How I Got my job in TV

Verge

Sky’s Digital Executive Producer, Rich Payne tells us how he landed his first role, shares the best career advice he’s ever been given, and talks about working on Game Of Thrones spin-off Thronecast.

Words Rhiannon Picton-James @RhiannonPicton

 

So, what does his job title mean?

“My job title is embarrassingly long – I always see a convoluted job title as the sign of someone who doesn’t have a proper job. The title is Digital Exec Producer – Entertainment Marketing. The ‘Digital’ part relates to anything online, the ‘Exec Producer’ part means that I head up a team of producers creating digital content around Sky’s TV shows, and ‘Entertainment Marketing’ means I work on entertainment content, across multiple genres – from hard-hitting documentaries to Saturday night light entertainment, by way of scripted comedy and the big-budget US drama box sets.”

 

How he got started;

“I took American and Canadian Studies at the University of Birmingham, focusing on 20th century history and, crucially, film. I saved every penny I had and spent the lot on a Masters in History, Film and TV. It was a practical documentary-making course, which is why I took it. As part of that course I undertook a 3-month placement at a production company, which was another major draw. I had my heart set on joining Maverick TV’s fledgling New Media department – that’s what digital was referred to back then.I threw my all into it, while working at a cinema to pay the rent. It was the most exhausting time of my life but was worth it when they offered me a job at the end of the placement.”

 

How he survived on an unpaid internship;

“I was working 4 days for free and the other three days (plus one evening) at an arts centre, often pulling double shifts just to make sure I could make rent. I’m not from a privileged background, so I had no other option but to work 70 hours a week, every week, for about 3 1/2 months. No days off, no lie ins, and university assignments on top of that. When I look back now I’m not really sure how I did it.”

 

How an internship developed into a paid role;

“I was really fortunate, a big Channel 4 digital commission had just come in and they needed all hands on deck. Loads of TV people I know got their big break by luck more than anything else – being in the right place at the right time counts for a lot. I stayed with Maverick for the next seven years because the work kept coming, and we built a reputation for digital innovation that the company still holds to this day.”

 

The best project he’s worked on;

“I’ve been lucky enough to work on projects that won several BAFTAs, a Banff World Media Award, RTS awards, and even an International Emmy. Every project has been new and different, from Got To Dance to Portrait Artist Of The Year. Embarrassing Bodies was a constant in my life for a while; we made instructional videos showing people how to check their balls, boobs, and vulvas for signs of cancer (50 million views and counting), and created one of the earliest proper health apps that allowed people to test themselves for common health complaints- with over 20 million tests taken.”

 

The best career advice he’s ever been given;

“Find a way to make yourself stand out. Whether you’re applying for a Saturday job or pitching for a TV commission worth millions, bear in mind that you’ll be up against people whose CVs are at least as strong as your own, so do something different. Surprise people. Put a smile on their faces, or make them think. Stand out from the crowd in a way that feels intelligent, cheeky or memorable. Send something interesting in the mail. Nobody gets interesting post any more.”

 

The key to landing a job in TV;

“I don’t think a degree is necessary. It sounds obvious but you need to have drive, and a willingness to pick up the worst jobs. Showing initiative and enthusiasm is critical, as is watching a whole host of TV. It amazes me how many interns I’ve encountered who hardly watch any TV at all and expect to survive in the business.”

 

The next project we can look forward to seeing;

“The next big social campaign we’ll be delivering is for Game of Thrones and its Sky spinoff fan show, Thronecast. Also watch out for a couple of seriously spooky bits promoting Sky Living’s upcoming poltergeist drama starring Timothy Spall: The Enfield Haunting.”

 

Who to follow on Twitter for TV jobs and internships;

@ShuRichmond @mediamuppet @theunitlist @4talent @itvcareers @bbctrainees @bbcrecruitment @skyacademy @workforsky @noconcentrate @Productionbase

Want to work at Sky? Rich says; “Sky’s graduate schemes pay very well for entry positions, and are structured in a way that allows you to explore different departments and roles to help you to discover the right career for you.” You can check out their openings here.

Not a graduate? Sky Academy offer work experience placements, allowing you to get involved in real projects while being paid a salary.

Inspired by this article? join the conversation and tweet your questions @VergeMagOnline Wednesday 8th #OnTheVerge

 

Leave a Reply