Brides and Prejudice: A Royal Wedding and How to Get Your TV Show to the Screen

Brides and Prejudice, A Royal Wedding and Get Your Show Idea to the Screen

Talk is all over the media of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Spring Wedding and this young Royal Couple can certainly expect a lot of attention in the up and coming months.

All this current wedding fever takes me back to the Spring of 2011 when as a Producer at Sky Channel 199 I wrote Produced and Directed the TV Series “Why Should I Get Married?

Timed to coincide with the Wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton we explored the drop in the marriage statistics discovered that year, visited The National Wedding Show at Earls Court and interviewed couples from all over the country about the pros and cons of married life.

Candy Anthony

Back in 2011 the marriage statistics were severely depressed but the Wedding Industry seemed to be thriving. Designers Candy Antony were displaying their 1950s Wedding dresses on the day and they took time out to help us and discuss with us how they met and fell in love whilst working at Hyper Hyper in Kensington High Street.

The Idea

Back when I had the idea for the documentary I was not entirely convinced I would get the show commissioned.  I had decided in 2010 when I had the idea for writing and Producing the show, to bring a broadcast Digital Camera EX3 to the Wedding Show and (together with my cameraman) film several fashions shows and randomly interview guests and Exhibitors as potential Contributors.

The hall was packed and you would have no idea that there was any dip in marriage interest judging by the speed at which money was exchanging hands. These sample interviews and Catwalk fashion show were the basis of my pitch to the Channel and I am still surprised at how many of the original characters and interviews we managed to keep for the broadcast transmissions.

“As with any TV project, research plays a valuable part.”

Once the show was commissioned we then went back and researched more contributors to provide the balance and counter story about the rising divorce rates.

As with any TV project, research plays a valuable part. When pitching to any channel be prepared to allow time to research much more than you actually need. This part of the legwork is often unpaid “pre-production” and you need to be prepared to do it to show your commitment, especially if you are from outside of the channel or production company.

Vanessa Lloyd-Platt

With “Why Should I Get Married?” once we were given the go ahead we spent months researching contributors before we fell upon GMTV’s Vanessa Lloyd Platt who was an excellent find.   Vanessa had some great Divorce stories to tell, including her own unfortunate split from her husband. This side of the show proved a vital component in telling the full story of Marriage in the UK.

The Creative Concept

The other thing that proved an essential part of the documentary was the visual concept.  The show’s titles graphics and artwork were fun, cheeky and inspired by the 1980s sitcom Soap and it’s the one thing that people always approach me to talk about.

Soap was a sitcom about two sisters from two families the Tates and the Campbells and the TV hit had titles featuring the two families fighting acrimoniously before cheesily posing for their posed family photograph.  The still photos hid the friction and rivalry that ran through the two sister’s family.

My promo –in a similar fashion – showed three couples posing for their glossy family wedding photos – all with captions highlighting their inner concerns about taking the plunge.

Why Should I Get Married? from Michelle Brooks on Vimeo.

The Music

The show’s theme music, “I Want You to Love Me” was a track I chose from AudioNetworks and this theme was so catchy people were sure it had been specially written for the show.

The Edit

Offline edited by myself I was really lucky to get the Award Winning Editor Andrew Webber to online this show and one tip I would always share is a great Editor is worth his weight in gold. Andrew with his impeccable creativity, impossibly high standards and loads of patience for our long days and my (sometimes dodgy camera work) meant I was really relieved and happy when we finally got to the finished product.

 

Brides and Prejudice: Why Should I Get Married? Ep1 Pt1 from Michelle Brooks on Vimeo.

The Audience Response

The show was transmitted on the Friday 29th April 2011, the day  of Prince William and the then  Catherine Middleton’s Wedding and it was so popular that the Channel COO requested we repeat it again the following week.

Til this day I maintain the success of the show really was down to the subject of weddings – which is always extremely popular, the authenticity and diversity of the talent and contributors as well as the way we treated the subject matter: with humour and honesty.

