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My advice to TV interns: Harman at BriteSpark Films

October 7th, 2015

Describing a ‘typical’ work day at BriteSpark Films is more difficult than you’d think, because each is slightly different to the one before.  And I’m not just saying that.  I was at BriteSpark for a year and am now in my second TV Researcher / Production Assistant role at a company called WAG TV, and I can say with honesty that when you get through the door each morning, you never quite know what you’ll be up against.  And if you’re anything like me you appreciate that.  I think this dose of unpredictability is what’s attractive about the creative industries – the work you do may not always classify as ‘creative’, but your working life will be dynamic, just like the people around you.

But let’s back up a bit.  How did I hear about Creative Access?  I’m slightly ticked off to say that it was actually from my Dad.  He’d listened to an audiobook of Sathnam Sanghera’s The Boy With The Topknot, and upon further exploration of the author’s work and endeavours, had seen that Sathnam chaired an organization aimed at promoting and increasing diversity across all the creative industries.  At this point I’d just returned from messing around in South America for six months, and was still acquainting myself with the comparatively soul-crushing reality of the job hunt.  I knew I wanted to research something…but apart from that I’ll admit that I was pitifully aimless in the way I went about things.  If there’s one thing I’d say about looking for work, it’s have a focus.  Even if you don’t think something is your ‘dream job’, if you have a goal to aim at you’ll get far further than trying to go down every avenue.  I don’t believe you can know what you really want to do in life until you’ve tested the waters, and tried things out.  But you have to take leaps of faith.  If you aim for something, you’ll at least get somewhere.

So I’m very glad Dad turned me on to this.  Both the internship and the experience of being part of the CA community have made the last year one of significant development on many fronts.  The most important thing I’ve picked up?  Never be afraid to let out your true, whole personality.  Don’t go into an internship worrying that you don’t know enough, or that you’ll struggle.  If you’re involved in Creative Access in the first place, you’re more than capable, I promise.  Go in and be determined to bring your A-game, not just in terms of working hard, but also in not being intimidated.  Television is an industry that’s enriched by the diversity of characters that make up its workforce.  Anything about yourself that you think is weird – that will be an asset to the industry.

And occasionally some people, myself included at times, think that it’s possible to get ahead in the working world by playing hardball and being ‘ruthless’.  All I will say is, it won’t take long for you to realize you’re not Littlefinger from Game of Thrones.  Be nice to other people, don’t lose your temper, be the calm centre, and you will be the individual that people really, really value in the long-term.

One of the most difficult things for me was fully embracing that I was part of a team, and realising the strength that this brings.  Put it down to shyness; I was quiet in my first few months.  But once I realised that these people around me were only people, I could recognise them as friends, not just work colleagues.  And from then on, my enjoyment of the job increased exponentially.  Of course it’s not all fun and games – at times it will get incredibly stressful.  And this is where the effort of forging relationships with those around you really pays off.  If you’ve remained quiet and detached, you’ll feel less able to ask for guidance when you need it.  Be friendly early on, and carry on making that effort to forge relationships.  And then when it comes down to the wire, you’ll have friends at hand to help you, rather than strangers.

I think you also have to have patience.  You can’t expect everything to happen at once.  This seems obvious to say but I found it remarkable how often I had to remind myself of it.  Patience and perseverance can get you through anything.  Impatience and indecision can only frustrate you.  Trust in your intelligence and resourcefulness, and give yourself time to think about a problem before you jump straight in.  If you’re willing to open yourself up to people, you’ll soon be surrounded by colleagues that support you, and will help you reach the next step of where you want to be.  Help, and be helped.

So in summary, my typical day at BriteSpark involved trying (mostly in vain) to remember all these things and just generally blundering through – but always making sure I was doing so in good humour and with genuine dedication.  Creative Access is an honest and imperative initiative – if you strive to be honest and imperative yourself then you’ll go far.