Elder Millennial

It’s no lie, Millennial’s get a bad rep. With our kitch overpriced coffee, abrevs, complaints on socials and those dam-addictive falsified selfies

But we’ve also lived through a really strange era of transition (I’m sure way stranger than the discovery of fire or later, steam power!*), especially us Elder Millennial’s who straddled the bridge between a time of winding that tricksy escaped tape back with a pencil. Or the pesky tracking line that never quite disappeared, pulsating across the 4:3 screen ever so often to remind us that we weren’t really on a hunt for One Eyed Willy’s lost treasure. We were watching a film and just wished we were. Not like now, where the screens makes me feel like I’ve window-washed my eyeballs!

I class myself as an Elder Millennial, mainly because I heard it in a hilarious stand-up by Iliza Shlesinger on Netflix, and I thought, that’s a great way of setting me slightly aside from the hardcore Millen’s, making me less about the Twitter trolling and more about the cultured letter writing. I mean, it clearly doesn’t, but apparently denial seems to be one of our key traits so I thought I would embrace it.

Anyway, that’s exactly what I’ve started doing when I’m away with work. No, not the trolling. The letter writing! I’ve gone back to the era when pen and paper were Royalty and you got serious hand cramp after 15 seconds of serious scribing.

The thing I’m finding (and also remembering having had the historical duty of being a penpal; remember them!!?), is when you’ve got through an entire page with gorgeous joined up letters cascading into one another like a flowing babbling brook, but then you get too cocky and bang, a mistake is made, only this time there’s no backspace. You’ve got to live with a line through the shame and everyone knowing that you can’t spell buisness or seperately or definately.


Another thing I forgot and now remember is how bad my spelling is (!!) and of course having to live with zero emoji’s to emphasise a joke or statement (unless you draw them and lets face it, no sketch truly lives up to bull emoticon, poop emoticon!). It’s a tough life. But I power through, living with my mistakes, badly drawn pictures and inability to spell seperately.

*sarcasm alert

Trivial (but important) Travel Thoughts

Sitting at the airport waiting for a flight to Belgium, my main thoughts seem to be extremely trivia. Then again, I have always known I don’t really kick in until about 11am!

Antwerp City Skyline

Firstly, I’m not sure whether to get a coffee or not (I did)

Secondly, at 5am, I’m not sure whether it’s too early for food (I was ready)

And finally, how on earth do you pack for two days, keeping your suitcase in a suitably composed manner without the dreaded thought of everything spilling out once you start to creep the zip open… I’m so tempted to go and ask the group of business people sat opposite who seem to have brought a half filled rucksack and a small wheel on, barely worth the four wheels of support. Meanwhile I’m sat here like I’m about to go on an expedition to the Himalayas… did I really need that extra extra extra pair of socks? I’m only away until Thursday morning! (Still TBC on that resolve)

An hour later, and I’m on the plane.

[Boring but useful chat alert!]

I have recently bought a travel pillow (see told you… snooze) to try and eradicate the wonderful and most relaxing ‘bend and snap’ head bounce when falling asleep sat up. I decided I needed to do something after I headbutted the window on a flight back to London. In the end I bought a BCOZZY Travel Pillow and it’s amazing!

BCOZZY travel pillow

In the past I’ve always had a difficult relationship with the travel pillow. I’m not sure if my neck is too long or my shoulders are too low. Either way, it hurts. But the BCOZZY adjusts to your own posture and neck position. It’s great, and I managed my first ever sat up snooze without bend and snap head bounce. Bliss!

As the plane lands in Belgium I’m then met with my next problem… are we out the E.U. yet because I do NOT know which queue to join! Before I’ve had chance to Google, I’m swept into the All Passports queue. It’s there I learn we are still in the E.U. for a little longer… ahh well. I guess it was good practice.

And with that, I’m in sunny Brussels, ready to make my way to studio and watch their first record…..

New job. New blog

It’s been 5 whole years since my last post, and instead of giving you a random recap of which most of the information will be cut short, I thought I would just continue as if that time had not passed, and life had not taken me on the winding road to where I am now…


Travelling alone for work is always a strange experience. Restaurants are the most peculiar places I find, especially when there for dinner. You’re generally surrounded by families, friends and couples all on holiday, enjoying a relaxing dinner and drink at the end of a day of sightseeing or sunbathing. There’s a lot of time to ponder the world back home and wonder what everyone is up to at that particular moment in time.

