International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day, Creatives!  Join us in celebrating this important campaign, which attempts year on year to help bring society ever closer to parity.

I spoke to female creatives across various industries to find out what International Women’s Day means to them, and what advice they have in store for emerging female creatives.

Click here to listen to Bridget Hamilton on the 99% Perspiration podcast

Click here to listen to Bridget Hamilton on the 99% Perspiration podcast

Bridget Hamilton
Founder of social community project Verbal Remedy, and Producer at BBC Radio Newcastle
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“In this day and age you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t consume some sort of media every day.  That’s why I think we as an industry have to be incredibly hot on issues such as gender parity.

“Not only do we have to work on equality for those who work for us (for instance, only 36% of people in your typical newsroom are female), but we also need to improve how women are portrayed in our documentaries and dramas.

“No one should be confined to playing the swooning doctor’s assistant or the

damsel in distress.  Of course, many of us will be able to think of women whose contributions to TV and film are far from tokenism, but there’s still a long way to go.”

99% Extra – Mike Pinchin, Video-Game Designer

12606959_10153928402063552_264623515_nA few times a semester (fancy talk for “a third of a year”), our radio classes at the University of Sunderland feature guest lecturers, usually people who are active in the creative industries.  Our last:  Mike Duddy, who recently shared a boom-handling session with our students.

But last week’s session excited me a lot.  And I mean a lot.

Mike Pinchin designs video games.  I remember a lecture with him back when I was a student, from 2010.  He’d recreated the university campus, and had Daleks patrolling the media building.  Since then, he’s been making money from releasing his own games on mobile platforms.  He designs the characters, the aesthetics, the sound…  And he joined our class to show us just how important sound is to enhance the immersive experience.  “There are people doing all kinds of awesome sound design in video games – whether they’re actual video games or interactive experiences.”

Continue reading “99% Extra – Mike Pinchin, Video-Game Designer”

99% Extra – Sheila Quigley, thriller author

Sheila’s an hilarious woman.  She’s the kind of person you could easily spend an afternoon with and wonder where the time went.  She’s a best selling crime/thriller author with an impressive 10 novels under her belt, and a fan-base which stretches from her works’ local setting in Hougton-Le-Spring, all the way to death threats from Down Under (from her fans in Australia, who apparently really don’t want her to hurt their favourite character.)

“There’s a lot of luck in getting your work published, but it all depends who you’ve got behind you.  There are some fabulous people who’ll do anything for you in this business, it’s beyond belief, but there are also some turds.”

We’re sat in the corner of the National Glass Centre’s cafe, in conversation with the Houghton-Le-Spring crime writer, and it actually feels like a conversation.  She’s on our level, we’re on her’s.  And it’s so humbling to meet someone who’s as down to Earth as the people gathered to meet her.

“I don’t plan,” says Sheila.  “I’ll have a title in mind, and a blank screen.  And I never know where it’s going to end up.”  But that’s what makes writing so exciting for Sheila.  “To me, writing a novel is like reading a novel.  I always get surprised, and I never know what will happen from chapter to chapter.”  No planning?  No structure?!  Stick that in your Writing 101!  “Because I want to know what happens, that’ll compel me to write.”

12539979_10153916875438552_676560072_nShe doesn’t even keep a log of events/characters.  “It’s all in my head.  I didn’t have an imaginary friend as a child, I had a dozen.”  But keeping such a rich world in her head at all times has its drawbacks too.  “I need to write one novel at a time.”

Whilst Sheila admits she doesn’t get chance to read as much as she’d like, she says it’s a very important part of being a novelist.  However – and here’s what really surprised me – she doesn’t read any crime novels.  “My favourite book is ‘The Strand’ by Stephen King.  I’d recommend it to everyone.”

“Don’t bother writing if you’re just chasing a path to fame and a big pay check,” says Sheila, “you need to be invested.  If you really, really want to do it, for the love of it, do it.”

Sheila still values the old system of publishing; getting on board with a publisher and having them (to some extent) promote the book for you.  But she advises you should “start by seeking an agent first.  Most publishers won’t look at anything without an agent’s backing.”  But she also values self-publishing.  “I know of many people who’ve become successful through publishing work themselves, and then being picked up by an agent.”  

“There’s more opportunity for emerging writers now than there’s ever been.”

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It’s been a whirlwind of a journey for Sheila, since she began writing novels in 2004.  12 years and 10 novels later, it’s fascinating to learn some advice from one of the local greats.  But there are still some twists and turns in store Sheila had one of her biggest dreams-come-true:  Her debut novel ‘Run for Home’ was adapted for the stage and showcased at the Greater Manchester Fringe last year.  Sheila says she’ll never forget the experience of her.  “Seeing my characters come to life in-front of me was truly amazing.”

For any emerging novelists reading this, I’d thoroughly recommend you meet as many writers as you can.  If there’s a meeting, or a book signing, go and say “hi”.  Ask questions.  Make connections.  Because they may turn out to be thoroughly lovely people, like Sheila, and they may well start you on the right path.  “There’s a lot of luck in getting your work published, but it all depends who you’ve got behind you.”

nyf-gold-award-jay-sykes-circle-crop1
And, as always,
Stay productive, stay awesome!

