Many might imagine that “oh you’re writing your first post, it has to be epic and stuff”. If that is your level of expectation from blog posts, then I hope I won’t leave you disappointed.
Hi, my name is Jeremiah, and I’d like to share with you the journey of a man who had a dream to start his own thang. He was also passionate about video.
So in the beginning, the year was 2010. I graduated (and by graduated, I mean leaving after working there for 2 years) from Mediacorp, then freelanced, worked with amazing people, and decided to start my own company in 2014. Well this is pretty much the journey for those that are attuned to TLDR. But if you’re still reading on, then let me break up the journey into these chapters:
- Them Mediacorp days
- Freelancing like a free bird
- Birth of CVP and other shenanigans
- In the Creative Business
- In the Business of being Creative
Now children, let’s start with Chapter 1.
CHAPTER 1: THEM MEDIACORP DAYS
Many might still recognise the old Mediacorp logo when the campus was still at Caldecott Drive. They’ve since shifted to One North circa 2015.
I was in On-Air Promotions (OAP) for Channel 5 (English), and did mainly video editing that included interstitials, promos, ads, and anything that falls in your mega Monday blockbuster. We shared offices with OAP8 (Mandarin) but that did not serve to improve my spoken Mandarin, sadly.
Whether you’re fresh or experienced in the media industry, many will tell you that “Mediacorp is where dreams come to die”. To each their own. I know of people who left as quickly as they started, and I know of people who has stayed there longer than Putin has seemingly been in power. I want to share some learning takeaways from my time so you can decide for yourself if Mediacorp is good, bad, or fugly.
The only media broadcaster in Singapore
Yes it’s a state-owned broadcaster turned private entity and holds a monopoly in Singapore with 7 TV channels, 11 radio channels, and an OTT digital platform called Toggle. I’m not joking when I say they own the broadcasting landscape in Singapore. Or used to anyway (With YouTube and Netflix and whatnot). Because they were the only major broadcaster in Singapore, their budgets for shoots were quite large and I had the great graces to be part of shows and campaigns that were extensive in terms of crew size, art departments, styling, wardrobe, actors etc. If you like all the lights, sounds, and actions, then this can be a great place to start and learn about general knowledge on production! But with all beningings, culture sets the tone of a production set.
Habits Maketh a Man
Early years saw the hiring and consultation of Hong Kong media experts to help with it’s TV department and the shows and content was generally amazing. But the culture and habits that came along with the HKers, not so much. Shouting, cursing, and overall belittling people on set was the norm, and can be a super negative environment to work in. Honestly, I don’t understand why directors or heads of departments must shout and scream for something to get done.. You want the lighting or camera crew to do something, then tell nicely and assertively. You don’t need to be a wanker and treat people like monkeys. All that shouting just increases animosity and decreases morale. I didn’t have good experiences on set because the air was always so tense and you can basically here the gritting and gnashing of teeth. Legit.
Learnt what NOT to do
So I basically learn what NOT to do on set, and to give myself a high level of excellence to benchmark on. I told myself that for all production sets that I am on or I control, I will keep the atmosphere light and to keep morale up because a happy crew is a productive crew. Back in the edit suites, I was still using beta tapes and VHS tapes and using AVID to edit, which are all very very outdated processes. I had to learn Final Cut Pro on my own and my superiors didn’t really know how to help. Because of this, my skills I got from my time in Mediacorp, was only limited to Mediacorp because I could not really apply them outside of work. Everything was already somewhat digital and I actually taught myself how to use Final Cut Pro, and then Premiere Pro, outside of work.
Stifling of Creativity
Now equipment and processes weren’t the only things that were backdated. When you’re the only company in Singapore that has broadcast licensing, you wouldn’t feel the need to innovate, or push boundaries. So show formats were repeated, ideas were recycled, and nothing amazing was being created. My colleagues ideas will get shot down because it was ‘too edgy’ or it will get repurposed and then dumbed down to fit day time television. Many of my colleagues actually left because of this reason and I daresay that this factor contributes highly to the massive turnover rates that Mediacorp sees. It’s the sad truth, but the truth nonetheless.
If you’ve managed to read to this point, I applaud your patience and tolerance to my regurgitations, and you’re probably thinking how much I dislike Mediacorp. You aren’t wrong, but I really did learn a lot from my time there as it made me a better producer, editor, director, and who I am today. So kids if you’re thinking of joining Mediacorp, yes please do! (At your own discretion)
So with all good things (or bad things) it came to an end when I left Mediacorp in 2010 to freelance, and that brings me to chapter 2…of which I’ll write another post another day when I’m hit with a bagful of inspiration.
Guess I’m an author now.