What has CMC ever done for me? Rewriting a Career.
What has CMC ever done for me? Oh, not much.
Apart from change my career, allow me to become a TV writer, turn me into a minor celebrity among my daughter’s ‘Go Jetter’ loving classmates, and help make a wealth of connections across an entirely brilliant industry.
But other than that…
The first time I attended CMC I had no connection with the world of children’s media. I came from a publishing background – a decade and a half of working as a travel writer and editor – but with two young kids now taking over my life, I was keen to put the passport in the draw for a while and explore new, non-jet-setting avenues.
Like most creatively-inclined parents who find themselves thrust back into the delightful world of children’s stories, I’d been toying with the idea of writing a book for kids. You know how it is. By chance, I was sent a link to a call-out for volunteer bloggers for some children’s conference in Sheffield – right on my doorstep, but which I never knew existed. Might be interesting, I thought.
I got in touch, and a couple of weeks later found myself in the middle of a four-hour creative workshop on how to make a Bible for a children’s TV programme. I was blown away by the creativity in the room, the co-operation and sharing of ideas, and the friendliness of the delegates and experts. I wanted a bit more of this, I decided. But where to start, how to get in? Well, CMC of course!
I offered to come back and blog again the following year, but Greg wasn’t having it. He wanted me to run the whole blogging team. And do the ebulletins. And then work for a while as a content manager. And help put on Manimation. Which was all fantastic – I got to know a lot of people from a lot of great companies. But I was still hesitant to tell anybody that I actually wanted to work on their programmes. After all, I came from a different background and had no TV experience. But if I didn’t tell them, how were they supposed to know?
So I bit the bullet. I put my name down for a speed meeting with a producer from ‘Go Jetters’. I’ll just come out and say it, I decided. I’ll tell them about my travel writing background, how I love the show, how my daughter loves the show, about all the great ideas I’ve got, and how I’d love to write for the next series. I psyched myself up to go and nail this. It was now or never. Heart beating a little too quickly, I turned up for my slot and looked at the notice to find the correct table… only to see a note saying that the producer was really sorry but they’d had to dash off. Grimbles!
But I was still determined to seize the moment. I found another BBC person at another table, activated my G.O. Self-confidence click-on, and told her my story. She was very nice, and introduced me to an exec who’d previously worked on the show, who was also very nice and suggested writing a spec episode which she would pass on to the current Go Jetters team. Which I did. They liked it, and I was invited to join the group of writers to pitch ideas for the next series.
And the rest, as they say, is history. Well, fairly recent history – two episodes that I wrote aired before Christmas, with another to come later this year. I still have to pinch myself when I see my story on the screen. My daughter was mildly impressed too, although typically she’s now moved on to ‘Dennis & Gnasher’ and ‘Class Dismissed’, so that’s the next aim. Since then I’ve got work on other great projects following conversations with seemingly random people I’ve met at CMC. It really does work, this chatting to people business.
And my CMC story continues. Two conferences ago I pitched an idea to the room, based on the book idea I’d originally had, and got a lot of encouraging, positive feedback. (The Panda-detective one… nothing concrete’s happened with it yet so give me a shout if you want to chat!) Then at the last conference, I was promoted again, coming full circle to co-produce the session where it all started – the Pitching/Bible workshop – and meeting a whole new set of great people in the process.
So what has CMC ever done for me? Oh, not that much…
But roll on CMC 2020!