Freelances' project wins extra year of funding
Tutor Frances Dredge - © nuj
16 December 2016
A Federation of Entertainment Unions (FEU) project to help media and creative workers has won its bid for another year's government funding.
Members of the National Union of Journalists, Equity, Musicians' Union and the Writers' Guild of Great Britain are all eligible to participate in the free workshops, webinars and on-line resources to help freelances with their careers.
The courses also offer a great opportunity to network with other media and creative workers.
The Union Learning Fund project, for members in England, runs a range of courses and free workshops, including how to use social media, making films on your iPhone or iPad, how to negotiate pay and pitch your work, setting goals, dealing with setbacks and finance for freelances.
Members of the four unions came together at the end of 2016 for a workshop, Building Momentum, which encouraged them to assess their work throughout the year, prepare to build on successes and learn from the things that didn't go quite so well.
The members were encouraged to sign up as learning champions, who are expected to promote the events and work of the FEU project to colleagues. If you would be interested in being a learning champion, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tutor Frances Dredge asked the class to work in groups to discuss the challenges they had faced in their careers during the year, to think about how to develop their strengths, maintain the passion and put into practice what they had learned from taking part in FEU learning opportunities.
Tutor Muriel McClymont led a session on developing motivational strategies and tips on how to do the tasks and jobs – such as filing tax returns – that have to be done, but are so easy to put off.
Rino Pucci worked as a photographer on the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera for 15 years before coming to the UK to study. Now he is a freelance visual journalist, contributing to his former newspaper, and making documentaries, videos and shooting portraits. He said it was a difficult transition moving from a large newspaper organisation to working for himself. He said: "One of the first things I did was transfer my union membership to the NUJ and once I heard about the FEU courses I signed up to many of them and learned how to negotiate deals, write a blog, how to use social media, body language and how to deal with rejections. I have learned a lot and the classes also offer a great opportunity to interact with other people." See Rino's work on his website.
Julia Titus trained as an actress, but lately has been developing her career as a singer. When she arrived at the class, she was clutching a pile of CDs – her debut album Life is Too Short. "I told Muriel during a goal-setting class that I would be getting out the CD and here it is," she said. She sings in the jazz band Ma Bessie and her Pigfoot Band, a tribute to Bessie Smith, and reggae band The Hurricane Force Steel Band. During the class she admitted to waiting six weeks to telephone a venue following a gig because she thought it had gone badly. "When I made myself pick up the phone," she said, "I was told that they thought it had gone really well and so I had been beating myself up for six weeks for no reason." She later said: "This session has been just the boost I needed to get focused again and be ready for the new year. I'll also be active on social media promoting the CD." And, after being approached by a saxophone-playing classmate, she may have a new member in the band. You can buy a copy of the CD on her website.
Ross Virgo graduated from London's Royal Central School of Speech and Drama two years ago and has become very aware of the realities of his chosen profession. He has worked part time at the National Theatre box office to make sure the rent gets paid, but always makes sure he has an acting project on the go. He said: "I was amazed that I had access to all these free courses through my union. I have done everything from Five strategies for success to Finance for freelances. I'm still learning how to do the Twitter, as I call it, and have found it vital for getting to hear about news in the industry. I'm also trying to build up my online presence. Acting is so competitive; you have to do all you can to get an advantage. What I am trying to learn is to come to terms with rejection and realise that when you don't get a part it is just that they needed someone else for that job, on that day." Ross also sets himself challenges and has joined an improvisation group, Very Serious People, which has been given a residency on the first Monday of every month at the Bridewell Theatre, London.
Nina Kristoffenson's Billie Holiday Story won amazingly good reviews across the press and more recently she played Mrs Van der Kieft in the stage version of The Sting at Wilton's Music Hall, but now she is writing an action film script. She doesn't want to give too much away, but said: "It's about relationships and is fast with lots of energy." Fortunately for her, her diary is looking busy. She has been offered her first role on a video game, she runs voice masterclasses and always make sure she gets to industry events. She said: "If I get invited to things, I go. You never know who you may meet. And I am always keen to learn new skills and stay on top of new developments. Taking time out to think and plan what you are doing is never time wasted."
More information on the FEU Training website
NUJ training in Scotland: whether it is social media, filming for i-devices, feature writing and pitching, writing for the web or an Adobe Photoshop introduction, visit the training website for course outlines and dates.
NUJ training in Wales: courses on mentoring and coaching and surviving and thriving as a freelance: see the programme on the training website.