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The Red Planet Blog

Feb 14 2013

Gizza Job, Go on Gizza Job! #icandothat

or how to find work as a newbie

I used to get many CVs, I don't so much now. Is that because there are fewer people out there wanting to work in TV/Video production? Is it because Red Planet is not as good a name as The Accidental Film Company? Somehow I don't think so.

It may be that people are looking to make contact with prospective employers in a different way.

Social media now offers a more personal and direct way to get straight to producers, directors etc rather than firing out CV after CV.

I am on Linkedin and, though I don't use it to its full potential, even I as an old-fart luddite can see the opportunities it offers for networking and contacting people you would not previously have been able to get near.

Twitter offers a different challenge. I am pretty good at using Twitter, but not necessarily for work. I have a personal account and one for Red Planet. The latter tends to get somewhat neglected as I fail to find anything pithy, witty or incisive to say. I don't want to just put "In an edit on a conference programme for Interserve" or "submitting my VAT return #suchfun" so instead it gets left neglected, which of course is worse.

The challenge is to use Twitter to speak to who you want to. On my personal feed I can talk football with one group, politics with another and complain about X Factor to the whole world. The key is in knowing what you are aiming for.

Now if I was looking for a job, there are plenty of people and companies I could and would follow on Twitter, and spend my time trying to get them to reply to me, retweet me or the holy grail - I could get them to follow me.

Producers, directors, writers, editors, they are all out there holding forth and, vitally, engaging with other people. They tell you when they're starting a job, when they're moving into production, when they're going to post and where they're doing all this. In short they set up the perfect opportunity for an informed CV pitch. 

However, as Jimmy Cricket would say, there's more. Companies are now advertising their jobs on Twitter. Channel 4 put all their jobs there along with the details of their production trainee schemes. The BBC College of Production staff are there. And yet there is still more. 

Everyday there are roles advertised, from Runner to Editor, for productions all over the country all on a single source - The Unit List. By maintaining a simple list and checking it regularly, the aspiring film-maker can see and react to a huge swathe of opportunities, so why do anything else?

Treading the streets of Soho with a was of CVs to hand in at every door seems like a total anachronism, who in their right mind would do it? The simple answer is the individual who really deserves a job does it. That individual undoubtedly uses Linkedin and Twitter but they know that not every producer is on there. They also know that some producers are on there but don't use it as a business tool.

The hardy soul hawking his or her CV round companies, will probably also have joined Film Groups, like the North London Film Partnership. They will have sniffed out shoots and turned up asking to make the tea, carry an umbrella or polish the clapperboard. They are the dedicated self-starter individual with initiative that every single job advert is looking for.

As they troop into the reception area of the 34th company they have visited on a wet Thursday morning, they may not look like it, but that person is the one who not only deserves a break but the person that will give most back to the far-sighted individual that gives them one.



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Nov 01 2010

The Joys of Learning

The last few weeks have been a bit different for me. It is all to easy when you have been doing the same thing for getting on 20 years to think that you know it all. I mean you keep up with new trends and technology, but you know all the basics backwards don't you? Well it turns out you don't.

In an attempt to move beyond the confines of the office and look past the jobs I'm currently working on - one day they will be finished - I enlisted myself on some courses.

The first is a course on Pitching and Developing Documentaries. I received an email from InSIght late on the Friday afternoon saying the course started on Monday and signed up right away. And a truly positive experience it has been.

Tartan Army,Trafalgar Square,Hamish Husband

Now back in the Accidental Film Company days, we proposed a Tartan Army documentary to every broadcaster we could think of. We got nice replies from some and more equivocal responses from others - Channel 4 were lovely though Stuart Cosgrove, Head of Nations and Regions less so . But the shock of the rejection was hard to take, so sure were we that our big thick document had covered every possible area the documentary could encompass, had told the full story and laid out all the interviewees we had lined up.

It took about 5 minutes of the first session to find out where we had gone wrong. Why had no one told us before that commissioning editors only want a paragraph about the documentary? How had we not considered that as they would have numerous pitches arriving every week, a 43 page document might get put to the bottom of the pile?

By the end of Week 1 the class had distilled ideas down to a single sentence. The aim clear; to provide a commissioner with an eye-catching, hook to inspire them to want to find out more. It was only in Week 3 that the writing of a full proposal was covered, and surprise, surprise even here the Tartan Army document was ridiculously overblown. The norm is 2 pages! So much paper and ink wasted.

The final part of the course is tonight and as I have already stated it has been a tremendously worthwhile experience. The tutor/teacher/expert Andrea Paterson is knowledgable, witty and engaging and has been positive throughout with a class ranging from me, at the gnarled, cynical old-man end to the young, green, dynamos at the other extreme.

So I learnt that the conventions of pitching documentaries were very different to those we practice everyday in pitching commercial and corporate jobs, where detail is not just welcomed but totally necessary in showing the client that you understand the brief and can deliver a programme that will convey all the right messages to the right audience. But understanding that, I obviously had nothing to learn about standard marketing. Wrong again.

Having moved the offices into Enfield, I decided to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Enterprise Enfield to meet with other businesses from the borough and the first event offered was a seminar on marketing.

Sitting on the chair with the moveable wooden desk arm, I was instantly transported back to the Media School in Bournemouth some 20 years ago. I sat confident that I would know everything that would be said during the day. I had been there, learn it once, topped it up everyday and knew everything. But once again I was sadly misguided. Of course I knew much of the theory, I put much of it into practice in projects for our clients, but throughout the session little nuggets of information penetrated my al-knowing facade.

By the end of the day, I felt energised and a little bit inspired to change the little details on website, flaws in sales letters and not a little bit of my personal demeanour. I thanked the tutor, Cliff Maxen, again a warm, knowledgeable and positive mentor, and left not only determined to put the day's learning into practice but to look for other opportunities to return to the classroom and learn some more. What the worst that could happen? I could forget some of the trivia that makes me a sought after member of local Pub Quiz teams. Not a bad price to pay.

Posted by Keir Husband

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Sep 20 2010

Welcome to The New Red Planet (at last!)

I’m never one for missing a chance to laugh at a company for rebranding rather than doing something profound to refresh themselves. So feel free to chuckle, giggle, guffaw or LOL to your heart’s content at the glorious irony of Red Planet joining in the shenanigans.

In my defence it’s almost a year since Stuart decided to leave Red Planet, moving on to new things and starting Spark. So much of Red Planet’s identity was Stuart’s – for those of you that didn’t know I was the ‘Accidental’ half of Red Planet Accidental – so I felt it important to signal the new era with an image that reflected the quirky, idiosyncratic side of my character and that of  the company - married of course to the professionalism and quality that Red Planet is synonymous with.

That is as far as I will go in explaining the logo, and the graphics used in the web site. Having some claim to be a copywriter, I am sure I could rustle up some nonsense about the rocket being a metaphor for the ambition of the company, the shade of red signifying our passion for video and the font representing a quantum leap forward in customer service but as I wouldn’t believe it myself I am not going to.

What I can say about both the new logo and the website, is that they show the benefit of working with and trusting designers who understand what you are looking for. It also helps when they have the talent and vision to deliver something that differs from what you expected, for the simple reason that it exceeds anything your untrained mind might have come up with.

So I have no hesitation in both thanking and recommending Academy Design and Metacosm for their work. If you have a design job or a website needing updated, then give them a call. Of course if it involves video, or copywriting, or a spread of media give us a call, I mean we are nice but we are still in business. OK!

Posted by Keir Husband

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