“I began telling stories with sound and on the radio back when I was a student, there was a University radio station where they played 90s rock and my flatmate and I used to show up playing records backwards, reading from poetry books and making strange noises. They banned us within a month, so I turned it into a career!”
“Brighton offers opportunities to work with a diverse range of people engaged with the arts and creative media. There is so much talent in the city whether it be designers, writers, artists, or actors. If you want to put together a project that most interesting and exciting people are on your doorstep.
Teaching offers a chance to both reach out to people with your ideas and interest, to inspire them and show them new ways of working within your discipline. It also gives you the chance to constantly refresh and update your work, because good students bring a lot to the room – references, ideas and ways of looking at the world that you’d never get on your own.
Professional work and awards
I haven’t stopped producing work professionally, and the two fields of my life work hand in hand. As a lecturer I can bring in completely contemporary references, and show students the briefs and documents that I’m working with at that time . Because you learn from mistakes, I tell the students all the dumb things I’ve done, the pitches that went wrong, the interviews a messed up, and the projects that nearly went off the rails. Creative practice is about taking risks, making mistakes, and then trying not to repeat them (and making nemistakes instead).
I’m most proud of the project I’m working on at the moment, The Rez. It’s a children’s drama podcast, comic book and digital app that has gone around the world and has a big international following. On the surface it’s a fun adventure filled with jokes about farts and silly robots… but inside that story there are messages about kindness, about looking after yourself, and understanding feelings of loneliness or what to do to get friends. When I read the reviews for the show from kids online, I’m proud that this silly, fun show is touching the lives of children around the world.
I’ve won a lot of awards in the last couple of years – mostly for The Rez – which is great because it’s not just a media project but is a mental health project. Just recently we won a Bronze Signal (an international podcasting) Award for Best Children’s podcast (beating off a show from Elmo, which is quite a thing). A year ago, I won a Gold Award for Best Entertainment Producer, and a Silver Award for Best Comedy Producer at the UKs Audio Production Awards – that was a big deal to me because I won a Gold Award for Drama Production in 2018 and I thought it wouldn’t happen again – so that was a lovely affirming moment.
A big part of my work is concerned with how to use stories, sound, and games to address the crisis in children’s mental health. The philosophy of the project is that we should go to where kids are, and to tell stories and jokes about the world they inhabit, instead of telling them what they should do or how to live their lives in a better way. We’re hoping to extend these techniques into different areas and for different audiences, for instance creating content for refugee children that they can download and enjoy while taking in positive messages and information.
My advice to students
Be interested in your subject holistically. What does that mean? Be interested in the industry or field you want to work in in a really broad way, not just the parts that you imagine you want to work in, the whole thing. Get a bigger understanding, see how everything fits together, and from that try to spot gaps, trends, and movements that you could end up working in.
At Brighton students are supported to succeed through a combination of being willing to take risks, make mistakes, and having realistic expectations while having the confidence to push themselves in ways they didn’t expect.
I’ve seen students forge careers around the world, and move into areas that they trained hard for others that they didn’t expect to go into. A lovely moment happened about a year back when I having a meeting at the Broadcast House Café Nero, and as I collected my drink a recent former student bounced up to me and told me she was working as a research assistant and then her producer showed up and they turned out to be another ex-student on mine! It did make me feel quite old realising that there are generations of my graduates working at the BBC!”