Posts by ellaswain

Alumnus Greg Walker Produces Pilot Light TV Festival

29 April 2016

Salford alumnus Greg Walker graduated in 2013 with a degree in Film Studies. Since then, he’s worked in film exhibition for the likes of Grimm Up North and Scalarama, as well as founding RAD Screenings, a specialist film night showing old-school double bills. Next up is Pilot Light, a brand new festival dedicated to the best TV content from around the world. We caught up with Greg to find out more.

What is Pilot Light?  
It’s a festival dedicated to celebrating the past, present and future of TV and independent web series, with an eclectic selection of screenings and some great Q&As. Whether you’re a TV fan or someone who works in the industry, it’s the perfect way to celebrate the shows you love so much, while discovering new content from the fast developing world of indie TV.

What inspired you to start the festival?
I’m a huge TV fan and had been working at various film festivals when I thought: “Why isn’t there anything like this for TV?” That planted the seed, and as I was already attending screenings of things like Breaking Bad in bars and pubs, I realised that there was an increasing appetite for communal TV watching. 99% of us watch television on our own, yet we spend 99% of our time talking to people about it at work, on social media and so on. With Pilot Light I wanted to create a place where fans could experience, discuss and celebrate TV together, along with the talented people who make it.

Is this the first festival you’ve produced?
It’s the first one I’ve produced from scratch. The most difficult part has been building new partnerships. With film festivals, there’s an established way to deal with distributors, sales agents and producers, but the world of TV has proved very different; pretty much no-one I’ve encountered has worked with a TV festival before, so that’s been a real learning curve. On the flip side, I’ve received so much support and that’s been really humbling. Building something from the ground up has been an incredible experience.

What events are you most looking forward to?
Our Nathan Barley and Snuff Box events are two that I’ve been planning for a while now, so it’s going to be really exciting to watch these two great, but under-appreciated cult comedies with an audience, followed by panels with Charlie Condu and Matt Berry, who worked on the respective shows.

You’re showcasing web series as well as more traditionally viewed TV content. What have you got coming up in this strand?
We opened submissions for web series like a film festival would, and we had great content sent in from around the world. 90% of our web series were handpicked from these submissions, and we looked for shows whose pilots had the potential to be the next big thing. One of my favourite web series in the programme is Concrete Jungle, an animated comedy about animals and humans co-existing in New York. It stars John DiMaggio (Adventure Time) and Hannibal Buress (Broad City), and is created by Steven Cartoccio, who will be with us to introduce episodes 1-3 of the show, at the festival.

Pilot Light TV Festival is part of Create Salford. It takes place from Wednesday 4 to Sunday 8 May at the University of Salford, HOME and Gorilla. For more information visit pilotlightfestival.co.uk

Breaking into the Media Industry

29 April 2016

Paul Broster is the Director of Journalism at the University of Salford. Ahead of the upcoming Daily Telegraph Academy Day at Create Salford, we got his tips on how to break into the media industry.  

How did you get your first job as a journalist? 
My first break in the media industry was landing a job as a trainee news reporter at the Knutsford Guardian, which is a local weekly newspaper. Like a lot of people who work in the media, I landed the job by signing up to do work experience with my hometown’s local newspaper, the Sale and Altringham Messenger. When the job came up in Knutsford, the editor in Sale recommended that I went for the interview and I presumably impressed the Knutsford editor enough to get my first job. So it was really about hard work and effort. Work experience paved the way.

How has the media industry changed since then? 
In terms of finding work, I don’t think the landscape has changed too much for graduates who roll up their sleeves and are prepared to take opportunities outside of their studies. Studies are important, they give you grounding and knowledge as well as training and skills to do the job. But now it’s even more important to take on work experience or one-off projects. The main obstacle is impressing the employer before you get to the job interview.

What are the challenges facing graduates now?
The proliferation of digital and online media has presented a different challenge, but also a very exciting one. On one hand there’s a desire from the industry to see students produce a lot of content, so they’ve almost got to work a bit harder. But on the other hand it’s exciting because students have got the opportunity to blog and use social media and build a really powerful presence.

