Anna Bates, Broadcast Television

I'm Anna, and I'm a producer

Describe your job

I work on factual documentary programmes for channels like the BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5, PBS, etc. My job involves helping to develop the creative/editorial of the film or series, and basically making it happen!

The job is of course really varied, but I am pretty much either in the office setting up a shoot or out on a shoot.

A typical day in the office might involve conducting background research, thinking up ideas for how we could tell the story, casting contributors to be in the film, finding locations to film in, writing up schedules for filming, writing questions for contributors, negotiating rates, finding archive, working closely with the director to develop the creative for the film.

On location, these are often really long days and can be abroad or in the UK. I will be responsible for making sure the shoot runs to schedule, everybody is happy, making sure we cover all the necessary editorial points, and being the right-hand woman to the director. I also shoot too, so depending on the type of project I might be filming and recording sound for some of the sequences. It can be very stressful but also really exciting!

What are the most important skills you need to do your job?

Resilience & a thick skin, storytelling, problem solving, creativity, imagination, technical skills are also very helpful!

I left school and...

After I left school, I went to university to study history. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and ended up doing the following… being accepted into drama school, turning down drama school, working for a year in marketing, and directing plays in my spare time.

I then ended up working in an American candy store on a zero hours contract which meant that I could leave every so often to take ad-hoc runner roles and film internships.

Eventually I got a job as a PA for a film producer, and left that to work as a technical runner in-house at BBC Factual - the best job ever! Moved around junior roles at the BBC for a couple of years, then left the BBC to work on a freelance basis moving up from junior researcher to where I am now.

I’m most proud of...

Great Asian Railway Journeys, BBC

The Blitz: Britain On Fire, Channel 5

Britain's Forgotten Army, Channel4

Before I started my career, I wish I knew…

Don’t sweat the small stuff! Be patient as well as confident and persistent.

A mistake I made which you can avoid repeating is...

Don’t be afraid to venture out from the safety of a big name/company if you aren’t getting the experience that you need. Your own professional growth is more important. And you can always go back.

So, what’s next?

I’d like to continue creating content - be it for TV or otherwise - and right now I’m keen to expand my network and experience beyond broadcast television into other creative fields. I’m open!

Here's my:

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