So, you want to get into television?
Well, it’s an interesting title, and it sounds full of promise, but I have to say, right now that it’s not a done deal. Many people who ask me about getting into ‘showbiz’ do so for all the wrong reasons. They see it as an easy, quick way to make a buck or two. If, deep down, (and be honest with yourself) you think that might be you, have a look at my biography on this site, have a look at how long it took and decide, really, if you can be arsed!
If you have doubts now, thank you for reading this far, good luck in what you achieve, but I can’t help you.
I didn’t want to get into ‘showbiz’ I wanted to get into broadcasting. I had no interest at all in the ‘fame’ aspect of it all (in fact, I still don’t) I just loved the size, scale, technology, team work, excitement and innovation. After nearly 30 years on the telly, I still love the smell of a tv studio, a mixture of electricity, paint and bulls***!
By saying you’re interested in telly (or radio, or films) you join a multitude who all had the same idea. Are you pursuing this because you love it? You have a burning passion? It keeps you awake at night? You watch TV, not just for the shows, but for a taste of how it’s made? A gliding camera accidentally in shot? The glimpse of a floor manager steering the studio through a problem? If that’s you, HELLO! You are already head and shoulders above the rest.
If you want to get into TV…. What do you want to do? There are literally hundreds of different areas? Cameras? Sound? Direction? Presenting? Research? If you know, remember that everyone doing that job has got experience, getting the experience is the tough bit. You might not realise this, but television is hard work!
You’ll be expected to put in some long hours; initially the pay isn’t very good. It’s very seldom glamorous. But know this; there are very few lazy, successful people in the business.
Write to those on the list of credits you see at the end of the shows you like. They will more than likely be surprised to get a direct approach, suggest you shadow them for a day or so, don’t take no for an answer, be politely insistent. Be interested and eager, but not a pain. It’s a fine balance, but one you must find.
If you are in any way rude, a ‘know it all’ or a smart arse, forget it. The next letter or email they get will be from someone who isn’t! It’s a small business and it’s a tough but honest person who will tell you that it doesn’t owe you anything! There is practically no chance that your first job will be in a high profile position on The X-Factor or The Cube. Be prepared to start from the humble, coffee making beginning and work your way up with a mixture of brains, personality, ability and being able to think outside the box.
Remember this word.. INITIATIVE!! When it comes to finding contacts and addresses, don’t ask me! Use your initiative; it’s all on the net.
Presenting is a VERY tough field to break into. A very small number take the short cut, appear on a reality show and impress with some sort of quirkiness. Nothing wrong with that, except that it only lasts beyond a fortnight for a very few, and the chances are they secretly have many of the qualities I mentioned a moment ago.
My advice would be to get hold of a camcorder (a phone is seldom good enough quality or versatile enough), if you don’t have one, does someone you know have one you can borrow? Present to it, over and over again. Be yourself, be natural, be original. Try interviewing people you know, and remember, if you’re interviewing, listen! Don’t just have a list of questions you have to get through, be prepared to go off track if they say something that’s more interesting than your next question. Record, check, do it again. Do it until you are absolutely sure it’s the best you can be. Then get back to those credits and find someone to send it to, either on a flash (expensive) or email them… what’s their email did I hear you say? INITIATIVE
If you’re still reading this and you haven’t been put off, I like your style. Persevere, take the knocks and come back smiling and positive, if there is a problem, think round it, over it or through it, but don’t give up.
If all that works… I look forward to working with you in the future.
You can apply for various full time and temporary experience positions by visiting the ITV Job page.
To apply for work experience at ITV, go to their work experience page.