News Reel & Blog

Written by Jack Hopkins on 28th March 2018

It was our HR Forum on Thursday, which focused on the changing contemporary workplace and the effect it could have on media companies. We hold the HR Forum every other year with Lumina Search, and it continues to be a well attended event, with delegates arriving from different sectors and industries within the larger media landscape. 

Huge thanks for NBC  Universal  for hosting us this year, as well as our sponsors, Lewis Silkin and Grapevinejobs. Everyone came together for a really insightful day, listening to sessions on the media landscape, gender pay, employee practices and the future of the workplace. We had speakers from A+E Networks, Ofcom, Creative Diversity Network and Twickenham studios as well as our host and sponsor speakers from NBC Universal and Lewis Silkin. We can’t thank our speakers enough as they delivered fascinating talks on issues that are affecting the contemporary workplace.   

 Rob Bell (EVP - International New Media) of NBC Universal kicked off the day’s proceedings with a fantastic insight into the evolving media landscape. Rob highlighted the noticeable boom in popularity for TV drama and how the move from linear to on-demand viewing has acted as a catalyst. He also explained to the audience that, due to the variety of content on offer, it’s no surprise that tech companies like Apple and Facebook are becoming producers of content, in an attempt to profit from the new spectator binge culture.

 Up next, we had our gender equality panel. Chaired by Jacquie Hughes (Director of Content Policy) of Ofcom, our panel was comprised of Laura Farnsworth (Partner) of Lewis Silkin, Deborah Williams (Executive Director) of Creative Diversity Network and Maria Walker (COO) of Twickenham Studios. They discussed their own experiences of equality in the media environment and collaborated with audience members in discussions surrounding the legislations and HR practices that exist in the workplace.

We then had Russell Brimelow (Partner) and Alexander Milner-Smith (Managing Associate), both of Lewis Silkin, discussing the burning agenda within media and the effect the newly released gender pay reports will have on the workplace. Russell explained how the reports continue to show male dominance in the workplace, which explains why it’s a widely discussed topic in the current climate. Alexander concluded with a session about the impending GDPR regulations and how to prepare for them, which was extremely helpful considering the deadline is now under 2 months away.

   Karl Burnett (VP of Human Resources) of A+E Networks followed, and explained how A+E Networks won the 2018 Broadcast Award for Best Places to Work in TV, despite being partially reluctant to enter. Karl pointed towards the staff survey that was internally distributed as a key factor in their success. It showed an extremely high satisfaction amongst employees towards their roles and the workplace itself, and accredited the company’s culture behind the exceptionally high survey results.  

To close proceedings, we had James Davies (Divisional Managing Partner) of Lewis Silkin discuss the future of work. He provided a handful of statistics that were happy reading for the HR professionals that were in attendance, which perfectly closed the day’s talks . He stated that, in the future, the risk of HR Managers’ jobs going was at a minuscule 1%, when in comparison, telemarketer jobs had a 99% chance of going.

It was a great day to discuss, learn, network and eat, with incredible breakfast and lunchtime spreads provided by NBC Universal.   

Endless thanks to our sponsors, speakers and everyone who came along – we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!

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Written by Jack Hopkins on 15th March 2018

A lot has been said about the changing nature of contemporary workplaces. What with the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns coming to the forefront in the last year or so, equality and diversity remains a much-talked about topic.

We pride ourselves on being a diverse and equal company, and our HR Forum next week (in conjunction with Lumina Search) will explore the media landscape, gender equality, the future of the workplace and many more topics. In preparation, we’re going to explore the state of play within workplaces and what companies are doing (or could be doing) to improve the situation.

The places in which we work are always changing. Changing in ways to make our lives easier, more cost effective and in some cases, a bit more trendy. CMS Wire have predicted that “by 2020, 50 percent of the workforce will be comprised of millennials who’ve aged with the evolution of technology.” This digital workspace will build upon the recent influx of remote workers and will adapt through AI, VR and bots that will potentially improve our every-day lives.

In a recent article by The Guardian, Arielle Bernstein states that in TV, it should be “about the insistence that women should get credit for the very real work they do, and acknowledging that women shouldn’t be viewed as “tokens” when they are the best and the brightest.” This very poignant opinion is reflected in advancements that can be seen within the music industry.  Spotify have produced a tool that shows the gender breakdown of a user’s music choices and several big-name music festivals/events have pledged to a 50/50 gender split of their line-ups by 2022. Things are beginning to change, but it’s the speed and nature of change which continues to fuel discussion.

