Image by Tom Soyyo – ‘Spot On and Action’ [with kind permission]
Tracking the experiences of entry level workers in the film and TV industries.
I followed the progress and employment experiences of brand new workers and those looking for their first work in the film and TV industries in the UK over a two year period, which concluded in mid-2020. The project confidentially tracked the kind of work which the 91 participants were getting during this two year period via eight-monthly questionnaires. The research is designed to support clearer understanding of entry-level work conditions, to explore how it feels to start a career in this sector, and to examine what skills and attributes are the most useful to navigate these early years. It also specifically explores the prevalence of potentially illegal unpaid work. The findings are currently being analysed, and will be shared with employers and industry policy makers, to make access to the industry fairer for all, and to help educators prepare future students for these early career years.
Gendered reasons for leaving a career in the UK TV industry
During 2018 I ran a research project exploring the career experiences of 80 people who had left the TV industry. The intention was to understand why they left the industry, and what they went on to do; but also to explore how people felt about their work experiences, and the changes they have made either voluntarily or reluctantly. The goal was to better understand what kinds of employment conditions are common in the industry, especially in relation to overall precarity or sustainability of careers; whether any of these are a cause for concern, in terms of worker wellbeing, impact on diversity or representation in the industry, or on TV audiences; and whether any policy recommendations can or should be made to government or industry policy makers in the light of the findings.
The project had highly gendered findings, showing earlier career exit for women, and for different reasons. While quantitative data demonstrated that incompatibility with parenting was the overwhelmingly dominant factor motivating early exit from the sector for women, the qualitative findings also advanced discussions of wider structural barriers and gendered inequalities, embedded in working cultures, practices and attitudes. The resulting analysis explored the wider perception of a lack of care for the sector’s workers, as well as the individual bereavement and loss of identity for those who leave.
Percival, N. (2020). Gendered reasons for leaving a career in the UK TV industry. Media, Culture & Society, 42(3), 414-430. doi:10.1177/0163443719890533