There are obviously the fellow ‘working away’ soloists sat sporadically around the restaurant. You can always tell who they are, engrossed in an electrical device whether it be their phones, iPads, laptops or kindles. I’m not knocking this in the slightest. It’s a great way to keep in contact with those you miss and find yourself thinking about.

I started my new job as an International Format Consultant (Lahh-Dee-Day I know!) in May and since then, have been discovering just what this job is all about as well as travelling to various locations.

So what IS an International Format Consultant?

I’ll try and be brief but anyone knows me might know this might not be. I now work for what was BBC Worldwide but since April and ‘ the merge,’ it’s another arm of production in BBC Studios.

We’re a small team of 6; 4 flying consultants (of which I’m one), our team’s production co-ordination and our boss. We then work closely with two other teams so we sit with around 15-20 people. It’s a very sociable bunch, unless headphones are on and then not so much.

It’s our main goal to facilitate and encourage other broadcasters around the world to make the best version possible of a format. Whether that be Bake Off (yes the BBC own the international license to that – not including the UK or North America), Strictly (aka Dancing with the Stars to the rest of the globe), Astronauts or How To Stay Young, once the sales team have done their thing it’s passed onto one of us to help the local broadcaster produce their show.

Having spent 11 years in production, I thought I would miss the practical side more but alas, this job is so interesting and exciting that you don’t really get from carrying, dragging lugging, kit weighing a small huge elephant around the country. Anyone who knows how much I love Eurovision and the idea of being a Head of Delegation will understand when I say, the job is a bit like that.

I like to think of it all a bit like a James Bond film, but without the missions involving death… and there are zero guns… and no Martini’s; shaken or stirred (mainly because I don’t like them)… and zero Bond Girls… and no lasers or plans for world domination, but way more glitter and baking and laughing and some gadgets but they have been purchased through standard routes as opposed to customised by a guy with a letter for a name.

Now as I write this I’m on a flight back from Athens. Yes there are the usual crying babies surrounding me and I’ve finally found the balance for my headphones which means they are drowned out for the most part, without leaving me totally deaf.

The team I’ve been working with have been incredible and SO welcoming; a classic Mediterranean spirit. But I am also glad to be going home, even if the weather is 20 degrees colder. Gotta love British weather.

I guess these posts might be a way for me to keep track of what’s exactly happened. So when I’m 90, sat with Adam, looking out on my balcony (because I’m going to have a balcony) I can relive these moments. Like a diary for the new age… including pictures obvs!

So, to the future me, and anyone else who would like to come along for the ride, hope you like it…


Marketing Yourself at the BECTU Freelance Fair

If you missed me taking to the stage for the BECTU Freelance Fair, fear not! You can see some highlights here… (get your popcorn ready!)

The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of my own and not my employer.

Vision blue3 Vinten tripod review

Working in the Entertainment world of the media industry it’s always important for me to be able to get access to the equipment I use quickly and efficiently. The new Vision blue3 tripod from Vinten, has done just that. With its ease of use, flexible positioning and the amazing balance and drag control, I was very impressed with this new edition to the Vision blue series.

Once I received it, I had the tripod up and running in around 28 seconds (yes I timed it!) and the camera was attached ready to capture all the tension and drama of people emailing and walking around the office within a minute (what can I say, it’s a quiet week).

Seriously though, it’s reassuring to know though that if I am filming a sit down interview in a limited time, that I am confident the equipment I use will not only work correctly but be easy and simple to assemble. There’s nothing more embarrassing than when you’re trying to prop up one side of the tripod with your shoulder whilst adjusting the length of a leg and the tripod head slackens from poor manufacture and the camera wilts to one side. During this time, the talent is sat watching the live theatre comedy act before them.

The tripod head is so silky and amazing to use; it glides smoothly both for a tilt and a pan. As ever there’s the ability to adjust the resistance and a helpful balance bubble so you’re shots don’t turn out unintentionally Dutch. I couldn’t seem to find the button to illuminate the bubble, which is apparently available, and a function that we all know is only missed when not present. No one likes the task of holding a mobile phone in their mouth, trying to emit a light good enough to balance the bubble whilst two hands are already occupied.

When I took the tripod out for some ‘off road’ testing with a DSLR, it was great to know the legs could be individually adjusted, especially for those perfect wildlife shots when you might need the equipment to be stationary and static for an unlimited time. The pozi-loc clamps also contributed to the ease of use, allowing instant height alteration without fumbling with sticky screw adjustment clips.

