Success Stories

John Okello

Edit Assistant - The Farm

''The fact MAMA Youth said yes to me and cared about me, made such a difference. I wouldn't be where I am now without MAMA Youth.''

What have you been doing since you left MAMA Youth?

When I first left MAMA Youth I went onto a six-week placement at Sky with their editing team. I learnt lots especially about colour and grading, I was working on a long form painting show and what they did to bring out the colours was really cool. It was in my first job at The Farm however, that I really started to learn what my job was, I was definitely thrown in the deep end. I started as a Trainee Edit Assistant and was then promoted to Edit Assistant which is what I’m doing now. When I left MAMA Youth it was really important to me that I had a steady income so I could help my parents out as well as develop my career, this role at The Farm has really allowed me to do that.

How did you get into The Farm?

I met someone from The Farm at the MAMA Youth Graduation called Helen Turner and we stayed in touch via LinkedIn. She messaged me about coming in for an interview and I got the role as Trainee Edit Assistant straight after my placement at Sky.

What’s been a nerve wracking moment in your career?

In my role as Edit Assistant I went on location in Austria on ‘The Jump’ which was really scary. In the first two weeks I was incredibly nervous. It was my first role as data wrangler, I had to collect the rushes from location and bring them back to the edit location. It was an hour and a half round trip up and down the mountain if I forgot anything. My boss was really good and helped me get into the role, it was a new side of TV that I didn’t know about. There were so many people I had to communicate with, I had to be really assertive to make sure I had everything before I drove back down the mountain. I had lots of self-doubt about whether I could do it, but after five weeks there I had gained so much knowledge and when I came back I could use that knowledge in my normal role.

Describe a typical day in your current role:

In the morning I head down to the basement which is where I work along with three other colleagues. We work shifts so I find out what everyone’s been working on and find out if there’s any work to be handed over from the previous shift. I then spend the next eight hours ploughing through the rushes, making sure everything has been transcoded. I spent a lot of the day on the phone, communicating with my supervisors and clearing up any missed communications. I also do quite a lot of trouble shooting, if we get an external hard drive that’s not working I need to work out why, and work with colleagues in IT and engineering to get it working. I have to ensure all the right people know about any issues with rushes so everyone is in the loop. In between all that I’m eating, chatting, laughing and trying to keep my colleagues sane as we sit in our windowless basement! At the end of the day I write an email to handover to the next shift so they know what I’ve done and what needs doing.

What did you learn from MAMA Youth?

I learnt practical skills such as how to use Avid and how to network as well as how to communicate with people from all different places and levels. We had so many visitors and guest speakers and whenever they came in, it felt really genuine that they wanted to help so I knew I had to step up, overcome my nerves and network with them.

The best bit at MAMA Youth?

The best bit about working at MAMA Youth was working with likeminded people who all had the same goal. It pushed me because I knew I couldn’t let anyone down.

What did you do at MAMA Youth?

I had to edit the show, which meant booking a slot with the Production Manager and then communicating with the researcher to find out their ideas. When we were working together it was important not to waste time. I was never working alone, and the edit sessions we did were always really cool. We had so many different topics and personalities and we had to make the show look good for Bob, which at times was scary as I didn’t want to let him down. I worked with the other editors to learn from them and share what I had done.

What were you doing before MAMA Youth?

I had been to university and done Digital Media, it was such a broad course that I wasn’t qualified enough to do anything in TV when I left. When I left university I was was working at Sainsburys’ to earn some money while looking for a job in TV. A friend told me about MAMA Youth and I applied but didn’t get in the first time round because I wasn’t confident enough, but I worked on that and got in the second time I applied.

What surprised you about MAMA Youth?

I was surprised by how genuine it was, there aren’t many schemes around that actually want to help young people. The fact that MAMA Youth said yes to me and cared about me, it made such a difference. I would have struggled for ages, I wouldn’t be where I am now without MAMA Youth.

What advice would you give to new MAMA Youth trainees?

Go in with an open mind, don’t expect to know it all. We were all trainees and we didn’t know as much as we thought we did. Love what you do, while you’re doing it, be enthusiastic and don’t let your worries get you down. Encourage each other, when I saw others doing that it encouraged me too. - October 2017