TV on the cheap

I either got into TV at the wrong time or trying to be slightly more positive about things, the right time. I digress...

As I'm looking for work at the mo, and this may sound a little "out-theree", I've been browsing the various jobs sites (productionbase and the like) and applying for the various jobs I find. What I have noticed, and I'll get to the specific instance that's prompted this post in a sec, is that the whole "multi-skilling" thing is really hitting hard now.

Of course this isn't a new thing, but I think the big big push started around the time I did, around that time is when the BBC announced it's Creative Desktop initiative which got all the editors up in arms, and I think things have really snowballed since then.

I'm currently at Researcher going on AP level, now at a very basic level a researcher is a contributor and fact finder, obviously that's not how it works in today's industry which thankfully means I've had a lot of very good experience in other areas, some which would normally be attributed to an AP's role, some to a co-ordinator and a fair bit of technical.

But it seems that in today's industry's climate, increasingly the roles within the production team are becoming blurred and the jobs that are advertised, especially at Researcher level are more DoEverythingForResearcherMoneyOrJustUnder roles. This especially with the surge in digital startups delivering their content solely via web pages and thus working to negligible budgets.

When I took stock of my options just over two years ago when I started, I decided to go the editorial route in TV for a number of reasons, one of the main ones being that; looking at the career path, I could set myself a target of AP (Assistant/Associate Producer) which would give me the most well rounded job role, i.e.; writing, shooting and editing, based on the Creative Desktop model and where people were speculating the industry was heading.

Now I find myself in a position where at least half the researcher jobs I look at involve a broader job role than my initial AP target! And when you look at AP ads from the same places (if they've posted them), they're practically the same job.

So... where does that leave me? Essentially I could get what I want, probably sooner than I'd expected, from my job role, doing a bit of everything, getting the broadest experience, but at what cost?

The post that prompted me to write this I saw this morning on one of the various job sites, advertising for an Assistant Producer. I thought I'd have a look, see if it was something I could feasibly apply for, and while reading the post i got to a line which read "Must be an experienced director...", hold on they must've copy-pasted the wrong job ad in, so I scroll up to check and no, they're advertising for an Assistant Producer (Director). Now AP's have been required to be able to shoot for some time now, but to specifically state 'Director' in the job title is a new one on me at least.

In factual at least, as far as I'm aware the next step up from AP would be to P/D (Producer/Director), but now it seems that job is being eroded into the AP role, at least that's what this particular ad would imply. And this is not for some random internet startup.

Now obviously I've been aware of the whole "multi-skilling" thing from day one, but today I'm mulling it over (again), is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Good:- Get a wide and varied job role, encompassing many skills, building on many talents

Bad:- Slower career progression? With more AP and PD roles being given Researcher titles?
Money and this is quite a significant thing to think about.. (I'll use random numbers here to illustrate as rates vary (and we don't live in the 80's anymore) and I'm not gonna go look up the pact figures this morning at least)

Researcher: £500/wk +
Assistant Producer: £750/wk +
Production Co-Ordinator: £450/wk +
Producer/Director: £900/wk +
Camera operator: £750/wk (3 days) +
Offline Editor: £1000/wk

Total: £4,350/wk (approx)

That'd be pretty good for an AP (Director) wage wouldn't it? Or in some of the cases I've applied for, a Researcher wage. And I forgot sound (classic TV mistake ).

It's an interesting time for TV people, this kicked off with the introduction of satellite and digital, and a shitload of smaller and niche channels with substantially lower advertising revenue and thus production budgets, but now those budgets are shrinking even more with the greater diversity of niche programming available online, and although I'd love to be earning four grand a week as a researcher, I also, simply and like everyone else out there, need work.

So was this a good time or a bad time for me to get into TV? A bit of both I think, but then that's just the way it is, cest la vie and all that. If I'm gonna stick with this route (as opposed to a technical one, which is an option), I just need to be the best damned multi-skilled worker I can be.

After all, it's quality not quantity ;)

NB: Note that I didn't mention the company or where the AP(D) ad was, any industrious people could probably find it, but my intention was not to criticise the company who placed the ad, merely talk about my observations of the industry as a whole.


I'd say any time is good to get in the industry. Heck, when I was running for free on the Big Breakfast and Ruth whatsaname was producing Thursday shows, would I ever guess she'd go on to produce Weakest Link which must have netted her a fair packet? Or when I gave up running for figurative peanuts for Guy Ritchie to work for Planet24, did I guess he'd now be shacked up with Madonna?! Damn. It's matter of getting a toehold and staying there. Now I find myself in a semi-fortunate situation of cherry picking work and specialising in location sound recording (double system, don't you just know it!) ... but am pretty much an outsider cos I just couldn't pay the bills otherwise without the day job. Damn. And to rub the salt in the day job now pays equal to what a typical sound recordist would earn at the top of his game (according to a survey I was reading in Broadcast whilst nobbing it up on the Eurostar going to a bigwig meeting).

So frankly, fuck all that. It's not what you know, it's not even how much you get paid. Ideas are free, and a great idea - well executed - will reap you great rewards. It's not what you know, it's who you know, blah blah blah. The problem for me has always been knowing enough brilliant people (who generally herd like cats) and bringing them together for that definitive masterpiece, for next to nothing. Hasn't happened yet, but I'll keep going (not least because Sexton Lovecraft should be shootable in a year or two). The Rutles said it best: all you need is cash. (For the marketing budget, and to pay proper BECTU money).

Good gawd I've drivelled on today, sorry about that.

10:01 pm, June 25, 2007  

Newer Post Older Post Home

Blogger Template by Blogcrowds.