Relevance & Authenticity

Relevance and authenticity are something I believe always resonates with people and something I always recommend when you are thinking of a subject matter for a TV Show.

As a perennially Single lady, Why Should I Get Married? was an important subject for me to investigate and so I was unafraid to publically challenge the norms surrounding marriage and as a result, despite its low budget in broadcast terms, it has always been one of my proudest TV moments.

In terms of relevance today’s marriage statistics tell a similar story to 2011……  and yet again we see the same thing with TV, Radio and mainstream press all going into overdrive and as the news hits that the Wedding is scheduled for Windsor Castle in May.

So whilst we are due to spend many months poring over every single detail of the Royal couples lives and plans for their big day let’s hope we don’t lose our respect for the sanctity of marriage and our realism that such a wonderful and special union for some people is not always right for everyone.

Michelle Brooks is a TV Producer  and Director with Twenty years experience in TV and Content Creation. With articles published in The Voice, Pride Magazine and BECTU Magazine Michelle has been interviewed on the BBC Radio and is also the Founder and Director of Showpatrol.TV in West London

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Muhammad Ali, The Greatest Farewell

He was The Greatest in life, and so he is in death.
As a testament to that incredible life, Muhammad Ali’s widow and two ex-wives pay their respects to legendary boxer alongside thousands of mourners at a traditional Islamic prayer service in Kentucky on Thursday 9th June 2016.

The family of boxing legend Muhammad Ali joined thousands of mourners for the traditional Muslim prayer service at Kentucky’s Freedom Hall on Thursday to celebrate the sporting legend’s extraordinary life.

Laila Ali mourns

More than 14,000 thousand mourners attended the traditional Muslim Jenazah service which last a little over an hour for the three-time world champion boxer who died Friday at age 74.

His widow and fourth wife, Lonnie, daughters, Laila and Hana, and granddaughter Sydney, were photographed inside looking sombre at the service, which marks the start of two days of ceremonies honoring the Muslim-convert sports star who died following an epic 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease.
In addition, Ali’s second wife, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, and his third wife, Veronica Porche-Ali, were in attendance. His first wife, Sonji Roi, passed away in 2005.

Muslims travelled from all over the world to stand pay their final respects, in a Kentucky arena which would have made him proud.

In addition his funeral service will be held today on Friday 10th June 9am ET and will be a Muslim service which will connect people from all faiths. Ever aware of his condition he had spent years preparing the service by writing in something he called “The Book” and so the service will literally be his own last message to the world.

At 2pm ET there will be a memorial which can be viewed live on the page cbsnews.com/live

A truly sad day. We will never see his like again.
R.I.P. Brother Muhammad.

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Muhammad Ali Dies at 74

Muhammad-Ali-boxer

The Legendary Boxer Muhammad Ali died on Friday, 3rd June 2016 after an epic 32 year battle with Parkinsons disease.

As a child I watched his sporting fights (and political ones) through the one TV in our tiny living room, and was struck by how Ali brought people together. Whether you loved sport, politics or entertainment he was quite simply a knockout.

An inspiration to people of every class, race and creed. His spirit will live on and on.
He transcended his sport to become a leader of men.

R.I.P. Muhammad Ali

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4th Annual U.S Immigration Day

Black_CelebsinHollywood
Many of us will have no doubt read articles about the rise of the Black British Actor in America as well as other Creative Talent like our best directors, producers and screenwriters. So have you ever thought about seeking out those opportunities and carving out your career stateside?

If so then get make sure you attend the 4th Annual Immigration day this
Friday 26th June 2015 at 10am at 25 Sackville Street, Mayfair W1.

Here U.S. Immigration Lawyer Joe Adams of Joe Adams Esq tells you all you need to know to get started, and what to avoid if you are already on your way.