One thing for those of you who buy the Vinten blue3 new, be aware that the rubber holders that keep the spreader attached to the legs are very stiff and need a lot of encouragement to be released.

The only other feature that I found required some muscular contribution was the bag the tripod came in weighed a considerable amount. Noteworthy for if you are travelling abroad or walking a distance… and no, this is not just because I am a woman! I did ask others to test out the weight and they agreed that for a tripod such as the Vinten bue3, you might need to invest in a more lightweight protective bag.

Overall I am yet again very impressed to this new edition to the Vinten family. The minor features I found couldn’t ever overshadow its professional and proficient manufacture. I can’t wait to see what other delights Vinten has in store for the future of filmmaking.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of my own and not my employer.

Tips on networking

Yesterday I went to a ‘managing your career’ workshop and the best thing to come out of it were a few networking tips that I would like to share with you…

  1. Share more information than you expect to get back
  2. Research an event/project/person before going to it/watching it/meeting them so you take an interest in what’s happening
  3. Be proactive – if you hear about something you can help with, volunteer for it! 
  4. Make the most of the events that you go to
  5. Keep your contacts up to date and use them – don’t just wait until that point when you need a job or want something. Drop people a line to say hello or ask for their opinion on something you’re working on
  6. Follow up on the contacts that you make quickly
  7. See yourself as part of a linked environment – it’s a small world after all!
  8. Become known as someone who can also connect others with one another – don’t be selfish
  9. Spend 10 minutes a day ‘bumping into’ people
  10. When possible, chose for a face-to-face meeting instead of picking up the phone

Generally, I think the overall consensus of networking is a bit like exercise or learning a new language – it’s all about little and often. 


I hope this has been a little useful for you. It was for me. I’m replenishing my business card stash as I type!!

The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of my own and not my employer.

Big Chat and How To Win Eurovision

2013 has certainly been an interesting year so far. I have had three Assistant Producer broadcast credits; Comic Relief’s Big Chat with Graham Norton, How To Win Eurovision and Eurovision 2013 The Semi Finals.  

Things that I have learnt whilst being a linear AP (that means an AP that works on the TV show and not just on the website):

  • Always have a pen (or about 10)
  • Never underestimate the power of a smile
  • Coffee can be your best friend and worst enemy at the same time
  • Taking a Tupperware to a foreign location might seem stupid at first, but actually with some clever hotel breakfast material you can make a scrummy sandwich for lunch AND save money!
  • Headaches are a way of your body telling you, you’ve had too much coffee

Comic Relief’s Big Chat with Graham Norton

This production was generally about me working as a cross platform Assistant Producer again. In the build up to the show I would work with the Edit Producer to make the hilarious VTs (which were dropped in the end for timing reasons). I filmed using a Canon 305 at various locations, from the glamorous red carpet in the ice cold rain (always bring a coat!), to the super hot basement dressing rooms of Television Centre (R.I.P.). A few of the locations also allowed me to use a bit of lighting which was just to basic 3-light interview setup.

On the night of the live show I was located in the gallery pulling in comments from the audience and posting them on Graham’s big wall. It was the first time I had used Chyron to actually control the graphics. In layman’s terms, when Graham needed a new question, it was my finger that pushed the button to make it appear on TV. Funny how a button can shrink to the size of a pinhead when you’re nervous! Still, my finger may have been quivering like a reed in the wind but to everyone out there, it went seamlessly.

How To Win Eurovision

Turns out, there are a LOT of Eurovision performances!At this moment in time, you need a fact or stat about Eurovision then you just ask me and if I can’t recall it from the lists we wrote, then I will dam well know where to find the information at lightening speed.For example, did you know that if you perform a love song, in the UK, and you’re a solo female artist dressed in ‘other colours’ then you’re totally going to win the Song Contest! It’s that scientifically easy!As you’ve probably guessed I was part of the archive team who found clips and came up with great lists of examples. My personal top 5  favourite finds from this production were:

  1. The orchestral saxophone player in the 1991 Greek entry (go to 1.13 in the video below)
  2. Latvia from 2000 with his great dancing left leg with a mind of its own. Then the dancing towards the middle of the song is priceless
  3. Carola’s backing dancers in her 1991 winning song
  4. Watch the backing singer from the 1997 Bosnia and Herz entry. She doesn’t play her saxophone or keyboard throughout the whole song! Now that’s some mind powered skills
  5. And finally, another Saxophone example just because they’re so funny. Here’s a multi-sounding saxophone – you know, those great instruments that start to sound like a guitar after a while. Miming skills to rival Cheryl Cole’s ‘Call My Name’ performance.

