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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Black Women: In the Media Comes to OH TV This September!

Get your TIVO, Sky Plus and other video recorders programmed in advance if you want to catch the latest new Factual Series about Black Women in the World of Work. They come in all shapes and sizes and are packing a powerful punch. Black Women: In the Media investigates the growing power of the Black pound amongst Britain’s Business Women.

Definitely a series not to be missed and starting on Thursday 1st September 2011 at 8pm, on OH TV, Sky Channel 199.

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Present Now! Returns to London in 2011.

Brand New Drama based Presentation skills Courses come to Club @ 44 Great Portland Street, London W1T 1NE. For more details log onto http://www.youpresentnow.com

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YWCA Club Screening!

Great News! The Club at 44 Portland Place, W1 are allowing us to Screen the Documentary Brides and Prejudice next Month. Keep the date, Wednesday 14th April free, in Your Diary if you want to catch up with  all the guests and Crew from the show.

Look forward to seeing you there. See the flyer attached!

Brides and Prejudice Screening

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