John Hiscock (Communications and Digital Media BA(Hons) 2006) is the LA-based producer for ITV’s breakfast shows, Good Morning Britain and Lorraine. John has worked in breakfast television ever since he graduated. John shares some of his career insights and explains why there is no such thing as a typical working day …
“My involvement with ITV started a couple of years before graduating when my course required a one-month work placement. The university helped me set up a placement at GMTV, which is the show that has gone on to become Good Morning Britain.
“That placement set me on a career path that I still find myself following today. The experience really helped me focus my attention on why I was at university and the direction I wanted my career to take upon graduation.
“If you want a career in TV, the best advice I can offer is to get as much early experience before you finish your studies as possible. It’s a competitive industry to break into, and that’s why meeting professionals already working within the area you want to go into is a good place to start seeking opportunities.
“During my 10 years working in breakfast TV, one thing has remained constant throughout all the roles I’ve filled, and that’s that no one day is ever the same. Because the show’s content is driven by news and what’s topical, the things I’m working on change constantly.
“This has been particularly applicable to my role in Los Angeles. I work alongside our LA correspondent, Ross King, and cameraman, Dan Brown. We might only be a small team but we generate a considerable amount of content for both Good Morning Britain and Lorraine.
“The content that we produce is extremely varied spanning hard news to entertainment, and everything in between. Because we tackle such a wide range of areas, I have to expect the unexpected and be prepared to think on my feet when plans change at the last minute. For example last year we were due to shoot an interview with the British singer James Bay. I was driving to the location when it became apparent that a huge news story was breaking after there were reports of a horrific shooting in San Bernardino, which we later discovered was a terrorist attack. That’s how quickly the day can change. The interview with James Bay was cancelled and in a matter of moments, myself and the LA team were on our way to San Bernardino to cover the heartbreaking events.
“Although breaking news is always a possibility, entertainment news and celebrity interviews are what we do the most. In the past year and a half, Ross King has had sit-down interviews with the toast of Hollywood talent. We interview a lot of Hollywood actors about their new movies, the most recent interview that springs to my mind was with Angelina Jolie and Jack Black for the movie Kung Foo Panda 3.
“When producing an interview with an A-list movie star you want everything to run like clockwork, and it’s my job as producer to make sure that it all goes to plan.
“Our interview with Angelina Jolie was great, but there were some hurdles to overcome to get us to the end result. When we arrived at the filming location it was a room in a hotel without any furniture and props for set dressing. This is when you really earn your money as the producer gluing everything together. Sometimes you just have to make things happen and conjure something out of nothing. When there is no room for failure and a deadline to be met, it’s amazing what you can achieve under pressure.
“So that covers the two most significant aspects of my job – breaking news and entertainment content. But there’s a third, and that’s LA lifestyle and trend pieces. We do a lot of these, particularly for the Lorraine show. I’ve produced some really fun segments over the past year, from taking Ross King for an acting class with a Hollywood acting coach to taking him to a drag queen convention and having him receive a drag makeover.
“I’m always on the lookout for ideas. I’m the only producer for ITV breakfast based out in America and I’m their eyes and ears in the states. The team in London relies on me to inform them of what everybody is talking about in America and also to filter through which of the American news and topical talking points will be relevant to our audience.
“Back when I was studying and thinking about the job I wanted to do, I always knew that I wanted something creative and that I could really get involved with. What I do is not without frustrations or challenges, and it’s a lot of hard work, but it’s very fulfilling and has provided me with life experiences beyond anything I could have imagined.
“I often get asked how I broke into the TV industry. I definitely believe there is an element of being in the right place, at the right time and meeting the right people. I can’t recommend work placements enough. Also when you know what you want to do it’s important that you focus your mind on how you can achieve it. You have to believe in what you want and give yourself space and permission to make it happen – it’s amazing how far a bit of positivity can take you!”