John Forrest has worked on the staff of BBC local and network radio, ITV and BBC TV. He has been a freelance producer-director and media trainer since 2001.
The first thing about training is to realise it can be part of your job. After three years in college and surviving the exam process, it can be tempting to think that now is the time to be ‘getting on with the job’ and that all the negatives of school classrooms are behind us.
However professionals know the value of ‘personal development’ and in the media this can mean continued growth, new work opportunities and a fantastic boost both to your own skill bank and to your enjoyment of the job.
Whenever you are offered an opportunity to train in your profession, I’d always recommend taking it where you can. If you are fortunate enough to have a staff position with a big media player (such as the BBC) the possibilities should be clear - and on the internal training ‘gateway’ there are many things on offer.
Even if you are not fortunate enough to to be part of the BBC, you can still access much of their excellent training material and they have some excellent free on-line courses ranging from a good shooting guide to post production http://www.bbctraining.com/onlineCourses.asp.
The scope for training as a freelance media player is enormous. I have been freelance for nine years (following a BBC career) and find it tremendously stimulating, as well as an important aspect of my essential catch up with new technology. Sometimes it’s possible to think that ‘doing the job’ is a better use of your time than training for it. But I have found it valuable to consider training as part of my freelance portfolio. When you are on staff it’s highly likely you will take time away from the main task for ‘training days’ so it really is quite right to build the same into your freelance ‘job’.
Here are three tips for enjoying the training life:
1. Go to trade shows, and give yourself time to sit and listen to some of the workshops. For example, my trade show is the Production Show, held annually at Earls Court. There will often be featured workshops by the likes of Avid and Adobe. These will be facilitated by their experts and are friendly moments to see the software possibilities and ask lots of questions. Often there will also be workshops or presentations on freelance skills. I’ve picked up numerous tips from them.
2. Look up the training that might be available to you from Skillset, the industry training body with a portfolio for TV, radio, film and games. http://www.skillset.org/training/ . Whilst there are occasional charges, Skillset courses are frequently subsidised and often provide a wide range of possibilities. Such courses also offer great networking possibilities with people like yourself. Look for the local or regional media office connected with Skillset as they may offer further training opportunities. In the Northwest where I am based this is North West Vision and Media, and there are similar regional offices all over the U.K.
3. Consider your long term goals and whether you want to become involved in a full time media course. These are very popular. A few years ago surveys were discovering the a very high number of graduates wanted to pursue media careers. So if you do enrol on a media course, be aware that competition when you finish will be fierce. The course itself will not guarantee you a job. It’s important that you develop your own initiative - and that you can demonstrate what you have done.