Last month during Creative Media Network Scotland’s Student Festival at Glasgow’s CCA, RTS Scotland Committee member James Wilson met with a panel of experts to discuss their route in to the industry and how their experiences along the way helped carve their careers.
Kevin McCrae, cofounder of animation and visual FX specialist company Playdead recounted his beginnings in London, first studying and then picking up work amongst various VFX companies, before getting a break with Firecracker Films, where he worked as a motion graphic designer. Following his move back to Scotland; he and his business partner founded Playdead, who are now responsible for the graphics on various primetime shows such as BBC Two’s Trust Me, I’m A Doctor, and has won the RTS Scotland Craft Award for Professional Excellence in Post Production: Graphics and Titling for BBC Two Scotland’s Planet Oil, along with partner Jonny Harris.
Biança Barker, series producer and director of Steadipix Productions boasts an impressive twenty years experience in the media industry. She too went to university to study her craft, attending the National Film School before climbing the career ladder; working as a script supervisor, a researcher for children’s television and as a programme producer before finally achieving her goal in producing and directing factual programming. Now at the top of the chain in Steadipix, Biança oversees the production of documentaries such as BBC Two’s A Family Divided and STV’s Now It’s Gone.
Connor Reilly is a freelance filmmaker who graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland before going on to find his way in the industry. After a few years of working as a camera assistant, Reilly reconsidered his focus and began shooting online documentaries for companies, which soon snowballed and he was commissioned by Glasgow artist Gerard Burns to create a documentary on his life and work. Reilly underlined the importance of perseverance when starting out in the industry, as well as networking wherever you find yourself.
Margot McCuaig is the founder and Director of purpleTV, as well as the Executive Producer for BBC Scotland and BBC ALBA’s sport output. Having always known she was interested in telling stories, McCuaig explained how she had a slightly more incidental route in to the industry. After studying she began working in museums, and after curating a short factual film project in her role at the museum she realised that she wanted to follow that direction her career. She went on to work for Celtic TV, became the Sports Editor and Managing Director for BBC ALBA before setting up Purple TV, which was founded on International Women’s Day 2013. McCuaig stressed the importance of ‘making connections, and making yourself present’ when working in the industry.
The panel urged the audience to maintain confidence, integrity and a strong work ethic when fledging their careers in the media industry. In these modern times, it is essential to be adaptable; the ability to work across varied genres is a great tool when starting out. They reminded the students to make the most of any placements or resources they have available to them, and that ‘leaving a lasting impression’ is one of the keys to succeed within the industry.