“Life is your movie, write your script” (and other TV advice).

I love Twitter. Whilst being a GREAT place to stalk interesting people doing interesting things it’s also an invaluable resource for collecting and distributing advice.

So TV Tweeps here’s some great advice I’ve seen floating around on Twitter recently. Consolidated for your ease and comfort….

You can all buy me a pint afterwards.

p.s. I don’t pretend to know everything because I’m just starting out myself, but I have added a few bits of advice as well.

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How to not SCREW UP as a Runner.

TV Watercooler is excellent (like you didn’t know this already). It’s a site full of blunt experienced TV types looking to impart their wisdom on the youth of today. Even if it does take the form of “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON’T SHAG A COLLEAGUE”.

Anyhoo. Here’s a OOOOH SHINY linky link to a thread specifically aimed at newbie runners. It’s always having stuff added to it, so it’s better to give you the whole site to have a gander at.

Runner’s essential checklist 

My own brief points for running on a shoot:

1. Punch a hole in your call sheet, attach it to a lanyard, loop it into your jeans and shove it in your back pocket. That way you won’t leave it laying around. NEVER LEAVE IT LAYING AROUND. In telly that is the equivalent of a criminal offense.

2. Always carry two sharpies. One you can give to whoever desperately needs one (there’s always someone sniffing around.)  They are like gold.

3. Don’t screw the crew. Never, ever screw your colleague’s partner………yeah I don’t know what she was thinking either.

4. Keep your float money separate from your own money. Never leave a receipt behind. They’ll get lonely and your Production Manager might just use you as a sacrifice to the commissioning gods.

5. Find out pre-shoot where the nearest corner shop is so you can hastily grab decent biscuits and bottles of water and plead for directions to the nearest cafe/ tea distribution centre.

6. For the LOVE OF GOD SMILE. Be chirpy, even if you are ill/tired/grouchy/hungover……don’t be hungover.

7. Go to the pub with everyone afterward YOU have finished (even if it means joining them later). Don’t get as drunk as your director- you might have to put him in a cab afterwards.

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TV tips for (freelance) Telly Workers

The Unitlist (COMEON you must have heard of this frankly awesome job finding site) recently asked around for general bits of advice. The result of which is this excellent Storyify.

TV Tips for Telly Workers 

READ READ READ.

You are a sponge. 

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How to be a Tip Top Children’s TV Presenter

I swiped this off of another blog. Unashamedly so because it’s GOOD STUFF. The original is here and gives information about the writer, TV Producer Guy Lambert.

1. Know your subject

It’s amazing how many people contact me to say “I want to be a kid’s presenter”, yet seem to know absolutely nothing about it. Quoting programmes you watched as a kid isn’t good enough: you have to know what your audience watch now. Plus this is vital research to work out where your style of presenting may fit.

2. Know your audience

Although children’s TV is a genre, a children’s audience can be anything from a newborn to a 16 year-old. Few people think about which age-group it is they’d like to present for, so end up failing to impress producers who need to know. Work out what type of presenter you’d love to be and aim for that.

3. First impressions are vital

When you email a producer, your audition has already begun. Your first sentence is vital. Don’t waste it by telling them about your degree or where you were born. Impress them quickly – tell them that you love the programme/channel they work for and briefly explain why you would be brilliant on it.

4. First shots are vital

Likewise, don’t waste time in your videos – get straight to the ‘meat’. Producers may only watch the first 10 seconds or even less, so make sure you blow them away with your first words. Starting with montages, photos, graphics, or even (gulp) out-takes is wasting their time and may result in them giving up.

5. Make videos – lots of videos

I’m amazed by how many people tell me they want to present TV, yet haven’t made a single video. You don’t need a camera-crew, and please don’t get a generic showreel made by one of those generic showreel companies (they look awful). Just grab a decent-quality webcam, iPhone or digital and get filming. Chris Johnson from CBBC was spotted on Youtube – you could be too!

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The 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar

(Source: io9.com)

Now the following list isn’t just for fiction writers of scripts and novels. Points 2, 4, 8, 10, 11, 14 (especially 14) and 18 can be applied to other forms of writing. Take note writers.

#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.

#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.

#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?

#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

#8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.

#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.

#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.

#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.

#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.

#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?

#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?

#22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

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Job hunters: Follow s*** loads of people on Twitter.

