364MC – Networking

I have been emailing professionals, asking for advice on how to start my career. I am hoping to gain lots of advice and tips on how to become a Floor Manager, also hoping this way I could gain some contacts for the future. I have also connected with many Floor Managers and people with similar careers, so I can see their posts and keep updated with potential job opportunities.

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I received a very honest reply from a freelance Floor Manager, Jo Hudd who has 15 years experience as a FM;

Hi Gemma,

Good luck with the rest of your degree! I will be as honest as I can be in
response to your message….it probably won’t be what you want to hear
though, for which I apologise.

Floor Management has become an extremely competitive field in recent years.
There is a very tight-knit group of experienced FMs and AFMs that do 90% of
the work within the industry. It is so hard for anyone trying to break into
the industry nowadays as it is very much a ‘dead-man’s shoes’ scenario, but
nobody is going anywhere! Obviously if people need cover, they ask one of
their experienced peers, rather than chance a new person.

When I started out, 15 years ago, it was a different world and relatively
easy to take steps into the field of FMing. I started at a shopping channel
(QVC) and worked a staff job there for 5 years (started as Floor Assistant
and worked up to FM). After 3 years, I started doing freelance work outside
of QVC and after 5 years I had enough contacts the leave the world of
shopping and go fully freelance.

The trouble with starting out in the FM world, is that there are very few
chances to earn money. If you take a part-time job to fund the early years,
it means that you aren’t always available when asked (often at very late
notice), which is a problem and yet having no money is a problem in itself,
particularly because most of the TV work is in London. You can, of course,
shadow for experience but in honesty this very rarely leads to paid work.

You may be better off trying to start out in Manchester, as the pool of
experience is far smaller and therefore easier to break into. Having said
that, I have experienced friends that moved up there to try and get more
work, are even they are struggling and having to take temp/bar jobs.

My advice, if you are still keen to pursue a career in Floor Management,
would be to perhaps try and get a staff job to get your experience…perhaps
a shopping channel, or a news or sport network or anything that broadcasts
from a studio 24/7. You really get a chance to cut to teeth in such an
environment and are being paid whilst doing so. Also, most of these jobs
are shift based, which leaves lots of time to freelance outside of your
working hours for free. Make sense?

Sorry to be so negative…it is a wonderful career and I love it dearly, but
I wouldn’t want to be trying to get into now if I’m honest.
However…good luck with it all…I wish you lots of luck.

Jo’

After reading the reply, my heart sank slightly. I thought I was getting way over my head and that there was no way I could start my career.  Although I knew it was going to be hard starting my career as a FM without much experience, I didn’t realise exactly how hard. However, I did then receive replies from Joe Wilcox who is the Floor Manager at ‘Rocks & Co’, Ben KeyStone a Studio Floor Manager at Jet Studios and Tom Neary a Floor Manager also from ‘Rocks & Co’ who said this;

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‘Hi Gemma,

Hope you are well. I can only really speak for my situation but I know people who are working on other shows as well and its generally the same.

I work for Rocks and you start out working on Crew which involves Cam Opping and Running which is good fun. Then work hard at that and positions will come available as there is high turn over of staff, people move on, get promoted themselves etc.

Most companies including my own will offer jobs internally first which is why it is so important to get into a company in anyway, for example there could be a position as a director available which will be offered to staff before it even makes it out the front door, basically you have a better chance if you are already there, even if you are ‘just a runner’.

In terms of Floor Managing itself it is sort of the same role as a runner however I would be in charge of making sure everything is done and I have more responsibilities, job delegation etc. Once again a fun but stressful thing to do on live television. As you are at Cov Uni im sure you done the television module at some stage and when I was there, there was a lot of ‘Job Roles’ to fill, this isnt the case in a real company as you will be doing about 5 of them at one time simply because if it needs doing to stay on air it needs doing and someone will have to do it.

Our standard setup is about 4 people and a presenter, this will include a Floor Manager, Crew Member (both of whom will take it in turns to operate the Cameras), Producer and Director with cover coming in throughout the day.

When looking for a job it is very competitive however its know what companies are in your area. London for example has a lot of television work along with Bristol, Birmingham not so much. You have to just apply and then the second you send it forget about it and move onto applying for something else. Targeting companies in your area is the best idea, finding out a lot about the company and when applying making it known you are local and show how much you know about them.

You can go and try and find the Heads of production and email them directly but more than anything its keeping and eye out and if a television company needs staff it will happen very quickly as they have to stay on air.

Hope that is helpful, let me know if you have anymore questions. Good luck in your degree say hi to Steve for me haha.

Thomas Neary’

Virtual Networking:

I will be networking to help my career, to become a Television Floor Manager. I have joined sites including; Linkedin,The Royal Television Society, Shooting People, No Film School and  Vimeo Video School. It is important for anyone in the Media Industry to be Networking, as it is a vital and successful way to create contacts and stay in touch with the contacts you already have.

I have set up a professional profile on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with potential jobs, keep in touch with my contacts and to be connected with the latest technology and social networking sites. Although Facebook and Twitter aren’t seen as being ‘professional’ sites, they are a great way to stay in contact with people and to promote yourself, as they are both used by so many people. Facebook is being used more and more by people now days starting out with their career.

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LinkedIn is a professional networking site, for all professionals, however it is commonly used for all Media Professionals. I have used the site to connect with not only people I know, but also potential employers, people in the same or a similar industry as i’m interested in and to keep up to date with potential jobs. LinkedIn will help with my Professional Development, as it can be used for more than just keeping contact with other professionals. It can also be used to look for work, post jobs, see useful links which other people post, previous jobs, work experience, internships, find other people within the same or a similar industry which you may need to contact and more. At the minute the most useful parts are finding work experience, internships, looking for jobs and viewing the useful link which other professionals post. These things will help find work to help me add experience to my CV. The other things such as previous jobs, keeping in contact with people etc, will help me once I have started my career and gained more contacts. Also it will allow me to keep in contact with previous jobs, incase they need me again. All of these things will help develop my future career to become a Floor Manager. 

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The ‘No Film School’ and ‘Vimeo Video School’ networking pages are a great way for me to keep up with the upcoming technology and video techniques which is being released. Although the sites are mainly used for short film makers, I will still be visiting them from time to time to find out the latest news. It is also a good way of gaining new contacts in a different media sectors, incase I ever need them.

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