Karen Gardiner currently works freelance in TV Production; working on drama, film and commercial productions.
Helpline Advisor – Learn Direct Scotland:
Although not my first job, this is probably the most relevant starting point as this job helped me achieve skills that I still use in my career today. While I was studying Digital Film & Television at the RSAMD, this was my part time job. I was in a call centre helping people with funding for higher education. I learned how to engage with people from all walks of life and also how to communicate with people effectively. This job also taught me the true nature of hard work. I was at uni five days a week and worked in the call centre every weekend and in the evenings. There was no such thing as a day off, I remember coming off a long day of shooting and still going to work afterwards for a few hours of answering calls.
Production Assistant- Ever Here I Be – Digicult:
This was my first experience on a short film run by Glasgow based company Digicult, who invest in growing new talent in Scotland through short film schemes. It was a work placement opportunity so I wasn’t being paid. I was assisting the coordinator with prep for the shoot and the day-to-day running of the production office. Although a fantastic experience, I have one memory of being sent to set to work as a floor runner for one of the days and my job was to lock off an area in SWG3. I was in an empty warehouse for hours alone beside a smashed window in the middle of February. I remember standing there with my feet numb from the cold thinking “one day I better get paid for this”. It was worth it though, as later the same year I got the position of Production Manager on the Digicult Film ‘The Rule of Thumb’ directed by the talented Gregor Johnstone.
Tern Digital – Development Researcher:
I was very lucky to get a position at Tern as the Development Researcher on the digital adaptation of the novel ‘The Thirty Nine Steps.’ This was my first job in digital and made me realise just how transferable production skills are. I felt like a detective on this project, I knew the novel inside out. I had to research every single description in the book for images that the digital artists could work from. This ranged from what a London flat looked like in 1914, to what brand of cigars were popular at the time or what the newspaper headlines were just before the First World War. It was such a creative group of people to work with and was a lot of fun to be part of. I still genuinely think that if I was ever a contestant on Mastermind that this novel would definitely be my specialist subject.
STV Creative – Producer:
I was offered an AP job at STV Creative (Commercials department at STV) and was excited about going back into TV production. It was a real learning curve for me as commercials are fast paced and there is little room for error. I worked my way up to Producer during my time there and the role was extremely diverse. Pitching to clients, budgeting, casting, overseeing edits and directing voiceovers were just part of my role. I got to work with some really talented people during my years here and I would say that this is the one job that taught me almost everything I know about TV broadcasting.
Freelancer – Production:
Deciding to go freelance was a decision that looking back, I took without much thought or planning. I had absolutely no savings and no job to go to when I left STV but I just had to trust that it would work out as I wanted to explore other opportunities. I was out of work for around three weeks and it was quite a scary time. Luckily the work started coming in and I haven’t looked back since. I have since worked in various production roles for MTP, STV, Shed Productions and have even been attached to the development of a feature film as producer through the Lo-Fi scheme. I would encourage anyone to consider going freelance in this industry as Scotland really is thriving at the moment; there are so many great opportunities out there.
We’ve asked professionals in creative industries what jobs they have had in the past to get their foot through the door (or at least pay the rent). For more in the “My First 5 Jobs” series look here.