Marion Milne – Director, Writer, Producer

It’s Never Too Late… helps final-year Humanities students get advice from successful Exeter alumni, and showcases opportunities from the Career Zone.

Marion Milne is a Documentary Film Maker as well as an Emmy Nominated Director, Writer, Series Producer and award winning Producer. She graduated from Exeter with a BA in French and Drama in 1979.  Read about a day in her life filming one of her most recent documentaries about Martin Luther King.

This photo was taken last summer while shooting in America on a documentary for ITV about Martin Luther King.

Marion Milne and camera man on location in Memphis, Tennessee

We were in Memphis, Tennessee, and I’m directing from the back seat, while my camera man is in the front seat wielding the camera.

The reason we are filming in this way is that our presenter, Sir Trevor McDonald, has finished shooting for the day, and we are picking up what are called Point of View shots (POVs).

We’re inside a gorgeous 1955 Cadillac (from the Martin Luther King era) because we wanted to add a period feel to the documentary. We also used lots of music from the time. While shooting, with our driver, we covered many miles in the American South in the Cadillac, taking Sir Trevor from place to place of relevance to the Civil Rights Era.

It’s standard practice in TV (and even in feature films) to shoot the POV shots separately. So you film with the presenter (or the actor) to capture them sitting inside the car, you film something called ‘up and pasts’ to see them go past in the vehicle from outside the car, and then the last thing you do are the POV shots – as if the camera is seeing what the presenter is seeing.

Sometimes we get caught out. If you shoot everything in sunshine and then the POVs later in the day when it’s getting dark, the Editor (whose job it is to cut it all together) is most unimpressed. Ditto for rain!

Day to day shoots like this one are a combination of hard work and great fun. You get access to places you might never otherwise go to, and meet people you might not otherwise meet.

On the Martin Luther King shoot we interviewed his God Daughter and some of the brave people who marched alongside him in the Civil Rights Marches.

We learnt some amazing new facts. For example Martin Luther King never planned to say “I have a dream” in his famous March on Washington in August 1963. The truth is he was slightly running out of steam in the speech when a singer called Mahalia Jackson called out ‘tell them about the dream Martin, tell them about the dream’.

We also interviewed Martin Luther King’s secretary who typed up his words for the March on Washington. ‘That’s not the speech’’she said ‘that’s not the speech we stayed up all night typing’.

Sir Trevor McDonald, OBE

Another funny incident on the shoot was when we were in New York interviewing Harry Belafonte, the legendary singer who was also part of the Civil Rights movement.

We picked a location on the Upper East Side inside a building that is normally very quiet. When we got there, to our horror, there were construction workers outside, drilling. They were basically digging up the road and needed to get the job done that day. So much noise the interview would be impossible.

I spoke to the foreman, who was African American, and explained the problem. ‘For Mr Belafonte’ he said ‘we’ll stop drilling’.

When Harry Belafonte arrived (bearing in mind he is ninety) he happily posed for photos with all the construction workers as a thank you.  And true to their word, they stopped drilling as a thank you.

When we got back to the U.K. we had one more celebrity to track down. Naomi Campbell – who was also an honorary Godchild to Nelson Mandela – is a champion of Martin Luther King. When we learnt that one of the world’s most famous Super Models was keen to be interviewed for our documentary, we cleared our schedules and set up camp in the Dorchester Hotel during a brief break in Naomi’s busy day.

We learnt that Naomi was in her way to a Vogue shoot and would need at least two hours with her stylist and make-up artist before she appeared.

We waited on tenterhooks. Super Models are not really known for their punctuality and our window of opportunity was narrowing as the minutes ticked by.

Then, just when we had given up hope, the phone rang. ‘You’ve got fifteen minutes’ barked one of Naomi’s minders down the phone. In swept Naomi. In swept her entourage.

We were poised, waiting ready to roll. Naomi – looking amazing – gracefully sat down, switched off her phone and took off her sunglasses.

Action’ I said.

Ten minutes later we had our scoop. Naomi on MLK.  ‘He was fearless’ she said. ‘He lived what he said, breathed what he said, did what he said. His name will never be erased from the history books. Martin Luther King will never be forgotten’.

And with that she was gone. Bravo Naomi. Bravo Martin Luther King.

You can find out Marion’s Top Tips about how to gain a career in her sector: here.

Working for a Startup

Kellie Wragg graduated from the University of Exeter in 2016 with a degree in Business Management, and then in 2017 with a Masters in International Management. She is currently an Account Manager at HeadBox. 

Kellie Wragg, Exeter alumn and HeadBox Account Manager

During my final years at Exeter I used the Career Zone a lot to get some helpful advice about what my steps should be after my university career was over. They were really helpful and I would definitely recommend paying them a visit if anyone is finding their next steps daunting.

I wasn’t sure which industry I wanted to work in, but knew it was best to get as much experience as possible. Soon enough, I started working for an Estate Agency in London as a member of their Sales department. Although this role taught me a lot and was a great experience, I knew it wasn’t for me. The company themselves was fairly large and the processes they had set up were rigid and very set in stone. I didn’t like the feeling of being just another employee to them and having to stick to outdated and rigid terms. So, I decided to start looking for something else. That’s when I came across HeadBox.

“Being part of startup is always exciting and there are constant developments and new things to learn.”

HeadBox is the UK’s first SaaS enabled marketplace for creative venue and event spaces. The website was the first of its kind that allows you to instantly search, book and pay for a quirky venue online, which was a very exciting concept for the events industry. The more I looked into the company, the more interesting it sounded so I applied for a position as one of their Account Managers. I went through their interview process and eventually landed myself the role in the budding technology start-up. Working for a startup is a great experience, and one that comes with many positive aspects. Here are just a few reasons why I think working for a startup is the right step after you graduate.

