18 months after landing a dream job as a sound operator at Sky, George Jones looks back on his journey into the television industry with gratitude and pride. Passionate about sound and with an Audio and Music Production degree under his belt, George was determined to pursue a career in television and was getting some experience in a small local studio before having to take six months out to care for his convalescing mother. He says it’s thanks to the MAMA Youth Project for getting his career back on track and giving him the hands-on experience, skills and networking opportunities that has resulted in the high profile, fulfilling and full-time employment that he enjoys today.
What does your role involve day to day?
It has been varied because of lockdown and has still been very busy. I’ve been working on a lot of football, augmented audio, sound fx and live mixing. It’s a role with significant responsibility and I was nervous to start with about pressing wrong button! It’s both technical and creative and on productions, the sound that viewers are going to hear will depend on me. I also work on boxing, cricket and golf, assisting with comms and making sure on-screen talent have their microphones fitted correctly. It’s a really interesting role with great variety and so much to get my head around.
How has MYP helped you personally as well as professionally?
If I had not done the MAMA Youth Project training, I wouldn't be working at Sky, so there has been a direct impact. Sky gets so many applications, it’s unlikely that I would have even got an interview without MAMA Youth behind me, the aftercare has been so valuable, beyond the training and then actually getting a foot in the door. The doors would still be closed if I'd not had you guys on my side. Since finishing the training in the winter of 2018 I’ve worked on TV sets and met really good people. Everything I’m doing here is new and it's very humbling coming to a massive corporation like Sky and knowing that their way of working is top quality, it keeps your ego down and puts you in your place.
What were you doing before MYP?
I was working in a local studio but didn't plan on staying and my mum had health problems too. I was passionate about audio production but trying to get in was so hard. It was frustrating not to get a foot in the door despite going to Uni and I was working in an office job while I kept searching. Before MAMA Youth it felt like I was climbing a wall with the end never in sight, MYP boosted my situation significantly.
What surprised you most about the training and what were your expectations?
I applied because someone shared a video on Facebook, and when I researched it, I was impressed by MYP's partners in the industry. I didn’t get in straight away and had to be determined, jump in at the deep end and do my best not to sink. Getting a professional credit was a big thing for me and it was the intensity of the experience that was most unexpected.
Did the pressure you experienced at during the training help you in your career?
Yes! The thing you learn quickly in the industry is that time is money and production deadlines are pressure, the environment at MYP was perfect preparation for that. In terms of responsibility and pressure from a sound point of view on shoots, it meant we could come back with no audio if I did not perform properly which made it a good step into high level responsibility. It taught me that this is my job and if I don't do it, that’s it ... definitely a trial by fire but a great challenge.
How important is the aftercare that MAMA Youth provides?
As we all know, trying to break into the industry is hard enough and then trying to navigate it is harder still. MYP provide an excellent support network to help you move forward, even if my own career goals changed, I know there would be other jobs MYP could secure for me. It's really nice to have that support even though you get to know other people in the industry, it’s not the same as having someone in your corner no matter what.
Why do you believe that MAMA Youth is so necessary to the industry and to the young people it helps?
There's a lot of good training out there but that only goes so far, you've still got to network, they won't do it all for you and there's a lot of responsibility on you to do the right things but with MYP you've got the right backing. Their network is extensive and can ensure you get that start and because the training is so intense employers know that you’ve already proved you can work hard. You’ve really got to be passionate enough to survive MAMA Youth but without it you’d come away not knowing how to take those next steps. It’s tough in broadcast as a whole, but it’s a solid career path and well worth the commitment.
Did MAMA Youth give you increased confidence?
Definitely, I know about sound and will talk about it happily for hours but on set all the director cares about is if it works. Understanding how your role fits in has helped as much as working at a professional pace and on an actual TV show. This gave me the fundamentals, knowledge and insight to move on with confidence.
What are your future aspirations?
I'd love to mix films or be a sound designer and be in a creative role on a big entertainment show. I now feel my career goals are potentially possible and that’s because of MAMA Youth project turning aspirations into options.