Joe recently featured in the BECTU (Broadcast Entertainment and Cinematograph Trade Union) Freelancer’s Fair as part of Michelle Brooks’ Diamond Visas –Working Overseas Seminar and proved massively popular. If you have been thinking about making the break, make sure you get your facts about Visas and paperwork from the man himself!

To book click here

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Black Women: In the Media – Father’s Day Special

With Father’s day now upon us I thought it would be a great time to share this lovely Father’s Day special in commemoration of all the Father’s out there working tirelessly to support their families, young and old.

For those of you who were not aware, I managed to reconcile with my own Father this year so this is now especially poignant.

Watch and enjoy!

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Michelle Brooks to Chair Industry Debate on Working Overseas

Producer/Director and ShowPatrol MD Michelle Brooks will Chair the Debate Diamond Visas, on Overseas working with leading US Immigration Lawyer Joe Adams flying in especially from LA to take part, ahead of his Annual UK Immigration Day on the 26th June.

Michelle Brooks

Michelle Brooks

For those looking to work in the US, Michelle will discuss the subject with TV and Film Director Alex Kalymnios and actor and writer Sherill Turner, who also share their moves across the pond. The seminar will also feature a clip from Angela M. Hutchinson of not for Profit organisation “Breaking into Hollywood” and include handy tips and hints.

BECTU’s annual event for freelancers in film and TV on today (Friday 29 May at Ravensbourne) boasts a great line-up this year. Visitors will be treated to nine group sessions, as well as the fair exhibition and technical area and opportunities for one-to-one advice on tax and careers.

Other practical advice will be delivered too in sessions dealing with everything from HD Cameras to Funding your own Programmes and Features.

“There’s no doubt the team in our Writers, Producers and Directors’ branch, with the generous support of so many industry figures, has lined up a great day with plenty of opportunities to discuss industry challenges and to secure the kind of advice which can only help to move careers forward. All visitors have to do is to choose which sessions to take part in.

“It’s also the Fair’s 10th birthday so we’ll be celebrating too,” said Mike Dick chair of BECTU’s Writers Producers Directors branch.

The event is part-funded by BECTU, the media and entertainment union, with assistance from sponsors, Blue Skies Partnership, Creative Skillset, Hencilla Canworth, ProductionBase and Thompsons Solicitors. BECTU members attend for free; non-members pay just £13.25 (which includes lunch where tickets are booked in advance).

ENDS

For more information contact Sharon Elliott, communications officer on 0207 346 0900 or email selliott@bectu.org.uk

Note for editors:

1. Full programme information and booking link are set out here. Link.
2. Check the exhibitor line-up which includes Media Parents, whose team will be providing a Back to Work Surgery, and Blue Skies Partnership whose team will be offering one-to-one advice sessions (one-to-one appointments for both bookable on the day). Link.
3. Follow BECTU on Twitter @BECTU. The hashtag for the event is #freelancersfair
4. BECTU is on Facebook.
5. Michelle Brooks is on Facebook and LinkedIN.
6. Follow Michelle Brooks on Twitter @MichBrooksTV.

Disclaimer: If you do not wish to receive further news/releases from BECTU, please click the following link: [Remove Me]. Requests will take a maximum of 2 business days to process.

Contact information: Nancy Smallwood, BECTU, 373-377 Clapham Road, London, SW9 9BT
_________________________

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Leading Industry Figures Join BECTU’s Freelancers Fair 2015

Thursday 19th May 2015

BECTU’s annual event for freelancers in film and TV (Friday 29 May at Ravensbourne) boasts a great line-up this year. Visitors will be treated to nine group sessions, as well as the fair exhibition and technical area and opportunities for one-to-one advice on tax and careers.

We’ve certainly met the need for topicality with the inclusion of What future now for the BBC? where we’ll be joined by Danny Cohen, the BBC’s director of television, and Gerry Morrissey, BECTU’s general secretary; the session will be chaired by Chris Curtis, editor of industry weekly, Broadcast.

