Tag Archives: teamwork

I hear a lot of horror stories about children’s TV productions and, each time, it seems so wrong – shouldn’t making kid’s TV be fun? Happy children’s entertainment shouldn’t mask some trial of agony. It’s about smiles. Laughs. Positivity.

And so now we’re in the thick of Cosmo production. Watching the scenes begin to come together is fantastic. It is a joy.

But I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit to the stress. Much of it is down to limited resources. I have a rule about working within my means. For me, a budget only really shows on-screen if a production reaches beyond its means and doesn’t quite pull it off. The cracks appear. Work within your means, on the other hand, and you can make it the absolute best it can be within those means. The only production on which I ever broke this rule was a pretty unenjoyable one.

So what about Cosmo? It’s an ambitious show with a small budget. Am I breaking my rule?


But it requires being more inventive about utilising our means. Increasing our means. It means being hands-on with every single aspect and making sure that every ounce of energy makes it on to the screen (if energy can be measured in ounces, which it probably can’t). That’s how I’ve always liked to make shows and, on a show with as many elements as Cosmo, it makes for one very long to-do list. That list includes directing tasks, design tasks, production tasks, management tasks, even voicing a character. All at once. And that’s only what I’m doing – every member of the team is contributing.

Here’s the truth: it can be hard sometimes.

Okay so not ‘working in a mine’ hard but it’s certainly not all smiles. You see, cliched as it may be, nothing worthwhile is ever easy. If it were, everyone would be doing it and, let’s face it, not everyone is. We’re doing something worthwhile here in the studio. In my (admittedly biased) view, with Cosmo, we’re doing something pretty great. So this isn’t about self-pity for those tough days and sometimes tougher decisions. This is simply an acceptance that production can be very busy and it can be hard.

That’s okay. Not okay just as a little thing we may admit to each other at those industry get-togethers. It’s okay generally. In fact, at times, it may be a very good sign. And accepting this leads me to two thoughts –

A) Problems should never be written into a system or accepted as part of the process. It’s hard enough when a production is going right. If the production horror stories don’t in any way lead to a better show on screen, well, that’s a real horror. What we do is about making a meaningful connection with children and giving them something positive. Anything else is just getting in the way.

B) We can be so fortunate to have fantastic teams working on our shows and we should always be thankful for that, for those people who really contribute. The level of support from everyone on our Cosmo team is amazing (Simon Crane and Adam Oliver pictured above). It inspires me and it keeps me going. Right from early development, people have given above and beyond not because they have been asked to but because they chose to. I am thankful for every single person giving to Cosmo right now and I’m already seeing the results of all our work in the scenes.

This is a true joy.


Sworcery A/V Jam

On a different topic, the makers of the excellent Sword & Sworcery game held an A/V Jam over the weekend, in which people could submit music, artwork and more all themed around Sworcery. I was really glad to be a part of it, submitting a cute little image of the Scythian and Dogfella. Some of the submissions are absolutely stunning so, if you have some time, head over and have a browse – http://sworcery.tumblr.com/

I remember being a child and being totally amazed seeing a man lie in a bed of nails on television. That can’t be real, I thought. They’re fake nails. But then, if they’re fake, why aren’t they bending or breaking under his weight? But if they’re real, why aren’t they going right through him?!


I know now, of course, that the weight distribution means that this nails can support a man without putting so much pressure on one nail that it would pierce the skin. Still, that’s amazing in its own way.

Somewhere between 15 and 20 years ago I was in a job interview. “Yes, of course,” I lied, to the question of whether I am a ‘team player’. I wondered if he’d see through me. The truth is, I do things my own way. I feel I’m at my best when not working with the systems of others but, instead, creating systems that work for me and the best interests of whatever project I am working on. So I have never seen myself as a team player.

Just me, my projects and the audience.

When you really care about what you do, and I do, the pressure can be immense. Every problem hurts. Every setback becomes a sleepless night. Every person who doesn’t share your vision becomes a potential threat. Every choice is a worry – am I doing the right thing? What happens if this all goes wrong? Being perfectly honest, it can break you down. I could be too much for one person to take on, especially if that person hasn’t had a break in a long time.

It’s like you’re a single nail and you’re trying to support a massive weight. If you don’t really have that strength, you’ll bend or break. If you do, you’ll pierce that weight and it will come down on top of you.

I’ve been feeling that lately.

But then I look around me. I see top creative talent working with me to create some amazing artwork. I see someone giving up their time to scour the country (and internet) for the best voice talent. I see a composer taking hours between a tour schedule to create beautiful, fun music. I see a producer putting all his faith in us and looking for creative and innovative ways of making it all happen. I see a broadcaster giving all they can to help it all come together. Everywhere I look, I see more and more people offering to help and no end of words of support and encouragement.

And I realise, it’s not me, one nail, and this massive weight. And it’s not even that these people are supporting me – reinforcing that single nail wouldn’t affect the outcome. It’s that each one of those people is a nail, just like me.

We are a bed of nails.

I am just one nail among many and, together, we’re supporting a man lying comfortably on top. In doing so, we’ll amaze an audience! And it turns out I am a team player after all.

To my fellow nails, I appreciate each and every one of you.

When it’s all getting too difficult, it’s worth taking a look not up at that weight you’re supporting, but around you. Because, like me, you may find you’re not alone. You’re a bed of nails, whether you planned it or not.

And, if you are, you’ll do just fine.