Friday, 16 November 2007

Those who work in tv

It's become fashionable to say that people who work in tv are hard done by. A mainly freelance job, people milling around from programme to programme, with no job security, no career path or bugger-all benefits; long hours, tight deadlines, even tighter budgets. And on top of that now they're are being accused of - gasp! - fiddling with reality to make their shows better.

Woe is me, what is to be done, this can't go on, ah tell yeeh Cap'tn, the engines cannae tekk it etc. etc.

My considered, carefully thought out (and not at all just typed in here with no thought or idea where I'm going with it - perish the thought) view is: what a load of arse.

I base this on a recent "ideas 'meeting" with a tv production company. I don't really go to many of these places, and am lucky that most of the people I work day-to-day with are (a) normal; (b) older than the average tv worker age (twelve); and (c) were picked by me in the first place.

I'd saved this company's arse a few weeks' beforehand, stepping in to help out at short notice when they were let down. They were full of promises about guaranteed series' work and good money and jelly and ice cream and- well, anyway, they were really grateful and the work we did for them went down a treat with their customer. So well this new meeting was being held to brief me on the next step on the road to a commission.

Then I found out they'd asked someone else to pitch for the work too. Hmmm.

So there I was, sitting next to a boy/man wearing wellies "because it just seemed like that kinda day". In my view "that kinda day" would've meant six inches of water and/or mud outside, not the dry and unseasonally warm morning in autumn but there you go. He was the boss. Sitting on my other side was a "creative director" who just doodled on a pad the whole time, just drawing the show's title over and over again. I met an "online content" producer who typed on a laptop the whole time. He was online so he was content.

I came up with some ideas, trying not to think that (a) I was too old for this; (b) why do people wear jeans that only come halfway up their arses; and (c) even ironic mullets look stupid on the top of people's heads.

The assembled throng of telly's top talent seemed to think my ideas were good. Very good. So damn good they sent me the same ideas in a "briefing document" about what they wanted for their show a few days later. Fair enough, you may say, but they also sent this document to another company that was pitching for the work. A company run by people with amusing hair and Russell Brand trousers.

Guess who got the gig?

The funny thing is that even though I've got a right to be a bit miffed by all this, and we could do with the work, it's actually A Very Good Thing we didn't get it. As you may be able to tell, I don't think that company and myself are, er, creatively compatible. I also pitched some work I've reversioned into something much, much better, something potentially vastly more lucrative.

And the minute I sat down at the table for the first meeting I knew nothing would come of it. It didn't affect anything I did or said - I've been in far too many lost cause pitch meetings for that - but I just knew. And so it came to pass. Next time I'll trust my judgement more.

Oh, and the not-at-all-tacked-on point I started to make is that tv is full of people you really wouldn't want to sit next to.

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