TCC Talks: Positive Change for the Media Industry
As an agency we’re always trying to make sure that beside our daily work, our actions represent specific values. Especially this year we really want to be part of the discussion related to change in the media industry, and create more and more meaningful connections between freelancers, and clients.
That’s why we decided to continue our TCC Talks series that we started in January this year. We had three successful talks in the first few months of the year focussing on the freelancer journey, and how to make it a success, but as time went on so many more important topics started to take centre stage, so we decided to expand our subject matter…and venue.
With TCC Talks initially being held over zoom, this time we were particularly excited that, thanks to the sponsorship help by Kingsbridge, this time we could do it in person, and finally meet you all face-to-face. Because of the events of the last few years, we knew from the beginning that we would like to focus on the positive aspect of the industry we work in. After many brainstorms as a team, we decided to moderate the panel discussion about the positive change for the media industry, and more importantly, encourage people to connect through the networking during the event.
We know that after the last three years the landscape and feel of the industry has changed quite dramatically, with some really crucial matters coming to light; including skills gap, burn out, job sharing and inclusion. That’s why we chose to invite guests who can help us understand some of these areas better, and what is out there to tackle them – in came Michelle Reynolds, and Sarah Joyce who are both strongly related to the dynamic change that is happening. Michelle co-founded Share My Telly Job in 2018 following a 17 year career as a Producer and Director in Factual and Entertainment TV in the UK and the US. Sarah manages the Children’s TV Skills and Unscripted Television Skills Fund at Screenskills, working with industry to set and deliver the strategy for investments and skills support across both areas. She has a 25-year industry background in the screen industries having started her career in post-production before moving to production. The conversation was hosted by TCC Managing Director Laura Davis, and TCC Talent Manager Aimée Johnston, and the whole event sponsored by Kingsbridge who specialise in insurance for freelancers.
The panel started with Michelle explaining what job sharing really means, and why it’s often wrongly recognised as something for women (especially mums) or people in the early stages of their careers. The truth is it’s more about supporting freelancers in general by giving them more options, and helping them realise that job sharing is a feasible option, whether that’s to embark on juggling parenthood & the industry, to kickstart another career alongside your media one, to care for a family member or just that you want to have a better balance in life. Most people tackle their jobs solo, but in the media industry this can prove to be quite stressful, especially if you have other life commitments. We’ve heard of stories of people making the heard decision to leave the industry and the job they love, as the long hours of production just make it too difficult to continue. After chatting with Michelle, whilst at first glance it may appear that sharing jobs is only for the excel-office type projects, turns out this is not the case. Share My Telly Job has proven that it also works really well in the more creative roles, when through collaborating on jobs you can discover new ways of completing projects, learn from the other person, feel supported, and create a final output you wouldn’t be able to create on your own. Michelle also mentioned the interesting fact that job sharing is becoming more popular among camera operators who, thanks to this possibility, can finally find the right life-work balance, and spend some more time with their families.
Sarah gave us her thoughts on the problem related to many freelancers and clients, the skills gap. We all agreed that there is definitely a need of changing the approach in education, but also the clients’ approach who often don’t really think about the future of the individual in a long-term perspective. How can we help? Michelle answered sharing some easy ways of supporting freelancers like creating FB or WhatsApp groups dedicated to a specific job where they can share their experiences, rates or other issues on a daily basis. Sarah also explained that there are a number of free training courses on Screenskills that freelancers can utilise to upskill, and there are available bursaries that you can apply for that can cover things like paying for kit you can’t afford, or driving lessons if it will help you further your career, or get a job further afield.
Fortunately many production companies are starting to realise that supporting freelancers’ growth and career progression is beneficial not only for their upcoming projects, but also for the industry in general. Organisations such as Screenskills offer mentoring programs, grants or other forms of support to help freelancers, especially in the more junior positions with gaining more confidence or more experienced freelancers what to change their career path.
We can proudly admit that one of TCC’s missions is education and keeping the conversations going, trying to shift things forward. We are doing this through staying in touch with universities and media training programmes, understanding how we can work together to help filter what down what clients’ needs are, and for these courses to influence us in what the new generation of media professionals are hoping for. We do things such as putting on presentations on how to write CV’s or create a high quality reels, and how to gain and retain clients. Keeping the conversation with the students open is beneficial both ways. Thanks to this, we can stay in the loop with new ideas, and follow how the media industry is changing. This summer we decided to start our Rising Talent programme, to help nurture new talent as they embark on a career in the media industry, whilst also trying to help tackle the skills shortage our clients are facing. We plan to return each year with our 8 month programme were 10 Rising Talent will join our roster and be paired up with a freelancer mentor. Our pilot run this year is already proving successful with two of them having already been booked out on their first freelance job!
Coming back to the main subject of the panel, are there any positive changes for the media industry? Certainly yes! Surprisingly, whilst the pandemic had significantly impacted many freelancers and clients, it also proved to be an opportunity to re-evaluate and reflect on freelancers’ lives, and the media industry in general. Freelancers simply started to question the industry, asking clients for feedback, connecting with each other, being more aware of mental health, sharing their problems related to specific jobs and the industry as a whole. Some freelancers are now more confident about their own expectations, and the treatment they deserve as a dedicated freelancer to the industry. This ripple effect then encourages clients to make the effort to listen to these needs and make sure they are playing their part to make skilled people stay in the industry.