Making an Impact

When you work for a smaller company or startup, there’s a lot more room for you to get your voice heard. As you’ll be working in a fairly small team it means each person has the chance to contribute and share their ideas from the beginning. This makes a huge difference to not only your confidence in the workplace but your ability to present your ideas to managers and peers. You can feel real ownership over your successes and how your work impacts a company as a whole. It really makes you feel like all your working efforts are making an impact on the success of the company, which is great.

The Startup Journey

Being part of a company during its adolescence is an invaluable experience, and an exciting one. You’ll definitely learn tonnes about the department you work in, but you’ll also get to work very closely with other departments and see how they work together to make the company great. For example, you may sit right next door to the marketing or finance team which means you can get a great insight into how your role affects them and vice versa. This is something you don’t always get in a larger company. Being part of startup is always exciting and there are constant developments and new things to learn.

Sociable Startups

The third benefit of working for a startup is the social aspect. You’ll usually find yourself surrounded by a group of other recent graduates who all share the same enthusiasm for making their way up the career ladder. Although there’s lots of hard work to do, there’s also a great sense of team spirit which makes it a relaxed environment to work in. You can constantly bounce ideas off of your colleagues and ask them for help and advice.

Progression

Finally, I think that being part of a startup company gives you a lot of opportunities for fast progression through a company. A successful startup grows pretty fast, and if you’ve made a good impression, you’ll be climbing up the ranks a lot quicker than at a larger corporate firm. There will be plenty of opportunities for you, and possibilities to see yourself moving from executive to manager within 6 months.

There are plenty of other benefits to working for a startup, the rewards really are endless and I would highly recommend it to any graduate who is looking to kick start their career.

Empathy, Resilience and Organisation – A Career in Education

It’s Never Too Late… helps final-year Humanities students get advice from successful Exeter alumni, and showcases opportunities from the Career Zone.

Lizzie Carter is currently working as a Key Stage 5 Achievement Coordinator at a grammar school and graduated from Exeter with a BA in English in 2012. Find out how she went from primary school teacher, to Ministry of Justice clerk, and back into the education sector. 

Elizabeth Carter, Exeter Alumn and current Key Stage 5 Achievement Coordinator

“After graduation, I had a ‘roller coaster’ career. I knew I wanted to go into education since being inspired by my former English teachers, and I was certain that job satisfaction was highly important to me. Feeling perhaps too young to teach teenagers, I went straight into a Primary PGCE and became a Junior school teacher for 3 years. This was a rewarding but demanding experience. Desperate to gain an insight into a profession outside the classroom, I took a leap of faith and gained a role with the Ministry of Justice as a High Court Judge’s clerk. When not commuting to London, I travelled across the country with my Judge sitting in on criminal trials and working with esteemed lawyers; an incredible experience. After 18 months, and being a little older and wiser, I knew I wanted to get back into education. So now I have returned to my old Grammar school where I studied for my GCSEs and A Levels (a surreal yet wonderful change of events!).

“The freedom I have in my role is fantastic as I manage my own workload and am moulding the position into my ideal job.”

My current role is titled ‘Key Stage 5 Achievement Coordinator’ which means I support sixth-formers by resolving pastoral issues, monitoring attendance, organising enrichment events and helping with career choices and university applications. As I have QTS, I also teach A Level Sociology, EPQ and am a mentor for GCSE English students. The freedom I have in my role is fantastic as I manage my own workload and am moulding the position into my ideal job! My days are never the same as it is very much student-led, so it can become quite hectic but brings an enormous amount of satisfaction – something I missed when employed by the court service.

The recruitment process for jobs in education – particularly teaching – is very rigorous with a formal interview, set tasks, a tour of the school (sometimes by students) and most of the time you’re asked to deliver a lesson in which you’re observed. Although it’s a daunting process and you know that everything you do is being scrutinised, you’re working out if the school is right for you as much as senior staff are assessing you as a potential employee. I would say that if you enjoy the day as a whole, it generally means that you and the school are a good fit. In both jobs I’ve had in education, I’ve been contacted on the same day as the interview with the outcome and feedback. This is a standard process in the sector and is real a positive as it means that you’re not waiting by the phone for days on end.

Undergraduate study definitely prepared me for a career in education because I can share anecdotes with students about my own time at university, singing Exeter’s praises in the process. What’s more, completing a dissertation allows me to offer research advice and referencing tips to my students writing their EPQ projects. My second-year module ‘English in the Workplace’ meant that I secured an 80-hour placement in a school. This counted as academic credit alongside submitting a reflective portfolio (which included an essay on the issue of equality in education). I also delivered a presentation to my peers and first-year students to describe my experience. I believe this module was a real asset when applying for my postgraduate course and subsequent jobs.

“I believe I’m a walking example of someone who thought they knew what career they wanted, and still do, but have followed a peculiar pathway before arriving.”

In order to succeed in education, I would say you need empathy, resilience and good organisational skills as working in a school never has its dull moments and keeps you on your toes! More importantly, you really need to have a lifelong desire for learning as this inspires students to achieve their potential and be as committed (as clichéd as it may sound). Working with sixth formers has motivated me to seriously consider applying for the MA Education online course at Exeter; something I would probably never have considered had I entered a different profession.

Ultimately, I hope to progress to becoming an English teacher within the department at my school and eventually gain a leadership post. Everything has come full circle which has been very strange but fulfilling. I believe I am a walking example of someone who thought they knew what career they wanted, and still do, but have followed a peculiar pathway before arriving. Between finishing my degree and gaining the job I have now, I have acquired a range of skills and confirmed that education is the right sector for me by testing the waters elsewhere. Even if I could, I would not change my journey as the life experience – and couple of grey hairs – I bring to the classroom enriches both my pedagogy and my students’ learning.”

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