Thursday, 28 June 2012

Interviews, Coffee and Networking

I promised myself some time off when I got back from the Championsheeps and despite my temping agency trying desperately to get me to work odd weeks here and there I've stuck to my word and turned down the irrelevant job offers. Now before you start thinking this is a really stupid idea (I am still in two minds about agreeing with you) I should add that I have had a flurry of interviews and networking things to attend.

Last week I had an interview to work in the art department on a very exciting sounding feature film. That was  on the Tuesday and seeing as I am very new to working in the art department and have only worked on the Hollyoaks promo before as a set dresser I suddenly had to dash around Manchester trying to put together a portfolio the day before the interview with only two decent photos to add to it. Plus it was the first portfolio I've constructed since I did A Level Art so the man who was interviewing me probably was thinking "what a bloody joke"...I know I certainly was! So that was last Tuesday and I still haven't had an answer about that job despite a few texts and phone calls trying to chase up an answer. 

On Thursday there was a networking doo at one of the buildings in MediaCity. It's called the Greenhouse and it's where a nice assortment of small indie production companies and other small businesses live. On my way there I went via the Blue Peter Garden and was delighted to discover that someone has erected a little cage type dome thing that goes over the pond and there are real live fish happily swimming around in there now. Getting back to the reason I was there (well apart from all the cupcakes, ice cream and macaroons I was promised) the networking event was very well put together. They had the advantage of all their tenants being in their own offices so it was easy to navigate and target the companies that you actually wanted to introduce yourself to. I came away from it feeling that I made some very useful contacts.

Last Saturday there was a cider festival happening in the centre of Manchester. This had been in my diary for months as I have been moaning rather regularly about the lack of decent cider that's been missing from my life whilst going out and about since I moved here. I come from a little village in the depths of Gloucestershire and down there they feed it to us before we progress onto solids so cider is something that is very dear to my heart. Originally it was going to be just my flatmate and I attending but two days before this most wondrous and hallowed event I tweeted about it and then all of a sudden somehow it became a mini networking afternoon/evening for people who I've worked with in the industry and people who I'd like to work with in the future...the power of Twitter hey!

On Monday I had a big scary but mega exciting interview at the BBC for a job in the indie acquisitions team in the Children's department and for the first time ever at a BBC interview my brain didn't turn to mush and I was giving coherent answers to questions that in the past I have just fallen flat on my face with before I've even had a chance to get any words out of my mouth. Obviously my plan that I came up with in November actually worked, which was to move as close to MediaCity as possible so that I could change my perception of the BBC from the mystical fantasy palace where all my dreams and wishes would magically come true yet when invited to an interview would not feel I am worthy of working in such an awesome place - to - a nice company that I'd quite like to work for. I'm not sure if I have the job yet or not but the interviewers said as we were wrapping up that I gave a very strong interview (I was waiting for the but...) so I guess that's a result in itself. They promised to let me know by the end of the week so they have roughly a day and an hour and half to keep that promise. 

I had a coffee date on Tuesday with a little chum of mine who I work with on Dickinson's Real Deal and then yesterday morning I went for an interview at an indie company who specialise in commercials who are looking for freelance art department people, production assistants and runners (I took my newly made portfolio and flashed my two photos from the Hollyoaks promo at them) and then another coffee date in the afternoon with a relatively newly formed indie company that I've built up a nice little relationship up with on Twitter. It was a way of introducing ourselves to each other and putting a face to the tweets but we ended up have a good natter for about an hour! Next week I'm off to Sheffield to volunteer at the Children's Media Conference and then I get back on Friday and volunteer over the weekend down at the BBC for Give an Hour

So my plan to take some time off hasn't really been any less manic than if I had been working, and much more so than if I had agreed to sit on a reception with no way of furthering my career or stimulating my brain cells. 

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Championsheeps Live at Whipsnade Zoo

Over half term I journeyed down to Whipsnade Zoo (it's near Luton) to work on a crazy but oh so awesome family event put on by a bunch of lovely people at SGA Productions in association with Aardman for Shaun the Sheep's Championsheeps. Trying to describe this event is quite a challenge but I shall try my very best. There were 6 different games that were adaptations to games that you would find at your average village fate/school sports day. We had a Naughty Pig Sack Race where the sacks had piggy bodies painted onto them and the contestants had to wear pig masks whilst people standing at the sides were encouraged to throw "fluffy poo" at them. We also had a coconut shy type welly wangling competition where people had to try to knock the farmer's heads off the scarecrows (pictured below).

There was also an egg and spoon race where you had a lot of chickens sat on baskets and you had to find chicks and eggs underneath the hens and distribute them into various coops and other baskets. We also had "sheep hopper" games and and cabbage throwing games and giant sheep rolling games and plasticine modelling and aerobics classes where we had to dance around like loons to S Club 7 for 15 minutes every hour. We were there for 10 days in total, including the weekends and Jubilee bank holidays. It rained lots and there were gale force winds and the giant inflatable sheep nearly blew away and we had to clear up animal dug from the roaming animals who had been trying out our race track during the night. On the other hand I essentially got paid to have a lot of fun. I love working with kiddies and there were certainly loads of them about.

I decided to hire a car for the duration of the job because I thought better of trying to navigate public transport during weekends/bank holidays. This I discovered was a very good idea. For those of you who don't know me personally, I haven't driven a car for four years due to mainly not having enough money to fund a car of my own. I'm not going to lie to you, before I picked up my little Peugeot 107 I was petrified. I was concerned about forgetting which pedals do what and navigating roundabouts and overtaking on duel carriageways during rush hour. When the man at the car hire place at Luton airport handed over the keys I walked out to the car thinking "why on earth did he just do that????" and I spent a good 10 minutes checking the mirrors were all pointing in the right place before setting off. It turns out however that the cliché "it's just like riding a bike" is actually true...albeit a rather large bike with four wheels, a roof and a motor.  By the end of the contract I was seriously tempted to drive back to Manchester in it.

So that's what I have been up to since the last time I posted. It has been a mad whirlwind of a ride and I would do it all again in a heartbeat!