end.
It was wonderful to see a production company take such care over their recruitment: it made every applicant feel valued; the prompt response to emails and applications made me trust the company and feel like I really wanted to be a part of it. Clearly, this company realises that it pays to take the time to respect your applicants, and I hope that Zig Zag is leading the way on this policy within the TV industry.
Last week, I spent my days working as a production assistant at Viacom, which is the massive umbrella company that owns and runs the channels MTV, VIVA, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and Bet, among others. It’s huge, based in Camden, and therefore super cool. I was working with the digital media department, Velocity, helping out as a production assistant while another member of the team was on holiday. Most of the work was admin based and relatively straightforward: it involved working on campaigns to promote films across specific channels, making the most of their audience reach. So basically, I got to see where the money comes from. There is a lot of money in advertising, co-projects and sponsors, which can be used to fund further productions. And some of these advertising projects and campaigns involve brilliant levels of creativity!
There are many, many aspects to producing TV, but all too often the business side of things is overlooked in favour of the creative content. Of course the content of a TV show must be great in order for it to have any audience interest, but the money has to come from somewhere. And your audience may not even get to see it unless you have the money to pay for your creative work’s distribution. So finding out where the money is and how to get it is a very important step for an aspiring producer like me!
As an added bonus, my colleagues were all absolutely lovely. I used an opportunity on the Friday to go to Camden Market with one of the producers, and had a great chat with him over our lunch wraps. They say it’s who you know, not what you know…and they are right. Taking a risk and having the confidence to talk to him resulted in being connected to another awesome TV person…
So as far as I know, that’s it for me and Viacom, but it opened to me a new understanding of how TV production is funded, so thanks guys! It was short and sweet, but with the possibility of more ad hoc Production Assistant flavoured sweets to come…
So this last week has seen me embarking on some research for a certain historian, in a similar vein to my previous work for Bettany Hughes. Being able to use my degree, my brain and a library again was like a getting a medal after a half marathon – invigorating, satisfying, and highly rewarding! I loved getting back into the academic rigour of research. It got me revved up for my forthcoming week at MTV; I’m so excited to find out what production assistant work involves, and to gain a higher credit on my CV, which of course will open up further job opportunities. And with only a week to go until the next comedy show, things are getting exciting again…watch this space!