Friday, 17 May 2013

Bunting and Shopping Trolleys and a Bit of Hacker Time

First of all I'd like to say sorry for neglecting this blog of late. It has been fairly quiet on the telly job front recently and I have been busy temping my way through life by mainly manically grinning at people as they walk past my reception desk in a very scary fashion. However I have set up another blog in my absence about all the crafty things I make in my spare time so if there are other prolonged periods of inactivity on here I'll usually be posting pretty pictures on there. Here's the link if you're interested: The McPoodle Blog

Last week was a bit more eventful however. On Bank Holiday Monday I was making bunting and colouring in fruit with a load of kids and the BBC Outreach team at a charity event in aid of The Christie. It was a very hot sunny day (remember those) with good music and more importantly good bunting...I like bunting a lot, you may have noticed.

On Wednesday I was helping out at an event at MediaCity called Made in Studio where a whole host of celebrities and producers and other important people of the TV world sat in a panel in front of an audience of even more important people of the TV world and discussed pressing issues regarding studio based television. I got to stand in the green room with Richard Osman which was quite an exciting thing for me...I do love a bit of Pointless and it turns out that he is as tall as he claims to be! Then I got a wee bit tipsy with Sam and Mark at the after party and regaled them with the story about the time when I was on the same series of Pop Idol as them (I really should stop doing that, it was a whole decade ago now and I need to move on with my life already).

Then on Thursday and Friday I got to make props for the CBBC show: Hacker Time and generally get excited about working on a show with the coolest puppet on CBBC since Edd the Duck. I also got to traipse around Manchester City Centre with a huge long shopping list and one of these...

Yes, that is a very sexy granny shopping trolley pictured above. The photo was taken by the checkout in ALDI as I was waiting to buy a pair of highly attractive granny slippers...working for CBBC makes you the height of cool don't you know! I also wandered back down to the studio on Sunday to see some of it being filmed at the meet the main dog himself. Here is a photo of him taking a quick power nap during the lunch break.

And so concludes my brief round up of last week. This week I have mainly been sending out a million job applications and getting annoyed at my internet when it crashes every five minutes. Ho hum.

Monday, 18 March 2013

I Now Work for the Beeb Don't You Know

...well I say that but in reality I only worked for them for two days a couple of weeks ago. It's not really anything to write home about when you look at it like that but it is one massive break through for me and considering that working for the BBC and especially in Children's is something that has always been extremely high on my career wishlist ever since my work experience placement on the CBBC show Do Something Different way back in 2007, I feel that this particular baby step needs all the enthusiastic clapping and the "who's a clever girl" comments I can get. I now have a fully authentic BBC Casual Staff Number of my very own which is massively exciting and hopefully it's going to lead to much more work with them in the future.

I was the Art Department Runner for a CBBC show called Who Let the Dogs Out? which is a really lovely little show where children teach their dogs how to do tricks and yes, I have had that song by The Baha Men stuck in my head ever since I worked on the programme. I was helping the rest of the Art Department (three highly amusing Scottish men) transform a beautiful but very dusty Victorian bath house into the most amazing dog agility course I've ever even had a trampoline! Much heavy lifting and prop assembly and sticking my fingers together with masking tape and using industrial strength white tac to stick things to the walls and hoovering and dusting later (ironic really seeing as it was International Women's Day at the time and I was the one wielding the duster!) we had a really stunning setting for the initial dog try-outs. The next day the rest of the crew came on board, filming began and there were lots of little doggies everywhere for me to make friends with. It was all a very exciting experience and even better in hindsight when I found out a week later I had just missed the day when all the dogs started weeing on the carpet which I would have found very amusing if I was there at the time except for the fact that I would have had to clean it up. Still it could have been worse I guess...

I learned so much from this job and not just the fact that I really miss having a dog in my life. This is not the first time I've worked within the Art Department of a show but it is the first time I've worked in an interior setting where we've had to dress everything from scratch. Normally I'm outside digging trenches in fields, planting flowers, lugging hay bales around and doing other crazy things whilst the rain pours down but this is the first time I've been involved in dressing sets with graphics and it was a new and exciting experience for me. It was also very nice to work with people who have much more experience that I have (the Production Designer has also worked on Waybuloo and MI High amongst many other things...I was slightly in awe) and it was good to be shown the ropes by someone who has been in the industry for many years.

The entire crew were just a bunch of really lovely people who made me feel so welcome and it reminded me why I love working in Children's TV in the first place. It was just a wonderful experience and I'm itching to work on more kiddie's shows now. Bring it!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

It's P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-Pancake Day

Pancake day is without exception the best day in our calendar. It is the only day of the year where it is perfectly acceptable to throw food all over the kitchen and eat so many pancakes until eventually all our red blood cells get replaced with lemony sugary goodness that courses through our veins and makes us truly happy inside and out.

There is also the added joy of having the excuse to sing the p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-pancake day song to everybody all day long and then go home to watch the entire collection of Maid Marian and her Merry Men although unfortunately this second option rather depends on the mood of you housemates/friends who you've invited around to your humble abode for your pancake feast. Some people, it turns out, do not understand the pure genius of this programme and if you do find yourself in the situation where your guests don't appreciate being forced to watch back to back episodes of  Tony Robinson being awesome don't feel bad when you have to strike them off the list for next years pancake party.