Also under the microscope will be the industry’s reputation for elitism with a session dubbed The Class Ceiling which will examine class bias both on screen and behind the scenes. Filmmaker Ken Loach, screenwriter Jimmy McGovern, TV Collective founder Simone Pennant, and the BBC’s social media executive Cheryl Varley will join the discussion.

Practical advice will be delivered too in sessions dealing with marketing your project (Marketing Your Project: The Programme Makers’ View), choosing the right camera for the job (Close Up on Cameras) and how to treat crew well even on a low budget (Low Budget, High Ethics).

Accountancy Question Time provides a welcome opportunity for visitors to ask those essential questions about tax and to secure guidance on which business option is best suited to the individual.

In the afternoon, the BBC Academy will be offering insights into digital storytelling (Digital Storytelling with the BBC Academy) and Pitch Perfect: Meet the Commissioners will deliver the inside track on what commissioners from ITV (Peter Davey), Discovery (Rob Holloway), BBC (Jane Merkin), and Channel 4 (Tom Porter) are looking for. And last but not least, for those looking to work in the US, we’ll be joined by Joe Adams, US immigration lawyer, and actor and writer Sherill Turner, to discuss that move across the pond in Diamond Visas.

“There’s no doubt the team in our Writers, Producers and Directors’ branch, with the generous support of so many industry figures, has lined up a great day with plenty of opportunities to discuss industry challenges and to secure the kind of advice which can only help to move careers forward. All visitors have to do is to choose which sessions to take part in.

“It’s also the Fair’s 10th birthday so we’ll be celebrating too,” said Mike Dick chair of BECTU’s Writers Producers Directors branch.

The event is part-funded by BECTU, the media and entertainment union, with assistance from sponsors, Blue Skies Partnership, Creative Skillset, Hencilla Canworth, ProductionBase and Thompsons Solicitors. BECTU members attend for free; non-members pay just £13.25 (which includes lunch where tickets are booked in advance).

ENDS

For more information contact Sharon Elliott, communications officer on 0207 346 0900 or email selliott@bectu.org.uk

Note for editors:

1. Full programme information and booking link are set out here. Link.
2. Check the exhibitor line-up which includes Media Parents, whose team will be providing a Back to Work Surgery, and Blue Skies Partnership whose team will be offering one-to-one advice sessions (one-to-one appointments for both bookable on the day). Link.
3. Follow BECTU on Twitter @BECTU. The hashtag for the event is #freelancersfair
4. BECTU is on Facebook.

Disclaimer: If you do not wish to receive further news/releases from BECTU, please click the following link: [Remove Me]. Requests will take a maximum of 2 business days to process.

Contact information: Nancy Smallwood, BECTU, 373-377 Clapham Road, London, SW9 9BT
_________________________

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From Here to Diversity: The Freelancer’s Tale, Freelancer’s Fair 2014

(The original Speech from the Freelancer’s Fair Diversity Debate, June 2014 at Ravensbourne College)

We sat in her office. The Union official and the unemployed Creatives.

We’re not allowed to be called that though – we’re ‘Freelance’ – and with our training, experience and “eclectic” CV’s we were struggling to find work.

Opposites though we seemed, all three of us were bonded by one common cause – The Fight Against Inequality In the UK’s Entertainment Industry.

As Janice revealed the stats, I sat there wondering “How on earth I could have been so naïve?” All the while I had been editing in air-conditioned Quantel suites at Red Bee Media or Shooting my TV Series on Black Women in the Media, I had been slumbering. Protected from the evolution happening all around me.

The media landscape had been changing. The BBC had moved a third of its productions out of London and into the regions (opening up a world of opportunity for those in Wales, Scotland and the North West) and many other Broadcasters had followed suit. No more could I be complacent. Whereas before things had been tough, now was another thing altogether. Before, I had been in the enviable position of having the Music, Entertainment, Sport, Drama and Film Industry on my doorstep in London, the Media Hub of the UK, but now I would have to rethink my career strategies.

