Carla-Jo Geraghty, 27, TV Editor
How did you get into the job: I studied Broadcasting at University College Falmouth, and while there I fell in love with editing and knew that it was what I wanted to do. Several months after graduating, I got a job as a runner for a post production company and worked my way up from there.
Job History: I'd been there a while and an opening for an assistant editor came up. I was lucky enough to get the job and worked on programmes like Fool Around (C4), FAQU (C4) and Art School (BBC).
Deciding I wanted to have a change from fast turn around reality television, I got a job as an assistant editor at an independent production company called Available Light. I worked on Johnny Kingdom's Exmoor (BBC2) and Ray Gosling (BBC4), which won a Grierson Award. Three months later I was promoted to editor. I've just finished a documentary on the life of Tony Benn for ITV1 West, which is also being screened in the Watershed Cinema in Bristol. After two years of working at Available Light I'm about to go freelance.
Best and worst bits: Editing is so creative, I love going through all the tapes and discovering little special moments which make a great story. It's great working with a good director and discussing all the possibilities of the programme. It's very rewarding and exciting when you finish a programme and it is well received.
You do have to work long hours and although you do spend time with the director you are often on your own for long periods of time in a dark room. There are constant deadlines, and you often have to make changes at the last minute so there is a lot of pressure.
Advice for wannabes: You have to have a certain amount of technical skills as you are working with computers and machines. Having a creative eye and a love of telling stories is important. You need to work well with others as you are helping to create the director's vision. Patience is essential as you often spend hours going through material to find what you need.
CV essentials: Doing a practical media course is really helpful as you get to grips with all the technical equipment that you will work with later on. Try and get some work experience; it's a great opportunity to make contacts. Watch lots of programmes of the genre you're keen to work in.
There is no set route for getting into the television industry. One approach would be to study media production either at university or try applying to film schools such as National School of Film and TV.
It's not essential to have a qualification in media however, and if you're willing to work your way up and learn on the job (which many do) then you could apply to be a runner in a production company, where you will then be able to make contacts and develop your career.
Most media jobs are not advertised, so you will need to send speculative applications, tailored to each company and learn how to network as contacts are invaluable in this industry. If you get a runner's job, try to pick up as much as possible, ask questions and show willing to learn the ropes.
If you become a valuable member of the team you are more likely to be considered for promotion when the opportunity arises.
The job description varies dependent on your role and the type of programme you are working on. You could be doing anything from flying to a desert in Africa to film a car rally through to sitting in an office completing the paperwork needed prior to a programme being broadcast.
Hours and days entirely depend on the production, and, given that TV is an entertainment industry, expect to work evenings and weekends. During production you'll be expected to be working all hours; but then you'll get longer breaks between jobs.
The media is a really competitive area, so having work experience on your CV can really benefit. It's an ideal way to make sure it's the right industry for you and what role you are suited to. Some larger companies, such as the BBC and Channel 4, advertise work experience schemes; alternatively you could write to the companies you are most interested in.
Nothing beats hands-on experience and you could also gain this by joining a local film group, which may give you access to equipment and a set of contacts. Try making your own short film, experiment with different techniques and learn from others. This would allow you to develop a show-reel, which can be a real selling point.
For most roles, a mixture of technical knowledge and creativity are needed, so try to demonstrate this in your show-reel or on your CV.
Details of specific training courses are available through the industry training body Skillset.
Television in general is an unstable, ever-changing career, and it is important to keep up with new technology. In-house jobs are rare and there is the possibility that if work dries up you will have to apply elsewhere. Going freelance can earn you more money and you will gain experience in a variety of genre. However, you need to be prepared for times when you may be out of work. Maintaining a good set of contacts should help you to remain in work.
By Jennifer Mitchell