Hello and welcome to Trend UK, your shortcut to popular culture from the British Council. In the next few minutes we’re going to be seeing what it’s like to live and work as a young professional in the UK. Creative industries play a key role in the UK’s economic growth. It’s a sector which covers activities such as architecture, publishing, film, fashion, music, radio and TV, and software. And it accounts for almost ten percent of the UK economy. Creative industries often attract young people who feel naturally drawn to them, in the hope that they can make their mark, their fortune or both, whilst expressing themselves in their chosen field. That’s the dream but what are the realities? Our reporter Mark brought together a group of young creative professionals from the film industry to find out.
Assemble a group of young people who work in the UK’s burgeoning creative sector and you won’t be short of opinions. By and large, they’re all under 30, they're all extremely enthusiastic and they’ve all got something to shout about.
"I’m a film and video editor."
"I work in television as a lighting camera woman."
"I’m a freelance cameraman and editor."
So what’s it like working in a creative industry here in the UK?
"It can be fantastic. You know everything has highs and lows I think. But the highs can be particularly high. I’ve worked on a variety of projects, I’ve worked for about two years as an editor so far so… last year I worked on 'Nanny McPhee' which was Emma Thompson’s latest offering and I was an assistant on 'Seed of Chucky' which is part of the famous 'Child's Play' franchise. Which is a good experience, that was a relatively large Hollywood film."
"I do an awful lot of sport, which is, you know, shooting live cycling and things like that. I also shoot the odd commercial and I’ve done some documentary work for television."
"Breaking into the industry is very difficult. And certainly for the first two years that I was trying to break in I had to spend a lot of time working as a carpenter or doing whatever I could, painting and decorating, to get by, whilst you are pursuing contacts, really. But then as you get more and more established, you get more and more contacts and at the same time you get better and better. The work you do is much better. You know, it gets much easier."
And do you have to work long hours?
"Fourteen, fifteen, sixteen hour days, it’s not unusual. There are limits set within the law, but of course everyone does... (you) usually do whatever’s required to get the material in the can."
What about the social side of things? Do you go out much? Do you have time to go out much?
"In terms of meeting people it’s a very mixed bag. I often work on my own, so I’m effectively... I’m directing myself doing camera work and then I’ll go and edit, and I’ll direct myself editing and, you know, I’m completely on my own for days at a time working on a project. On other projects which are much more collaborative, you meet an awful lot of people, and obviously you’ve got a lot in common and with some of them I’ve developed really very good relationships that, you know, I think now you could call friendships. So yeah, socially it can be great."
"You have a great social life with the people that you work with, but organising social life outside of that, if you’re working seventy-two-hour weeks, can be pretty rough. The flip-side of the coin is that if you’re not working at all, you’ve got all the time in the world. But remember that people who work in other industries don’t really understand your stop-start lifestyle. So it can take extra effort to meet up with people."
And where do you hope to be in about, say, ten years?
"Really fast broadband is going to change the way we work. In terms of transferring big amounts of data around and stuff, it’s going to get easier and easier. So, I do think that in 10 years time I’m certain, you know, you’ll want some ‘face time’ as they say for meetings and all that sort of stuff. And physically, for filming some things you’ll have to be there. But very often, it won’t matter where on earth you are in the world, so I am actually planning on buying a place in Portugal or Spain and continue my post-production stuff overseas."
Would you recommend it as a career, or do you have any advice for people who are thinking of taking it up?
"I would definitely encourage people to come to Britain to work in the creative industries; they are some of the best in the world in terms of content, ideas, execution. The creatives and the technicians in this country are fantastic. My one tip would be: make sure that you’ve got that endurance, that capacity, that capacity to endure, because you’re going to be faced with long hours, some difficult people and occasions where you’re paid very little, if anything at all. So make sure that you’re determined and focused on working in these industries. You can’t be a tourist, so to speak."
"Britain is a fantastic place to work in the creative industries because there is a very huge buzz, very high training and people are really passionate about what they do. But it’s also extremely competitive and the number of places for people to work in is a lot smaller than the number of people trying to get work. So you have to be very tenacious, you have to really, really want to do it. It is not glamorous, it’s long hard hours and you have to be pretty thick skinned. So give it a try and if you care about it, do it. But if not, you can make a lot more money a lot more easily doing something else."
"Yes, I would recommend it as a career. It’s enormously enjoyable, much more creative than most people’s jobs are, much more varied than most people’s jobs are. Financially, I hate to say it, but I’m now doing really quite well. In terms of the advice I’d give to someone, don’t give up because there’ll be endless barriers in your way where people, you know, you get all these false horizons where you think you’re about to get a big break and then, you know, it just turns into nothing and never never make any mistakes… that’s the most important thing of all because you only get one chance. If it’s your first job with someone and you stuff it up, well that’s it, the phone’s not going to ring again. So, you know, be careful - don’t make any mistakes!"
Well, as a young professional in a creative industry myself, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. And you do get to meet the nicest people.
Our young creative professional reporter Mark, there. And that’s it for this time. Please remember that the opinions expressed in Trend UK are those of the individuals concerned, and not necessarily the views of the British Council. Don’t forget, you can find out what the British Council is doing in the field of creative industries by checking our website www.britishcouncil.org. Just follow the links under ‘Arts’. And while you’re on the website you can also update your English by checking out the words and phrases in the Trend UK online glossary. And tell us what you think by sending us a comment or voting in the online poll. But for now, from me and all the Trend UK Team, bye bye.