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Case Study: Vicky Clark

Personal details
Degree:MA Modern History and MLitt Film Studies Profile picture
School(s): School of History, School of Philosophy, Anthropology & Film Studies
Year of Graduation:Nov-2013
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: IMG/European Tour Productions
Job title: Assistant Producer
Occupational Sector: Media / Television
What has been your route to getting your current position?
It all started when a fellow student founded BubbleTV in my third year and I went along to their first meeting more out of curiosity than anything. I ended up becoming Head of Editing in the society's first year. As a part of the BubbleTV team that filmed the Royal Visit in 2011, I was able to capture about 10 minutes of footage of Will and Kate meeting the St Andrews public, which we in turn sold to ITN and part of that footage was shown on the ITV 6pm national news that day. That led to a 2 day work experience placement with an ITN live OB (Outside Broadcast) team in St Andrews during the Royal Wedding celebrations. I became Controller of BubbleTV in my final undergrad year and my next work experience placement came when I applied to work as an assistant to the Media team at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. This was more of a press/journalism role but one of the European Tour journalists I worked for knew a couple of the TV personnel, and this connection proved to be very important later on. I chose to stay on in St Andrews to do a postgraduate degree, and the summer before returning to St Andrews for my fifth year I emailed the journalist from the media placement and he put me in touch with European Tour Productions (ETP) who fortunately needed a runner for the Alfred Dunhill Links Champ that year. This led to my name becoming known to the company and I was offered another runner placement at the Scottish Seniors Open in the summer. Finally, three weeks before I was due to give in my dissertation an Assistant Producer (AP) job with ETP was advertised. I applied and was interviewed for the job within a week and a week later I was offered the job. Apparently the fact that I had worked with the team before as a runner was a big reason why they chose me for the job.
What does your job involve ?
I'm an AP on the Live team which means that we follow the European Tour around the world producing the Live pictures for what we call a World Feed which is taken by broadcasters like Sky Sports and the Golf Channel. The broadcasters will either take our feed with our commentary as it is or will add their own content and commentary to it. About 40 broadcasters worldwide take our feed, so a lot of people end up seeing your work! The job is very hands-on and you can only really train for it on the job so you progress from role to role until you reach the top, ending up as a Producer/Director. In ETP, you start off as a Stats AP researching the players and the events to produce graphics which you then use in the Live broadcast. I've just recently moved up a role so I now do a mix of Stats and TTV (Tournament Television). As a TTV AP you produce what goes out on the big screens placed around the golf course and you get to do a lot of filming and editing and therefore have a bit more freedom to be creative. The next role on the horizon is PA (Production Assistant) and from there I'll begin to learn highly technical roles that will be transferable across many Live OB's in different events and sports.
What are the best bits of your job ?
We travel a lot for the job and we can be away for up to 30 weeks of the year. Whilst this can be very tiring it's also gives me a wonderful opportunity to see the world. From May to October we are largely based in Europe and from November to April we travel a bit further afield to the 'long haul' destinations like the Middle East, South Africa and Asia. I've been with the company nearly 9 months and have so far been to the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, Dubai, South Africa, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Morocco, Malaysia, China and Spain. It's not as glamorous as it sounds as you spend a lot of time on flights (we take about 50 to 60 flights a year) and we are there to work and not go sightseeing, but on the long haul events we usually have a day to go and see the sights before we start work for the week. I love travelling round Europe especially though and love learning languages, so this job gives me the opportunity to learn and practice them regularly!
Why were you successful?
My work experience definitely helped. More than anything it allowed me to make contacts and gave me a varied, interesting CV. We're fortunate in St Andrews to have Royal connections and a large golf tournament every year, it's not something you'd get at every University! However, TV and the Media is really all about who you know and getting your foot in the door is probably the hardest thing, once you have made those first few contacts it becomes a little easier from there. I got my first break quite by chance and one thing led to another from there, each work experience placement helping me on to the next stage. I also gained a lot from being a member of the Ladies Golf Club Committee and BubbleTV Committee and I know that my experiences with them are largely what got me the job I have today.
What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
As a Stats AP you have to search through and analyse a lot of data to see patterns and trends, and I think the analytical thinking that you are taught to apply during a History degree has very much helped me in that role. As a TTV AP we film and edit a lot of our own footage, and my Film Studies degree, even though it wasn't practical, taught me the principles of film and the art of editing and a lot of the concepts that I put into practice today I studied during my postgraduate year. Finally, I think I gained a lot of confidence during my time at University. I turned up at St Andrews in 2008 a very shy person and through my academic classes and extra-curricular activities gained much more confidence in myself and my abilities.
What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?
It's important to try and make the contacts you'll need to get your foot in the door. Look out for opportunities to get involved with filming and editing, as well as work experience placements. There are a number of short courses you can take to learn more about TV and Film, but the best, easiest and cheapest way would be to teach yourself through getting involved with BubbleTV, STAR or the film-making society. The best way to learn is 'on the job' so get yourself a camera and teach yourself the basics of editing. Practice often and maybe even start a blog showcasing your videos, which in turn will allow you to get a showreel together. I learnt pretty much all of my camera and editing skills through either my time in BubbleTV or through online tutorials. Finally, when you do make those elusive first contacts don't be scared to e-mail them and get in touch. We've all been in that difficult position trying to get our first break in the media and now I'm on the other side I can say that we have a lot of sympathy for people just starting out and would try and help as much as possible! At the very least we can offer advice and point out various websites that advertise entry-level placements and jobs to help you see what is available out there at the moment.