I MEAN IT. Absolutely s*** loads. (600+)

Find Producers, Directors, Production Managers, Journalists, PRs, Researchers, Runners, Editors, Designers, Production Assistants, Camera and Sound gurus. Start lists. CHECK THEM. Endure photo posts of their dinners. Even better- TALK TO THEM. Always be polite. They are people, and they are in business of storytelling so are bound to be chatty.

Tweet as well. Don’t tweet about your food (tres boring). Don’t be GOD DAMN CRYPTIC– I’m not a flaming mind reader. And I’m not going to follow someone who tweets once a day even if they have the most super-duper interesting job.

Some use their Twitter for NETWORKING and chatting up people who could hire them. I use mine more for personal use really and to befriend people who are also entry level in TV (because it’s interesting no?). I think it’s good to do either one or the other. You don’t want to be offending someone who could be your future boss by posting drunk pictures of yourself.

I think the rule is: If you would DIE OF SHAME if it was bought up in an interview, don’t post it on Twitter. You’re only a Google search away after all.

TV Runner and fellow tweep Michael Slevin  has some SPOT ON advice for using Twitter properly if you’re unsure.

I especially agree with his numer 8 -> 8. Don’t unfollow someone just because you don’t agree with them.

I couldn’t recommend this stuff more. TA DA!

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The tricky Cover Letter

Well I think they’re tricky at any rate.

Lou Gallagher, aka @wonderofaweazel made a blog post on how to ensure you write a decent cover letter.

Below are some of the condensed points. I did not write these, Lou did. Please read her own excellent post for more.

  • I personally think that courtesy and manners are key – even if you are applying for a role with someone you already know. I also think that an introduction to how you are applying is a good measure too i.e. where did you see the job advertised, or how did you come about attaining their contact details.
  • A cover letter should sell you in a nutshell – about 60 – 70% of an sheet of A4 is a good size. No longer or they might stop reading. A cover letter should never be too long or too over packed: we (as recruiters) generally don’t need your life story, and we don’t need a summary of the contents of your CV – that’s what we will look at next.
  • An area often lacking in a cover letter is personality/a human side: this doesn’t mean you should start telling jokes etc. but do talk feelings. Cover Letter’s often list skills – but don’t make example of them. Don’t just state that you ‘possess excellent communication skills’ – evidence how and whilst doing so, show something about yourself.
  • Every word in your cover letter should be there for a reason… use them, don’t abuse them!
  • Never talk generally about interests and hobbies in your cover letter unless absolutely relevant to the job or the programme content – even then, nobody needs to know that you have been an active horse rider for 17 years and what your favourite breed of horse is.
  • Please don’t make jokes/try to be funny/behave in an over familiar way when sending a cover letter – there is nothing more insulting than someone you have given your card to then writing to you and saying ‘Alright babes, sooooo lols meeting you last night. Really up for that job you mentioned – sounds wicked’.
  • Please don’t copy and paste your CV into your cover letter – neither should emulate the other.
  • End your cover letter with your availability for both interview and work – and state best method of daytime contact:
  • SPELL CHECK SPELL CHECK SPELL CHECK!
  • Sign off formally – cheers, ta, see ya later, etc is not acceptable.
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Be a hunter

Hunt for advice. Always, always say THANK YOU if you get feedback sent to you. Don’t give us junior TV types a bad reputation please.
I’d suggest using the BBC’s College of Production site to keep abreast of all things production-y.
I trained as a journalist so I LOVE the Beeb’s College of Journalism site. Have a gander at it even if you’re not a journalist and don’t work in factual TV. They’ve got some good advice on filming, researching, editing and crafting stories.
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The unwritten rule

Twitter diva Fleet Street Fox : “You can’t have a go at someone who’s following the rules you’ve written.”

Well now, that might have been regarding the Jimmy Carr tax avoiding story, BUT I think it’s a good thing to remember if you’re working in a large team.

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So I do (really!) want to work in television…

I was getting rejected here there and everywhere for jobs when I had just graduated. It was SOUL DESTROYING. So You Want To Work In Television picked me up, dusted me down and said:

“Hannah, one day you shall go forth and work in television. Someone will give you a chance and you will work your sweet behind off and love it. Have faith.” 

I can’t really do this website justice by prattling on about it, because it has advice on just about everything to do with working in TV. Here it is:

http://wanttoworkintelevision.com/ <- CLICK ME

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As Ed Sheeran recently tweeted: “Success is the best form of revenge. Keep ya head down and work hard to achieve.”

AMEN ED. 

Peace out, HannARGH x

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