Work Experience for Flame TV

So, the BBC have commissioned a tester tape for the India documentary!  I’ll be shooting that on Monday with Russ Malkin.  After that, it’s an edit and waiting for a BBC decision to be made, which will take some time.  So, in the meantime, I’m trying to be as productive as possible and get some contacts, skills and experience.

First stop was a week of work experience at Flame.  Flame produce Don’t Get Done, Get Dom, among other consumer shows.  Not my ideal genre, but I thought it would be a great chance to see the production end of television.  The commute is two hours there and two and a half hours back, and apart from travel I was doing this for free.  “Why?” you might ask.

This year, I committed to making my dream of a career in television a reality.  I realised I could spend a year doing a broadcast MA, spending £10,000, living as a student and not being guaranteed a career at the end of it.  Or, I could use that time and money to gain experience and get advice that would be more than worth that vocational qualification.

So was my week at Flame worth it?  You bet.  Lots of people slate work-experience as free labour.  And yes, I was making cups of tea.  And yes, I was trawling through consumer forums.  And yes I wasn’t earning any money.  But, I would be paying money to do an MA.  And I did learn about programme-making and I improved my skills.  The most important thing to consider is to make the most of your time.  You can hide away and pass your week of Work Experience learning very little.  Instead, I made sure that I made the most of every opportunity given to me – I put forward ideas; I used my research experience to the max and I asked lots of questions; I asked for the chance to go on shoots; I asked how everything worked; I offered to make tea; I made sure I remembered everyone’s name; Even when I was tired, I upped my game and enjoyed getting to know people; I asked to have 5 minutes with people to ask their advice on what was the best thing to do next or how to go in a certain direction.

The result was I got to know some producers personally, so they took my CV at more than face value.  I found out about resources, such as the Unit List.  I left a good impression and the next time someone is looking for a researcher, they might remember me.  And I now have a new credit on my CV.  By talking to more experienced people, it helped me figure out what jobs I should be targeting and at what level – and what would be taking me away from the direction I want to pursue.  I received advice for my documentary and I have made acquaintances who will be happy to stay in touch.

And I enjoyed it.  The people who work in TV production are nice.  The atmosphere is good and people are proud of their work.  And I actually enjoyed the work.

So, if you are considering getting a vocational qualification and spending a year of time and money, think about how you might be able to invest those resources in a slightly more creative way.

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About Ash Bhardwaj

A storyteller, travel writer, journalist and film-maker. I am a regular contributor to Huffington Post, The Telegraph and the Sunday Times Travel Magazine. I spent much of 2013 working on Walking The Nile, Levison Wood's attempt to walk the world's longest river. I founded Digital Dandy, a video storytelling company, in 2012 to produce content for brands and businesses.
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