Biscuits and tea at the BBC

BECTU and BBC Media City Craft Networking Event for Freelancers

I arrived to Manchester Media City at 6:25, late and frustrated. But the minute I stepped into the BBC building I felt nothing but excitement. It was my first ever networking event! And there was a crowd of people rushing to get in so no one noticed I was late. We were greeted by a friendly BBC staff and after getting our visitor’s cards and programme of the event we were allowed to go through a security door that looked like a teleporter out of a si-fi film. On the 4th floor a crowd of freelancers and BBC workforce was already helping themselves to biscuits and tea. Coffee was already gone. Good. The lack of coffee turned out to be a great conversation starter.

The event consisted of informal networking time and more formal presentations from The BBC, The Farm Group, The Studios and BECTU (who were the organizers of this whole event).  Ken Lee- Director of BBC North, and Andy Walters Head of The Studios, gave a low down on the Media City’s infrastructure and explained the way the BBC is structured at Media City. Apparently some productions (Children’s, Sports and some drama) are out posted to BBC’s contractor- MCSL (Media City Studios Limited) whereas post production (including post production facilities in the BBC’s own building) will be operated by The Farm (also based in Media City). Both The Farm and MCSL will be freelance led.

Tim Sargeant- Head of Technology for BBC North, was talking about the software, cameras and editing suits, radio studios and production studios. What’s most important for us students is that the whole infrastructure is Final Cut Pro based. The Adobe Premier is used for rough edits but once the edit gets to Craft (a word used a lot by all the speakers and also included in the title of the event itself) it’s all FCP7.

Another interesting thing is that the Studios use an employment agency, Factory 65 (might be wrong so if anyone knows this agency let me know in comments), to source freelancers for their productions. As for The Farm (post production staff) my understanding is that a person interested in working for them contacts them directly. The BBC Managers book their own workforce but it is The Farm that manages the facilities.

A bit complicated but hugely informative. For me, though, the best point of the evening was the networking. My knees actually bent when I realized that the two lovely, very approachable women I was happily chatting to, while drinking tea, where Josephine Ward- Executive Producer for Children’s Drama and Lynne Marriott- CBBC Producer. If I knew BBC staff were so nice I would have applied for a job there 😉 My CV is on the way….

Biscuits and tea at the BBC

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