As Janice Turner, BECTU’s diversity officer, spelt it out, the facts made shocking listening. In 2006 7.4% of the film and broadcasting workforce was BAME. By 2012 this had dropped to just 5.4%. In the last three years, between 2009 and 2012 the overall industry workforce increased by 4,000 and the number of women in the industry increased significantly – but over the same period 2,000 BAME professionals left the industry.

Between 2004 and 2006 the number of BAME workers in the UK television industry increased by 81% – but in the six years between 2006 and 2012, there was a 31% decline.

In film the figures were even worse. Between 2009 and 2012 BAME representation halved in both film production and film distribution. In film production, in 2009, 12% of the workforce was BAME compared with 5.3% last year and in distribution it fell from 8.3% to 3.4%.

Nearly half of London’s population is BAME and 80% of the film production workforce is based in central London, as is 68% of the film distribution workforce, so BAME employment levels of 5.3% and 3.4% are shocking.

OFCOM refused to release the 2013 Figures because they were ‘Protecting their Licensees’. So who was going to ‘protect’ the BAME Talent in front of and behind the camera? With 40 per cent of London’s population being BAME, and talented, it was left for us to bear the brunt of all the changes afoot and many of us had no idea what a mighty blow we were going to have to take.

When I worked on Black Women in the Media the common theme amongst the women we featured, (household names like BBC Broadcaster Brenda Emmanus, ITV Anchor Charlene White and UK Children’s Author and Laureate Malorie Blackman MBE) was that they were all brought up to believe they had to work three times as hard as their White Counterparts to get ahead.

New Talent now should not have to go through this. We should be judged on a level playing field and if they are not they will simply find their own avenues to show their Creativity. BAME audiences already watch 5 hours less TV and if that trend continues and they do as has been suggested by groups such as The TV Collective and boycott the license fee, it won’t just be the BBC that has a problem. Channel 4 and other broadcasters will all feel it and the TV landscape will be the poorer for it.

Before the British Film Institute was given responsibility for lottery funding for film, this job was originally done by the UK Film Council. Neither the UK Film Council nor, to date, the BFI, ever bothered to require those companies – who are getting millions of public money – to even carry out equality monitoring of their crews and performers, let alone show anyone the figures. Ofcom did require the companies it awarded licences to, to carry out equality monitoring and send the results to the regulator, but in 2005 OFCOM decided that they weren’t going to either enforce this licence condition nor publish the licence holders’ equality monitoring data.

So with OFCOM withholding their statistics and production companies commissioned but not required to submit monitoring to reflect their BAME staff it was clear we had a problem. With Broadcasters like the BBC monitoring their permanent staff, but not their Freelancers, there was even more invisibility and lack of accountability because we could not see how many other staff were being used and not reflected. I started to wonder if the UK Media, with all its liberal and PC protestations really was the Western World’s next Civil Rights crisis.

The only Black people doing well in TV seemed to have either been to America to reboot their careers, be working in BAME Television which is funded by Black churches or are on the Capital’s newest ‘Hoodie on the block’, London Live, where they are at least able to have their ideas seen and make a name for themselves.

The stats look bad and the situation is a downward spiral for BAME who’s CV’s are continually passed over for their White Counterparts whose careers have not stalled, managed to gain “mainstream” experience and who do not suffer from the dreaded ‘eclectic‘ CV. Diversity and Flexibility are key to surviving in the fast-paced world of TV, so why is this the very thing that Commissioners and Talent Managers seem not to like?

Back in the Eighties and nineties I grew up with shows like The Real McCoy and Desmonds and my first break, as a researcher, was on the A Force, made by BBC Youth and Entertainment. This late night strand featured new talent from the world of Black Entertainment, Drama and News with highlights such as Blouse and Skirt, and Brothers and Sisters which went on to be scheduled in its own slot. This Black strand propelled the careers of entertainers like Curtis Walker, Robbie Gee, Eddie Nestor, Richard Blackwood, Marcus Powell, Sandra Bee and countless others, into the public arena and made sure that we, as a culture, were at least seen on TV. Yes, it was ill-supported, had the tiniest budgets and was in a graveyard slot of 11pm-1am on Friday nights; but at least it was there. Black Producers and Execs like Marilyn Comrie and Dele Oniye were able to give hungry upstarts like myself a chance.

