The MIPMC Research Group at Northumbria University provides a hub for staff and postgraduate researchers who are engaged with the analysis of the moving image and popular media in all its forms, from theoretical, historical, practice-based, industrial and empirical/sociological perspectives
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Neil Percival | Deputy Director of Cultural Partnerships

Reseach Interests
My research has continued my interest in employment practices, precarious labour, sustainability of careers, diversity and workforce mobilisation in the film/TV industries. I’ve carried out a large research project surveying attitudes to unpaid work, and recently another project interviewing professionals about their reasons for leaving the TV industry. I’ve also recently co-written a journal article about the factors that trigger mobilisation to activism and resistance in the creative industries, with David Lee at Leeds University. My PhD, a longitudinal study tracking progress of 150 new entrants to the media sector over a two-year period, contributes to the same field.

Ph.D. – ‘The exploitation of “creative labour”: a study of employment conditions for entry-level workers in the film and TV industries, and educational strategies to prepare them for career launch in this environment’. (Awarded July 2021)

I spent 15 years in the UK TV industry from 1992-2007, mainly as a freelance producer/director. I worked for a mixture of small indies and major broadcasters shooting, directing and producing factual one-offs and observational series. I also ran an online community for over 9,000 TV freelancers, gathering information about freelance working experiences and raising awareness of illegal employment practice. The community changed industry practice in relation to unpaid work experience through the impact of the 2005 ‘TV Wrap’ campaign.
At Northumbria I teach professional practice modules on BA Hons Film and TV Production, and I have a managerial role as the University’s Deputy Director of Cultural Partnerships.

Publications and Research Outputs
Journal Articles

Percival, N., & Lee, D. (2022). Get Up, Stand Up? Theorizing Mobilization in Creative Work. Television and New Media, 23(2), 202-218. https://doi.org/10.1177/1527476420969909

Percival, N. (2020). Gendered reasons for leaving a career in the UK TV industry. Media, Culture and Society, 42(3), 414-430. https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443719890533

  • This work underpinned submission by the Northern Indie Club to OFCOM’s review of the ‘Out of Londondefinition of TV commissioning in the UK; and is currently shaping a paper written by the UK Film & TV Charity in regard to attrition of older workers.

Percival, N., & Hesmondhalgh, D. (2014). Unpaid work in the UK television and film industries: Resistance and changing attitudes. European Journal of Communication, 29(2), 188-203. https://doi.org/10.1177/0267323113516726

  • Survey findings also received media industry press attention, and provided evidence for BECTU’s submission to the Low Pay Commission, impacting on policy.

Recent Conferences & Talks
• Invited paper at Westminster Insight symposium on gender inequality in the media: ‘Gendered reasons for leaving the UK TV industry’. London, April 2019
• Invited seminar presentation: TFTV Research Seminar, York University. ‘Get Up, Stand Up? Theorising Mobilisation in Creative Work’. (Collaboration with David Lee, Leeds University). November 2018
• ‘Why do workers leave the UK television industry? Insights into the sustainability of creative working lives, from interviews with those who have left the sector’. In: ECREA European Communication Conference, November 2018, Lugano (Switzerland).
• Conference panel chair and organiser: panel entitled ‘Breaking barriers: transitional stages in women’s careers in the UK film and TV industries’, CAMEo conference Sept 2018, ‘Care in the Media and Cultural Industries’ (Research Institute for Cultural and Media Economies), Leicester University. Panel also included my conference paper: ‘Experiences of women leaving the TV industry’
• ‘Film and TV workers – unpaid work and collective mobilisation; insight from survey data into experiences, attitudes and resistance to unpaid work’. In: CAMEo conference 2017 ‘Mediating Cultural Work’, (Research Institute for Cultural and Media Economies), Leicester University
• ‘Embedding organisational standards in 2016-17’. In: Northumbria TQEF Conference, 30th November 2016, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne.
• ‘Entry level workers’ disconnection from the collective memory of TV and film professionals in the UK: insight from survey data into experiences, attitudes and resistance to unpaid work’. In: ECREA European Communication Conference, 9-12 November 2016, Prague (Czech Republic).
• ‘Profession, passion, or play? Attitudes to unpaid work in the film and TV industries’. In: Work and Play: An Interdisciplinary Conference, 6th July 2016, Manchester, UK.
• ‘Scholarship, or just social media? Creating an online community to support student engagement and development through group work’. Paper at the Northumbria Research Conference
• ‘Scholarship, or just social media? Creating an online community to support student engagement and development through group work’. Poster presentation at Three Rivers Conference, Sunderland University, March 2015
• ‘Ethical responses to unpaid work in film and TV; survey findings’. Paper at the Northumbria Conference, May 2014
• ‘How do TV & Film workers feel about unpaid work?’ Invited paper at ‘What can be done to improve the quality of working life in the media and cultural industries?’, conference organised by University of Leeds/Open University, London, February 2013
• ‘TV & Film Industry: Employment practices and attitudes’. Invited paper at Creative Industries Forum, Northumbria University, January 2012
• ‘TV versus low-budget film: same laws, different ethics’. Paper at conference ‘Moral Economies of Creative Labour’, Institute of Communications Studies, University of Leeds, July 2011
• ‘A Case Study in Freelance Campaigning’. Paper at the Northumbria Conference, May 2011
• ‘A Case Study in Freelance Campaigning’. Paper at ‘The Future of Cultural Work’, Annual conference of the Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC), June 2010, London
• ‘Using video in teaching and assessment’. Paper at North East Academic Developers Regional Learning and Teaching Conference, Durham, April 2009.



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