So that’s what I have been up to. I’m currently clipping up the moments from Eurovision 2013 so check out those super soon.

Also on the 18th June I shall be presenting at the BECTU Freelance Fair so pop along to that if you can. It’s the ‘Marketing Yourself’ session from 10am. See here for more information.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of my own and not my employer.

Eurovision, EastEnders, Strictly and more!

I think there needs to be some equation set out that explains the disinterest in blogging and tweeting if you do it in your work-life. Something along the lines of…

blogging + work = not blogging at home

There, that can be it! Not sure what all these mathematicians and scientists are singing and dancing about…. equations are actually quite easy.

Anyway, since my last entry so much has changed! Life seems to have a fun way of twisting and turning in such a short space of time and before you know it a year has already passed, you’ve done two months on EastEnders (as blogger Guest Insider) and you are back to working on Strictly Come Dancing.

Gemma presenting at Playback

Me presenting at my playback session

I guess the most recent thing that has happened has been my presentation about integration and how successful it can be to a production. Using Eurovision 2011 as an example, I gave my top 5 tips to getting the most out of Multiplatform and Linear teams working together.

Gemma Hodgson

Me presenting at my Playback session

They were:
1. Be positive– I knows sounds totally cliché but it’s amazing how many ideas get turned down within the first sentence because of the word ‘no’ aka ‘can’t be bothered to investigate’

2. Do your research – I think as well as being part of the Multiplatform team, it’s also your job to educate the linear teams about what is possible regarding audience interaction these days. And to also let them know how cheap it can be these days!

3. Get involved – being a self shooting, self editing ACP means that I can film and edit for the linear teams. It’s a great way to really feel part of a team so if you have and skills, even if they are very basic, get practicing so that next time someone needs something covering you can put your services forward.

Gemma Hodgson

Presenting at my playback session

4. Be flexible – It’s clear that you aren’t going to work office hours anymore, especially when the production really gets going. It’s important to understand and remember this!

5. Finally, learn the lingo – Not only is it your job to educate people about the world of the web but also, to help with team morale and getting involved – see tip 3 ;o) – learn the lingo of the TV production. It really helps you to feel part of something more than ‘just the web’

So they are the top tips I presented. It was a very interesting experience and one that I really enjoyed. It’s really helped me to get focused for upcoming events.

Soon I shall be working on Strictly and I have already set reminders to help me blog each week about my experiences. It’s certainly set to be an interesting autumn!!

The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of my own and not my employer.

Airfront Media Ltd website up and running!

It’s finally arrived! The website for Airfront Media Ltd by the very talented Front-end web developer and designer Paul Michael Smith (not biased at all!).

Airfront Media LtdThe website for the North-West based company has been live for a month already with tips on how to cancel ambient noise when those impossible deadlines seem to be creeping closer, and the reason behind those rainbow clouds on the homepage.

Why not have a look around and see what work Paul has been up to since leaving the BBC in 2008 and becoming a Freelance Front-end Developer and Web Designer from Manchester.

A few things that you should try out include, click on the bird on the homepage (nice Twitter touch), click on the basket ball and try to understand the link to the website (very witty), and finally if you refresh the homepage you can see a collection of different posters appear on the left (nice for a bit of change!).

The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of my own and not my employer.

Staffordshire University visit

Last week I had the privilege to visit my old university, Staffordshire University, for a careers-type talk to those on the Media Production course. They also whisked me away for an interview camera…hmmm I think it’s pretty obvious why I work behind the camera haha. I’m sure I’ll let you know though when it goes live…I know how you’ll want to listen to me witter on!

I spoke to the students about what I have been up to since graduating, using my previous ‘how I got into media‘ blog as inspiration for a lot of what I had to say.

I didn’t realised just how many different jobs and productions I have worked on in the past 5 years! Time certainly flies when you are having fun.

I’d just like to say, good luck to all those in the third year! I hope you all do really well and get to do what you want. For those in the second year, enjoy your final year next year…it’s going to be great!

The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of my own and not my employer.