Evidently, there are efforts to bring about a more equal workplace, but the damning news regarding Clare Foy’s pay in The Crown delivers a major dent in recent efforts.It’s emerged that she is earning less than her regal counterpart, Matt Smith. This raises the questions about how much change can realistically occur in the near future if a female actress, who is playing the most famous and iconic figure in the world, is getting paid less than their on-screen husband. Today’s news does show some promise in the future though, with the revelation that the production company, Endemol Shine, have no gender pay gap within their UK operations. Although this shows some progression, it also shines a damming light on those companies where pay gaps still exist.

It’s becoming more evident that there have been improvements to narrow the divide between gender pay and working conditions in certain sectors of the media industries, and not so much in others. We hope that our HR Forum will spark even more discussion on the debate, even if it’s still incomprehensible that we still finding ourselves talking about the divides that still exist in our workplaces.

#HRforum2018

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Written by Jack Hopkins on 6th March 2018

Last night, we were lucky enough to attend an amazing panel session headed by some of the creatives behind the critically acclaimed Netflix series, The Crown.

It was hosted by RTS Futures at The London Transport Museum, with the following giving the audience an amazing insight into how the show was created, from storyboard to screen:

Director – Ben Caron

Production Designer – Martin Childs

Costume Designer – Jane Petrie

Editor – Pia Di Ciaula

VFX Supervisor – Ben Turner

SCRIPT

There was a running theme across all in attendance when they were asked about the early stages of development. They all agreed that they read the script from the position of a fan to establish the immediate excitement that comes from the programme. Di Caula revealed that, much like a lot of Netflix viewers,  she binge reads the entire series over one weekend. After reading the script for the first time, it then comes to putting the script into action, with Caron stating it’s like “breaking something down like German engineering,” establishing where the budget is going to be spread and establishing the truth of the story in the script.  

PRODUCTION

As you can imagine, there is a gargantuan amount of production that goes into something as high-budget as a Netflix series, with each episode costing over £7 million to make. Childs confirmed that there were 398 different locations throughout the first season and in one 20 second clip that was aired to the audience it was established that there were 7 different locations involved, ranging from a cliff’s edge in South Africa to the Thames. Later on in the evening we see a scene which involves a photo-shoot with Princess Margaret, with Caron revealing that it was shot in the same room as the first season of Dragon’s Den.

HISTORY

Being a historical programme, the history had to be refreshed to make it more appealing. The fact that the programme is chronological in nature suggests that the developments in technology, themes and fashion needed to be transformed by degrees. For example, in the second season, the royal wedding in 1947 was an austere affair, so this needed to be shown in the series without damaging the lavish feel of the entire show. All of the panel members watched copious amounts of films about the same era, helping them leave additional fragments of history to give the progression of time more substance.

CHALLENGES

Every member of the panel were apprehensively excited about the show. Turner realises the enormity of a VFX project at the script-reading stage, case and point when he read the script for The Crown and though, “there are bombers in this scene, that’s probably me.” The same can be said about the extensive costume design that Petrie had to manage, with additional clothing and accessories being required at all times to adapt to changes in fashion. The main challenge though seems to come through the conflict between truth and drama. They all agreed that the series didn’t set out to be a documentary, but the extensive team of researchers and designers helped create a historical backbone which allowed the writer, Peter Morgan, to explore the relationships of the characters a lot more intensely.

Many thanks to the panel members and The Royal Television Society for hosting – if you haven’t watched The Crown yet, make sure you do.

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Written by Jack Hopkins on 5th March 2018

It was the 90th Academy Awards last night and yet again there were more records broken, emotional acceptance speeches and controversial on-stage jokes.

It would be rude not to start with Gary Oldman. An actor that has been consistently plugging away at a variety of roles, from playing Dracula to portraying Winston Churchill – he’s done it all. It’s his performance as the wartime Prime Minister that has sealed the critically acclaimed award for Gaz, though. His acceptance speech was just as momentous, crediting his 99 year-old mother who was watching the ceremony from her sofa.

Jordan Peele became the first African-American to win the Best Original Screenplay for the incredible Get Out. His film has become an absolute game-changer, pushing the boundaries of race relations and blurring the divide between comedy and drama to deliver an incredible debut masterpiece.

Kobe Bryant added to his 5 Championship rings after winning the Oscar for Best Animated Short for his brilliant production, Dear Basketball. It was an emotional night for one of the greatest basketball players of all time, stating that he felt “better than winning a Championship.”

After receiving 14 nominations over a 35 year career, British cinematographer Roger Deakins has finally won for his work on Blade Runner 2049. The 68 year-old has an incredible catalogue of work, featuring Barton Fink, The Shawshank Redemption, The Big Lebowski and many more so it’s brilliant to see him finally win.

Congratulations to everyone who won and to anyone who managed to stay awake and watch it!

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