Famous canine personality Hacker T Dog, who presents on Children’s BBC (CBBC) joined other presenters, film producers, editors and media experts for a special Festival in a Day at Edge Hill University.
Big names from across the world of film and television including; presenter Katie Thistleton (CBBC/Radio One), Blue Peter editor Ewan Vinnicombe, documentary maker Helen Littleboy (The Hotel, Channel 4), award-winning drone operator Carys Kaiser and Liverpool film producer Michelle Billington (Don’t Worry About Me) led sessions throughout the day hoping to inspire the next generation of industry professionals.
Hacker joked with students as he sat alongside fellow presenter Katie and floor manager Sarah Wilkens who explained the ‘setiquette’ of her job. Sarah, who has worked as a floor manager for over 20 years, said:
“There’s a lot going on in the studio. Presenters have the director and the gallery in their ear, they might have to read an autocue and interview guests. It’s my job to make sure everything comes together between the director, gallery and presenters. Sometimes everything can go wrong, this is where I come in.
“There’s no time to freeze and you have to be calm under pressure. I have to keep things running and boost morale. This could be me crawling on the floor to make sure something is in shot, to writing on big idiot boards to tell presenters how to pronounce a word. I’m responsible for the presenters, crew, guests, public, everything.”
Katie, who presents alongside Hacker spoke of her experiences of working with Sarah and told students to always pursue their passions regardless of what job they might be doing. She said:
“I trained as a journalist but after working on a community radio station realised I wanted to be in broadcasting. I took a role as a production management assistant which was essentially doing admin, then I became a PA to the controller of CBBC. Everyone said there was no way I could ever pursue my presenting dream as I’d be stuck as a PA.
“This was absolute nonsense. I had continued to be creative by working in local radio and when the presenting job came up I was able to tell them my work outside of that job. They could see my drive and that I loved being in broadcast, so they gave me a chance.”
“Everyone wants to be a presenter but getting work is hard so make sure you keep up any creative work, blogs, writing, radio, whatever so you have something to show alongside whatever role you take.”
Hacker’s puppeteer Phil Fletcher, who has had the role for over 10 years, explained how he took the job after working as a puppeteer in Butlins and Pontins.
Answering questions from the students Hacker said he loved Sue Barker and the most famous person he’d ever met was “the Queen, you know the woman on the money and the stamps.”
Ewan Vinnicombe, who was editor of Blue Peter for six years, told students about how they’d planned for the 60th anniversary of the show for three years and showed them the running order, script and clips from the final programme.
Students were also able to learn about innovation, a web presence and social media marketing in digital skills training sessions led by technology giant Facebook and delivered by Agent Academy and The Extraordinary Club.
In a CV writing workshop led by Abi Cattlin from the Children’s BBC Talent Team students were given tips to make their CV stand out from the crowd and land their dream job. Abi said:
“The perfect CV is no longer than two sides and is creatively designed so it stands out. It’s very structured and should always clearly state what media role the person is interested in with any ‘real’ industry experience outlined at the top.
“Students often make the mistake of calling themselves a director, producer, camera operator because of projects they’ve done whilst at university. This doesn’t count as industry experience which is what we’re looking for. If they haven’t got much experience that’s fine, include any paid employment as skills are transferable.”
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