Fast forward nearly twenty years and I returned to Salford, working for Children in Need, last November. This time, I was shocked to be in the same company, the BBC, but see the startling lack of Black faces. At the Annual North West Leaders Group, a group of the top executives from all over England and the North West, I was the only Black speaker let alone Black female to address the crowd and update on my activities for the National Charity. As a freelancer, I was on a short term contract. Five weeks to be exact. I spoke on the Thursday and by Friday I was gone! Was my speaking a token gesture? I hoped not. Many lamented the fact that my time there was so short and they seemed impressed that I was able to speak and present so effectively, but they should not have been surprised. I had had to work harder, be faster, get stronger.

So what is to be done? Yes, some people have mentioned Quotas and, yes, some have mentioned the ‘Rooney Rule’ and Lenny Henry mentioned ‘Ring-fencing Funds’ but will that make lasting change? Today we speak to some key decision makers about what they think the issues are about recruiting BAME professionals and what will make a difference and then we’ll discuss what their plans are for the future, to ensure we have real change for BAME in Television and Film. We are also going to hear how BECTU, our union, is responding and taking a new lead.

So what about twenty years from now?   Will there be a new breed of Freelancer in the industry? They will be taking control for themselves; content will be produced for the masses online and it’s up to TV and Film if they want to be left behind.

Performed Friday 6th June 2014 at the BECTU Freelancer’s Fair, Ravensbourne.

Michelle Brooks is the Founder and MD of ShowPatrol Productions which offers Cultural Consultancy and fully Diverse Programming solutions. Michelle is also the Series Producer of OHTV’s “Black Women in the Media”, a Diversity Advocate, a Member of BECTU’s Writers Producers Directors Branch and Black Workers Group.

NB: All views expressed here are entirely my own and neither the Union nor any other affiliation bears any responsibility  for the ideas expressed.

 

 

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Michelle Brooks Spars with Love Doctor, on TV Talk Show.

Culture Vultures Love Specials Group Shot.

OH TV’s Michelle Brooks and  Colourful Radio’s relationship Coach locked horns on the relevance of Valentine’s day and the importance of marriage in today’s episode of “Culture Vultures” on OH, TV Sky Channel 199. Montserrat born Hilton was shocked when Michelle rebuffed women who proposed to men, during a leap year saying, “Men turn down women who propose so they can actually do it. Why deny them the pleasure?”

Whilst interviewer Rosemary Laryea looked on shocked Michelle continued, “People should do something special for their loved ones every day not just wait for this one signal.”

Whilst the group agreed that romance was important Michelle believed that marriage was “not for everyone,” despite Hilton’s insistance that the statistics showed being married improved and encouraged longer life.

See what do you think about this season of love? Is it just a money making scam? Find out, tonight at 7pm on OH, Tv Sky Channel 199.

 

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Why Should I Get Married? Repeats on OH TV

To Marry or Not to Marry?

Throughout the Month of February the cult documentaries Brides and Prejudice, “Why are there so many Single Black Women in the UK?” And, “Why Should I Get Married?” are due to repeat on Sky Channel 199.

If you want to see Dating Coach Des O’Connor, Flirtologist Jean Smith and Author Patrick Augustus in action and airing their views about the state of Black Love make sure you tune in. With cheeky commentary by Michelle Brooks this dating double is not to be missed.

In addition catch Michelle Brooks as she is joined by the Caribbean Love Doctor Hilton Samuel on the new Arts and Culture Magazine “Culture Vultures” presented by Colourful Radio’s Rosemary Laryea.

This Valentine’s OH TV is really feeling the love.

 

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