At some point on your journey through life you are bound to have been asked that age old question 'Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?' or 'imagine what you will be doing in 5 years time'... I don't think in TV you have to know the answer. Yes, a path you desire to follow is critical - but to know absolutely hand on heart that your job title will be 'xxx' - no, I don't think you do need to know that.
I remember being at secondary school - in my first year - and showing absolute disdain towards the fact we had to learn French. It was mandatory. Now don't get me wrong - I love the French language - but I had already spent 5 years at primary school learning the basics. I was outraged that I had to sit in a beginners class. My teacher said to me 'imagine, if we said to you, OK Louise, come back in 5 years and join the class - you would not remember a word'; I was too busy thinking 'in 5 years time I will be 16 and cool - I won't care'.
Fast forward 5 years to my 16th birthday party - at that stage of my life I was so used to people (generally of the older, boring variety) reminding me how useful something might be in 5 years time, or asking me where I wanted to be in 5 years time, that I would often consider it myself - and the thought of 5 years time ahead seemed terrifying. Five years from then felt like a really, really long time away - I mean, come on, 21 was so ancient, right?
I wish I could be 21 again. I would soooo make some different choices. I don't have regrets - I am one of the champions of the school of 'you only live once' - but, if I had my time again, I would definitely live a little more. At that grand age of 21 there are three things I wish I had done more of:
1. Appreciating my body. I was hot. Sorry - may sound a little arrogant - but looking back I was so hot and I so didn't see it!!! I actually thought I had a crap figure. I found a photo the other day of me and my GBF (gay best friend) at a uni night, and he had pulled my skirt up. My bum looked amazeballs. I so should have got it out more!
2. Keeping in touch. I went off to uni and partied hard. I didn't keep regular contact with some amazing friends from school - and now I don't have relationships with them as we drifted apart. I miss them, so I wish I had.
3. Not worried so much about following a fixed career I thought I was suppose to have - and pleasing everyone but myself. I genuinely thought I had to pursue a fixed job title - and that to be successful, I had to attain that title. it was almost as if I thought you could only ever do one thing. Oh ta-da here I am a 'xxx' - that's it, career goal reached, stop trying.
I wonder, had I actually left university and pursued a career in television in my early 20s, where I would be now. Part of me genuinely thinks possibly in exactly the same place I am! At that age and experience level, I would have had to have started as a runner and worked my way up. So actually, you see, there is no point in regrets - the outcome generally works out the way it is supposed to. Here I am now, in a job I love (regardless of how I got here), and apart from wishing my bum still looked that good, I have no regrets! I still got here...
That brings me - finally - to today, and the point of this rambling: I wonder where I will be (in TV) in 5 years time. Five years ago I could have told you with certainty that I knew I would be doing an important job, I just had no idea in which sector it would be. Today I could tell you with certainty that I know I will be working in TV in 5 years time - I just have no idea in which role!
One of the things that I love about the television sector is that although you do need to have a focus (i.e. when starting out, know if you are following a creative, editorial, technological or production path) - you can go on a real journey in television, and the range of options open to you are immense.
I know a lady - a very successful lady - who currently heads up talent at one of the largest broadcasters in the UK. I imagined she must have got there through a HR/develoment path. Nope, not at all. She was formerly a TV producer.
I know a chap (I know, I know a lot of people who make fab examples...) who is a Production Manager with several top indies - earning big bucks he is - and yet he never worked on a production in his life. Joined as a PM after a career as an in-house production accountant.
My friend the SP, used to be a dedicated Production Coordinator... who loved the creative element of Line Producing, when she got an opportunity to excel rapidly, and now SPs too.
The fact is, it all counts - and it can lead you up a variety of potentially wonderful paths.
I know where I would like to be in 5 years time - I am not telling you, I don't want to jinx it - but the reality is, my journey in television could take me anywhere. I would also - as a sideline to the TV dream - like to write a book and own a bar in Ibiza. Not sure what the book will be about yet - but I can guarantee the bar will play amazing chill out tunes, have an awesome sunset view and not charge 5000E a drink!
I thrive on the unknown to an extent - and I find it exciting that I could be doing something really amazing. I love this industry so much that I am confident whether I end up remaining purely in production, or elsewhere, that I will go to work each day (well, most days!!) with a smile on my face.
All around me I see determined people - dedicated to building a reputation as (i.e.) a news reporter, an editor, a cameraman, a producer, etc - and I hope they get there. I wonder though, if in 5 years time, the path will have been as clear as they imagine it will be cut?
We are privileged in this sector to have so many opportunities. When one door closes, another often opens. Grab them and make sure every experience counts. As I always say - aim for the stars (or the edit suite/location/job title) and if you land on a cloud and that's pretty nifty too, enjoy it!