Becoming A Professional
“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” (Ford Crowther, 1923)
This quote by Henry Ford perfectly describes the journey of becoming a professional and continues to be true throughout the entire professional experience.
One of the failures I went through was with Aardman. Walking into a placement interview, I was ready to cite all the facts I knew about Aardman and my interviewer. When it came to the first question, I did not know what to say. She did not want to hear facts or logic, she wanted to her about emotions and drive. Only later did I realize that “an interview is a business conversation” and not an “interrogation” (Neece, 2016). I left the interview disappointed in myself. I knew I deserved a work placement with Aardman but felt I did not get my personality and character across. I decided not to let the rejection get me down but reflected on my experience and can now say: It’s not about facts, it’s about yourself.
I was able to secure three work placements and three client shoots. Half of them I got through applying, the other half are a result of knowing the right people and seizing opportunities. Some might feel rude when going up to people and ask them straight forward if there is work for them but I learned that if you inquire nicely people are happy to give you the chance to prove yourself.
Working in Nashville for a horror feature film it became very evident how important building a network is. All the people I spoke to, crew and cast, became part of the production because someone else referred them. The Focus Puller told me he never applied for a job but still gets enough work to live well. I hope I made long lasting contacts that will lead to further work. I have voiced my interest in working with everyone in the future and offered my services to many of them.
On set I found my way in the Production Crew, mainly helping with the logistics of the shoot. Even though I wasn’t actively needed 24/7, I had to be available throughout the entire 12h of the night shoot. Experiencing this work load first hand made me realize how exhausting a film shoot is. It also made me realize that I can see myself working under/as a Producer and/or Production Coordinator. A good Production Coordinator’s skills are organization/multitasking, strong computing and scheduling skills, team leading and communication (Hicks, 2016). After doing a SWOT analysis for myself I saw that I counted most of these skills to my strengths.
Being part of the filming and editing crew for the TEDxCoventryUniversity event let me experience different areas of production. Compared to the big crew in Nashville, the small team of six people made communication easy and the flat command structure helped to get things done quickly. The obvious structures of the various teams from film crew to tech team and hosts made clear I only needed to focus on my work and could trust the others to do theirs. We were bound by TEDx regulations and had to follow certain procedures such as a strict deadline. This was very different to the feature film shoot where the entire process seemed more laid back. The extra pressure lead us to finish up quickly and spend many hours in the office. This emphasizes something about myself: I work well with deadlines.
Filming the event and the final editing was rewarding. I felt like I achieved something great that can now be displayed across the world. This experience showed me how important positivity and colleagues are to create a pleasant working atmosphere where I then can give it my all, no matter how long the work.
Beatfreeks demonstrates this perfectly. The atmosphere is incredibly relaxed and yet they keep growing. They are passionate about their job and the great community they built around themselves that they constantly discuss new ideas wherever they are. “If you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe” (TED, 2009). It reminded me a lot of my old university job where we prepared and held weekend long seminars for students. I never realized this is how a business can get started and make money! I trust in my own abilities more now and have started thinking about self-employment. The requirements are being passionate and being surrounded with passionate people.
Client Shoots and Exhibition
Other client shoots were more bureaucratic. These jobs were tackled in a team assigned by the university. The first challenge was to get to know everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and work with people I knew nothing about. Two projects we worked on together were the university sports showreels for CUSU and a promotional video for our client Laser Quest. Both of these work relationships were defined in a memorandum of understanding. It was helpful to know exactly what the client wanted for the deliverables, division of work and time management. Acquiring the external client was not difficult. Small businesses seem to be happy about any engagement with media professionals especially for free.
This group experienced a couple changes in leadership which complicated communication with the client and tutors. When I became team leader of the group I left Kayla in charge of the sports showreels since she was already communicating with our client. I could focus on the external client work experience and the exhibition. To prevent getting overwhelmed by the work, the various jobs had to be split up between the members. The job of a team leader is to delegate work, not to do all the work.
A big focus for me was communication between the client/event organizers and my team. Before I was in this position I felt uneasy when I wasn’t kept up to date and therefore regularly asked for and gave updates. Knowing what is happening motivates people to be involved and creates the positive atmosphere I have mentioned before. It became evident that “[devoting] approximately 6 hours per day in communicating” (Managementstudyguide.com, 2016) seems like a realistic number for professional managers.
Work delegation was especially important during the exhibition as well. Showing the visitors how to use the TV studio and creating a short show with them created many tasks to take care of. I found that regular meetings to keep everyone up to date and early preparation were important. Even if just a few members were present we had to make decisions and go through with them. There isn’t always time to re-discuss. During the exhibition the active engagement with the audience made the session successful.
Ford, H. and Crowther, S. (1923). My Life and Work. New York: Doubleday, Page & Company.
Hicks, C. (2016). Working As A Production Coordinator. [online] HowTo Filmschool. Available at: http://howtofilmschool.com/working-as-a-production-coordinator/ [Accessed 23 Apr. 2016].
Managementstudyguide.com. (2016). Importance of Communication in an Organization. [online] Available at: http://www.managementstudyguide.com/importance-of-communication.htm [Accessed 28 Apr. 2016].
Neece, M. (2016). Six Interview Mistakes. [online] MONSTER. Available at: http://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/six-interview-mistakes [Accessed 15 Apr. 2016].
TED, (2009). How great leaders inspire action. Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action#t-457039 [Accessed 26 Apr. 2016].