If you are planning a pancake feast and don't know how to make pancakes here is a link to some Newsround presenters guiding you through it because Blue Peter stopped fulfilling that side of their public service remit years's sad I know.

So be sure to eat soooooooo many pancakes tonight until you eventually explode and after that has happened, why not beat off the sugar come down by lying on the sofa and watch some classic children's is the only way to celebrate Shrove Tuesday after all.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Chasing Pavements (With Bear Traps and Potholes at Every Corner)

This blog was meant to document my highs and lows of working in this industry. So far all my entries have been very positive so I think it's only fair to restore the balance out a bit. It's never nice to start a new year on a negative but this is the first winter where I've been searching for work in this industry and it actually really sucks. Obviously I've heard all the horror stories about job opportunities shrivelling up and dropping off the trees just to get shat on by passing dogs but it's horrible and mainly really boring when you're not working for a prolonged period of time and have no money to go out and do anything else to relieve the boredom.

My Dad isn't helping with his weekly phone calls asking if I've found any work yet and his tone of pity oosing down the phone at me when I know  all he's thinking is "when are you going to snap out of this pipe dream and find a proper job, one that pays you real money and gives you some sort of financial security? You can then save up for a house and pay into a pension scheme and get a dog and nobody will think any less of you for failing all your hopes and dreams because this is the real adult world where we all just bumble along and count down the days until we can retire and then play golf every day until you die...just think of that!" Whilst the house and the dog do sound appealing and it would be nice to have a pension scheme on the go (I am actually working on that one) the rest of it however sounds as boring in my mind as it does written down here.

I also don't think Les Mis coming out at the cinema when it did helped because it has just reaffirmed that the only way out of my current financial situation is by selling may hair and going on the game! nb. I'm not actually going to do that and in any case I don't have enough money to get my hair cut at the moment.

I was actually still very upbeat about immediate future prospects until a couple of days ago. Christmas with the family was lovely, Neighbours returned to my television screen after its month long Christmas break (it's always a difficult time of year for me) and mid way through January I started getting phone calls from potential employers who had been given my CV from HR (these are jobs that I didn't even specifically apply for) so it was all looking good. It felt like the long hard winter was finally over and and the grass was peeking up through the snow saying "eat me Bambi". All the deer were grazing happily, lulled into a false sense of thinking everything's going to be alright now that we've survived the snow before realising that some evil bastard is lurking in a bush waiting to shoot Bambi's mother. But then, like in Bambi, after his mother gets shot and the poor little fawn is left to fend for himself, it snows a hell of a lot more and it's bleaker than ever (look out the window right now). And yes I am comparing my life to a Disney film. It's not the first time I've done this and it certainly won't be the last.

So anyway, at one point I had three different jobs pencilled in for February, two of which phoned me out of the blue and the other one had been pushed back a month whilst they were waiting for dates to be confirmed before they let me know my start date. We had lots of email correspondence going on and I was lead to believe that I was the person they had whittled it down to. I also had another phone call last week from a production up in Leeds, their runner was moving on and they asked me if I'd completed the health and safety course (yes) and where I was based (oh our previous runner was from Manchester too and he went down during the weekends and he stayed in the hotel with the rest of the crew during the week) and all in all I had nothing but positive vibes from it. Then the guy phoned me again on the same day to ask the same questions (he hadn't made a note of some of my answers) and he told me that he'd get back to me by the end of the day.....that was last Wednesday and he hasn't been in contact since so reading between the lines I'm assuming I didn't get the job.

Now I understand that people are very busy and that they don't always have time to get in contact with everyone but seeing as I didn't even apply for the job and he made the first move and contacted me twice in one day I'm sure that he could have made time to quickly ring the people he'd phoned out of the blue and got excited at the prospect of a month's solid work who had probably be sitting by their phones all day in anticipation waiting for his call, even if it is just to say "sorry, we've given the job to someone else". I'm a big girl now, I can handle rejection and in any case, it's the polite thing to do surely?

Last night I found a relisting of the job I thought I had in the bag and was just waiting for them to get back to me with dates. It turns out they had sorted out the dates but didn't bother getting in touch with me. Instead I had to find via the comments box below the posting that the position had now been filled (again thanks for letting me know or getting in contact with me saying these are the dates, are you still available?)

So now I'm down to my last option. Granted that the job I'm still waiting to hear back from has always been the one I've been most excited about (I'm not just saying that because the other jobs fell through) and it's a lot closer to home than the others. Now I'm started to panic because I haven't heard from them since mid January and they start shooting on the 18th February and all I have is a first name and no contact number for the guy who phoned me initially (his number was withheld) not a great start! I don't want to find out in a few weeks that they are fully crewed up but most of all I just want to know either way so that if they have already filled the position I can then get onto my temping agency to find some other work to be getting on with before I get into the situation where I can't afford to pay my rent and I've completely maxed out my overdraft and other stuff that people in the real world have to worry about.

So if any of you reading this are in the habit of phoning people up with potential job offers and then saying that you'll be in touch at a later date once the time/date/venue/number of runners needed etc has been confirmed and then don't follow it up EVER, even if it's just to say "sorry we've got someone else", please spare a thought for the poor people who are eagerly awaiting your promised call that never happens. As Captain James Hook once said in the greatest Spielberg film of all time....bad form Peter!