TV Futures - The Shadowing Experience


Daniel Jones TV-Bay Magazine
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My name is Daniel Jones, and it is no accident that I’m currently studying BSc (Hons) Television and Broadcasting at the University of Portsmouth. Since completing GSCE media studies I have been constantly questioning what I watch with questions such as, “Wow, how was that filmed?” or “That looks amazing, I wonder how long that took?” It should come as no surprise that I made it a big focus of mine to get myself some real work experience to give myself some answers to these production questions.

I completed my first year at University still wanting to know more about the television industry and in particular how camera operators work with the rest of the production team. Some of the work I had completed as a first year inspired me to get myself out there, and get real, valuable work experience to progress my career.

After contacting everyone in the world who works in Television (not literally) I finally managed to get some work experience with a production company creating a programme for the Cbeebies channel. I was thrilled that I had finally stepped through the doors into a real production office. I can remember walking to the office and my imagination went wild thinking, “there are going to be thousands of editors everywhere, a huge camera team working like clockwork,” but I was completely wrong. There were two teams of approximately eight people working on the programme which consisted of the Producer, Assistant Producers, Production Managers, Camera Operators and self Directors.This made me realise that just because something is being broadcasted on television, it does not require a huge team of people to create a television programme. This was an eye opener, as I always thought productions were actually more complicated than they were. I’m not saying that it is easy to do this job, as it definitely isn’t, but it was reassuring to know that the team works very closely and you don’t have that loss of communication being part of a mass “team.”

This changed my perspective on everything! Now I was wondering what the team was going to be like. Were the producers going to be in suits bossing everyone round, like managing directors of a top tier company? Again, I was wrong. The room was filled with so much colour that it kind of resembled a rainbow, and to top this off there were smiles and a bit of friendly chit chat. Everybody was just so welcoming, professional and creative. Shadowing the members of the team was interesting as they got me involved with most roles that were taking place on the production. I never thought I’d enjoy the role of producing, however performing tasks and helping come up with ideas made me feel like a big part of the team and I really enjoyed shadowing and being included within the producers department.

I had originally set my learning focus at university to become a freelance camera operator, but this external experience threw up a dilemma as to what to really focus on next. This real-world experience had been very exciting and encouraging, and I now knew that having a more multi-skilled approach would help me become part of any team within a production, and it would keep me waking up every morning with a big smile on my face.

My learning experience continued as the week unfolded and I my excitement levels were elevated to crazy levels the day I got to shadow the camera operators. I was glowing with happiness when I arrived on set, and to top it off the whole team and presenter made me feel so at home. I shared with them my early thoughts on a potential career focusing on camera operating, and they gave me an insight into all of the possibilities within a production team. I assisted the camera operator, helping get things in order as well as being shown what to do with a daunting yet interesting Sony FS7, as well as helping the assistant producer note all of the time codes of the production shoot. This was honestly like a dream come true, and it concluded with my feeling that I still wanted to become a camera operator, but it is safer to have as wide a knowledge of every role as possible.

I learnt a huge amount from my week of work experience with this production company and if they are reading this, a big heartfelt thanks!. University is a massive roller coaster that helps to prepare you for the dreaded ‘real world’, but i’m pleased the teaching of multi skilling mirrored what I learnt from the production company, and the main takeaway I gained was to truly embrace being open minded to all roles on offer within a production team. The television industry really is a varied, colourful, creative and enjoyable industry to be part of.


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Contributing Author Daniel Jones

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