Jay Sykes
Executive Producer, 99% Perspiration

99% Extra – Mike Duddy

Mike Duddy is a freelance Sound Recordist / Post Sound Mixer / Audio Engineer, based in the North East of the UK.  His recent projects include working on ITV’s Beowulf, the BBC’s Dumping Ground, and on various feature films.

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Mike taught two sessions with our first year radio production students yesterday (where I lecture on audio production & journalism) on how to use boom poles effectively, and what to expect from a career in sound recording.

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So, the essentials.  “Being a boom operator is all about creative problem solving.”  Mike explained the art of being as discreet as possible whilst carrying out the role on set, whilst seeking the best quality audio possible.

“A little difference in space makes a big difference in sound, so you have to get as close to the dialogue as possible, without getting the boom in frame.”  They’re the very basic principles, of course, but the more you research and the more you practice, the more skilled you can become.  Down to memorising the spacial qualities of each lens being used.  That way, “if you hear a crew member shout out for a specific lens change, you’ll know instinctively how close you need to be.”

Mike asked the class what qualities they thought were essential to boom operation.  Second suggestion in both groups; being tall.  “Being tall is helpful, of course, but it’s not essential.”  What’s more essential to the profession is patience, steadiness, an ability to pick up scripts and sequences, and most of all, top-notch stamina.

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“You’re always chasing the best “polar pattern” (each different kind of microphone picks up a different shape of sounds around it).  It depends on the actors, of course; Hollywood types are professional at repeating movements and delivery in the same way with each take.”  But that’s not always the case, and a lot of the time he’s just acting on instinct to best capture the dialogue.

It must be a difficult task, to predict the movement of actors, but I was even more surprised when Mike revealed how he achieves this:  “I’ve learned to read neck muscles, they’re usually the first sign that someone is turning their head.”

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We’ve chatted about some of the fundamentals of recording sound, but what about the business end?  Some students asked Mike about how easy it is to pursue a sound career in the screen industries.

“Broadcasting companies like ITV and the BBC take on very few staff across their TV projects, and mostly use freelancers.  It’s standard to get on board with a fixed term contract, for instance my work on Beowulf was a 27 week contract.”

His advice mirrors Joanna Makepeace‘s recommendations in the latest episode of the 99% Perspiration podcast; “It’s mostly ad-hoc work – you’ve got to email producers, email line producers.  You’ll often get work from knowing people, knowing sound mixers, knowing boom operators, knowing film crews; so get out there and meet people.”

“It is quite a competitive industry.  There’s a lot of jobs, but a lot of people.  Stay professional, keep emailing.  Don’t pass up opportunities to meet people, to do work experience.”

“A lot of people say they’re keen to get into the industry, but many of them don’t get out there, aren’t proactive.  You’ve just got to do better than the guy next to you.”

“I watch a lot of TV shows, and you can get names from the credits and shoot them an email.  And then put yourself forward for shadowing, ask if there are any opportunities going…”

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And finally, one of our students asked the all-important question of how much you can make from a sound design career working in TV.

“You can get up to about £300 a day working with TV crews as a boom operator.  Which is better than a lot of professions!”

“And there’s a lot of work in commercials as well – there’s massive companies who spend millions on 30 seconds, so that’s great to get into; not just for sound, but for other industries too.”

If you want to find out more about Mike Duddy, and what it’s like to have a career in sound recording, make sure you check out his website.

 

 

99% Extra – Here’s Ben Tompkins Trying to Get a Job in Radio

Back in Episode 3 of 99% Perspiration, soon-to-be radio graduate Ben Tompkins shared that he was making a documentary for his dissertation project. It’s a one-off piece where Ben interviews several people who work in radio careers.

“Ben Tompkins travels around the North East of England searching for advice on how to get a job in the radio world.”

Included in Ben’s awesome documentary…

Giles Tanner – Managing Editor of Global North East

Tom Campbell – Drive Time Presenter, Heart Radio

Tom Davies – Head of Careers and Employability Service at the University Of Sunderland

Emma Snook – Producer at Amazing Radio

Jay Sykes – Freelance Producer and Lecturer in Radio Drama

Until next time…

Stay productive, stay awesome!

99% Extra – Bryan Talbot talks Wonderlands: the UK Graphic Novel Expo

If you love graphic novels, and live in the North East, you’ve probably heard about tomorrow’s Wonderlands expo – the first graphic novel expo in the country. It’s set to be a fantastic day of talks about graphic novels, with a rich plethora of industry voices offering advice and insight about the future of the medium.

Bryan Talbot

Click here to hear from Bryan Talbot

Bryan Talbot, renowned creator of Granville, The Adventures of Luther Arkwright & Alice in Sunderland – Bryan tells us about why he is looking forward to the expo, and how budding graphic novel authors can benefit from coming along.

If you want to hear more from Bryan Talbot, his journey, and helping young writers, he’ll be telling us more about his journey and offering advice on next week’s podcast (which you can find on iTunes from Wednesday at 6pm) and for more information about tomorrow’s Wonderlands expo, head to www.wonderlands.org.uk

99% Extra – Funding Applications

Jan Williams from the Caravan Gallery is no stranger to funding applications. The whole reason she and partner Chris are able to travel the country bringing community-based art to locations across England is because of funding from the Arts Council.

So I wanted to ask Jan more about funding, and what advice she has to pass on, to make that funding application go more smoothly.

Until next time…

Stay productive, stay awesome!

Jay