What qualities have impressed you about Salford graduates?
It’s their determination to do well. I also think that our students have a real desire to get their hands dirty – they have a thirst for working in the industry while they’re here. A lot of our best graduates do this and also take up opportunities that come through the University.

Are there any major pitfalls to avoid when trying to get into the industry? 
There are many pitfalls: for one, professionalism and courtesy is really important. If someone helps you on an email, email them back and say thank you. When you go on work placements, show that organisation that you’ve researched what they’re about. You can quickly lose the respect of potential employers if you don’t do some basic homework or show a lack of professional courtesy. I also think it’s not enough now to just get a degree. You’ve got to get a good degree from a good institution like Salford, but you also need to build up your CV. Students who ignore that will find it a lot harder than students who fully engage with outside opportunities.

What three pieces of advice would you give someone wanting to break into the industry?
First of all, engage with every external opportunity you have. This is really important, because it not only builds up your skills and confidence, but also allows you to network and meet potential employers. Secondly, don’t be put off. We’ve all had knockbacks, whether that’s applying for jobs or pursuing stories. Instead of being disheartened, go back to the person and say, “I didn’t make it this time, could you give me any tips?” People respect that. The third one is make sure you’re multi-skilled. Writing is still crucial but being able to use video, audio and engage fully with social media and mobile technology is equally as important. You need the whole package now to be an effective journalist.

You can get more information on how to break into the media industry at The Daily Telegraph Academy Day on Tuesday 3 May. Speakers from The Daily Telegraph will be delivering workshops from 12:00 – 17:30 at MediaCityUK.

Hear from Photography graduate Laura Parkinson at Create Salford’s Alumni Week

25 April 2016

Ahead of her workshop in Create Festival’s Alumni Week, Photography graduate Laura Parkinson talks more about her Salford experience

Q: What have you been up to since graduating?
A: I graduated from Salford in July 2015, and since then I’ve progressed onto a PGCE in Further Education and Training. I’ve just secured myself a teaching role for September 2016, when I’ll be working with secondary and sixth form students teaching Digital Photography and Art and Design. I’ve also been working as a freelance fashion photographer, collaborating with other creatives to produce work for international magazines.

Q: How has your degree helped you to progress?
A: My degree provided me with the skills I needed to progress onto further study: it allowed me to improve my academic writing, and that helped me to achieve a master’s qualification. The combination of creative photographic projects and academic writing assignments allowed me to be artistic, while equipping me with good English skills. The technical staff on the course were amazing, and they taught me how to work with studio lighting and models.

Q: What did your student experience teach you?
A:
I learned to take every opportunity I was offered and commit 100% to everything I do. I also learned to value my friendships. I left Salford with a great bunch of friends, and without their support in my final year I wouldn’t be the photographer I am today.

Q: What advice would you give current students?
A:
The biggest piece of advice I’d give to any student no matter what level they’re at, is keep on top of your workload. There is nothing worse than realising two days before a deadline that you’ve got a 5000-word dissertation to complete, as well as four series of photographs and a load of blog work. The work you put in over the three years really does show at the end of your degree, and you will feel so much pride when you receive your degree certificate in your hand.

Q: What advice do you have for students once they’ve left University?
A:
Don’t fall at the first hurdle. I applied for a few teaching positions and photography jobs and had several knock backs. There were often days when I felt I wasn’t talented or clever enough, but I learned that adult life and the creative world can be tough, and you should never give up on your dream job. Now that I’ve secured a teaching position and have had my photography work published, I know that the time I spent labouring over job applications was worth it; and the same will be true when you land your dream position, trust me!

You can hear more from Laura in the Alumni Success Stories event at Create Salford. She’ll be speaking from 13:00 on Monday 25th April, in rooms 3.10/3.11 at MediaCityUK.
You can see more of Laura’s work at www.laurajaneparkinson.com

Jackie Kay talks about Flight, Feathers and Quilt

25 April 2016

Listen to chancellor Jackie Kay talk about ‘Flight, Feathers and Quilt’, the exhibition she’s curated for Create Salford. Alongside the exhibition, Jackie’s written the new poem ‘Books, Wings’. She reads it for us here. You can see ‘Flight, Feathers and Quilt’ in the Clifford Whitworth Library until Friday 30 September.