Chris Shepherd works as a director, producer and a writer. His first production company Polkadot’s credits include adverts, title sequences and the award winning Stareout sketches on BBC/Talkback’s Big Train. In 2000 he became the co-founder of Slinky Pictures and has since worked with a wide range of commercial clients including BMI, COI, Nestle, Western Union, Eagle Star and Proctor & Gamble. He also worked together with artist David Shrigley to create award winning short film “Who I Am And What I Want”.

But what did he do before all this? Find out below.

1. Suppose the first job I had where I was paid money was being a busker on the streets of Liverpool. I used to play Bunnymen, Teardrops and even Soft Cell on the acoustic. Youth by the latter sounded really good unplugged. But i guess my choice of music was too much of a niche to rake it in. My other competitors would play the Beatles and I’d be history. Also, I spent a lot if time being attacked by body poppers, religious nuts and small kids. I’d keep going with blue cold hands. Only stopping when i’d snapped all of my strings.

2. My second pitstop on my illustrious career saw me coming up with the notion that I ought to get real job. So I signed up to work at the sickness benefits department at the department of health and social security in a poor part of Liverpool.  I worked in an oppressive red building that looked like a stazi outpost. I worked with Pete Best’s brother, Rouge, he was a drummer too. Mentioning Ringo was a no no at the tea break. Anyways, I’m not allowed to talk about it but rest assured that there was a very eccentric bunch used to sign on. One time somebody thought it was funny to play “Money money” by Abba. By the time the track hit “must be funny – in a rich Man’s world” – all of the claimants were smashing the place up. I’d never seen chairs embedded in concrete ripped out of the floor before.

3. About this time I thought my creative life was over until my old tutor Dave Clapham gave me the chance to work in his Liverpool studio. You can see Dave in Bad Night For The Blues, he plays the lord mayor. I used to cut promos for him for the likes of Deaf School, Icicle Works and The Farm. Working for with Dave was my third job. I made a little animated film called Safari. With that I got into art college.

4. My fourth job was weekend job while I was a student. I worked in Farnham Hospital. I was a cleaner and gave tea to geriatric patients. I’d steal the daffodils from the hospital garden and give them to the old ladies who would burst into tears. Most of the patients thought I was the gas man. I of course would oblige pretending to read their gas meters. I really enjoyed working there. I love talking to people.

5. My fifth job was the one which really connected me with animation. After college I was taken on as a runner at Paul Vester’s Speedy Films. They were the production company that made lots of ads. Milky Way two cars racing, Reach flip top man, Vitalite and Paxo the rooster booster. I became the production manager and worked on a film about New Yorker’s who had been abducted by aliens. I managed to escape the invasion and I’m thankfully still here to tell the story.

Photo by Louise Haywood-Schiefer

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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.