Murray Wilson is a Video Journalist with STV in Glasgow. Additional broadcast credits include stints as a Camera Operator for BBC2's Scottish Rally Championship and ITN / STV's Election Night 2015. He completed an HND in Television Production at Jewel and Esk College in 2008.
Can you tell us what a typical week in your job involves, given that, as a camera person, you cover a wide range of topics in different settings?
Murray: Well my official title is Video Journalist, so that means I will find a story (or be set an assignment) which I will go out and film, then get back to the studio and edit it into a 2-5 minute video package to be broadcast that night on the show I work on. We also have a segment where our “Roving Reporter” is out live on location every night and I am the cameraman that covers that. It’s a very varied role and I am by no means limited to those two tasks mentioned. In the last few months alone I’ve broadcast live from T in the Park, been the floor manager/main camera operator on a new Edinburgh Festival show, been shooting on a speedboat and then a seaplane as it flew over Glasgow. The list goes on!
You seemed to have made a relatively quick transition from finishing your HND to working as a camera operator. What did the process involve?
Murray: On the contrary, my transition from finishing my studies to employment took nearly 5 years. I graduated just as the recession was at its lowest point and nowhere was hiring, thus my part time job in a supermarket became full time and a lot more permanent than I had hoped for. The occasional bit of (unpaid or very low paid) work for friends was all I really managed to muster during that time. I sent out hundreds of applications to everyone from local web-based TV stations, all the way to British and American production companies that are at the top of their game and still I got nowhere.
Then one day, whilst at my dead end job, my current job was advertised. As you can imagine after 5 years of constant knock backs, I was almost ready to give up, but with some encouragement from my girlfriend and a few others, I applied, was successful and am now in full time employment in an industry I was trying to break into for the better part of 10 years.
What are the particular challenges of working on live broadcasts?
Murray: Our timings are very strict and translating that and getting an interviewee to understand can sometimes be a bit challenging. If our live segment time is at twenty two minutes and thirty four seconds past the hour, that’s when our slot is! We can have a bit of leeway 5-10 seconds either way, but it’s all very tightly controlled and to have a guest wander off and then not re-appear until seconds before we go live is very stressful, especially when you know you have to fill 3 minutes with just the presenter talking!
What qualities would you say those looking to start a career in broadcasting should work on?
Murray: You have to be willing to get stuck in no matter what the task, be it helping set up a studio or something as simple as making the tea, no job should be viewed as beneath you, it’s a team effort and usually these teams are pretty small, so showing you’re willing to help out goes a long way.
If you’re not sure of something, ask. I personally see no shame in not knowing something, so if you’re asked to perform a task and aren’t sure, ask someone who does or can point you in the right direction. Better to show a willingness to learn than to try to bluff it and make a mistake that you’ll be called out on.
Camera department job vacancies don't tend to be advertised all too often. How does someone aiming for a career in this area go about finding work?
Murray: In my case it was a mixture of good fortune and good timing. Otherwise (and believe me, I know how awful it is to hear this as I used to roll my eyes at the same answer when I read it) it’s just a case of perseverance and to keep trying. It’s not an easy industry to break into no matter what the role is, but once you have even a toe in the door, exploit it. Working your way up is definitely the norm, so no matter what you’re aiming to be, getting a job as a runner is usually the entry level position to aim for.
Follow Murray on Twitter: @The_MWilson