In this series which appears in In Focus Magazine from The Guild of Television Camera Professionals, Jo Hodges and Liz Bell, camera operators and co-founders of Fusion Film and TV answer questions from readers and fellow camera operators on industry issues and give advice where needed.

In addition to camera operating/supervising and running their production company, Jo and Liz are both qualified transformative life coaches who work specifically with those in the media. You can read more about them and their work here.

Q1. I work with a predominantly male OB crew and have become used to and mostly oblivious to the sexist jokes and banter. Recently, a new guy joined though and was shocked by what he heard and asked if I minded. This really bothered me because, of course, I mind. So I’m worried that I have now become an enabler by not speaking up and calling them out on it?  I just don’t know what I can do without walking away from the job or running the risk of saying something and not getting booked on it again?

Well, this is a tricky one! It’s clear that the banter and jokes are unacceptable, but how can we address it without jeopardising our work or being seen as, and I’m using air quotes here, no fun or overly sensitive? It’s unfortunate that being a thoughtless ar*e often seems less of a concern than being labeled as overly sensitive. However, we need to consider the nuances and complexities involved, as the TV industry comprises different generations and backgrounds. Both sides need to understand each other to encourage a change in attitudes.

In your specific situation, I would suggest finding someone you can talk to who could speak with the main culprits and let them know that their behaviour is making other crew members uncomfortable. Most people don’t intend to make others feel bad, but there is a trend of dismissing those who voice their concerns as “woke,” which I personally find extremely unhelpful!

Humour can be a good defense when feeling uncomfortable, so you can try making your point without getting angry or overly emotional, in the hopes that it resonates with others. Nobody should feel that they will lose work for not tolerating things that feel wrong. Ideally, most production managers would be willing to have a conversation about it, even if you don’t want to file a complaint or get anyone specific into trouble. They should be willing to listen and work together to find a solution. Unfortunately, these behaviours often stem from bad habits and outdated attitudes. However, that’s no excuse. Productions are generally interested in improving these issues, so taking a leap and trusting your team by talking to someone you feel comfortable with could potentially lead to a happier atmosphere. –  Liz

Q2. I’ve been freelancing for a few years now and things are going well, but I’d like to enhance my online presence. Honestly, I have no idea where to start. Will it really help me promote my business, and how do I begin?

Unfortunately, having a strong online presence is crucial for most businesses nowadays. It’s an excellent way to network and reach your target market. While social media might seem daunting, there are plenty of ways to promote your business without being a social media expert. If you’re short on time, you might consider outsourcing to affordable marketing agencies or a friendly freelancer. However, if you’d like to give it a try yourself, here are some suggestions:

  1. Start with a website: Having a website for your business is essential. Create a simple site with information about your business, product photos, and booking or contact details.
  2. Use online directories: Take advantage of platforms like Google My Business. Listing your business in relevant online directories can enhance your professionalism and legitimacy. You can also ask your clients to leave reviews.
  3. Blogging: Start a blog where you can share interesting content about cameras, photography, and industry trends. This helps establish your authority in the field and attracts potential customers.
  4. Social media: While social media can be intimidating, it’s a fantastic way to connect with potential customers. You don’t have to be an expert—begin by creating a profile on LinkedIn and then consider joining Instagram, Facebook or Tik-Tok. Try to choose the platform according to where your clients hang out. Share product photos, and interesting articles, and engage with your followers. It should feel natural and not forced!

Don’t worry if you’re not an immediate social media pro. There are numerous ways to promote your business online. Remember, consistency is key. Regularly update your website, blog, and social media profiles to keep your audience engaged. Good luck with your online journey! – Liz

Q3. I’m struggling to see my friends since starting my job as a camera assistant as I feel like I have to take everything offered and don’t want to say no to clients who are giving me an opportunity. I am so grateful to be given these opportunities but I’m really feeling lonely as my friends (most of whom don’t work in tv) are starting to not include me in their plans and it feels like I’m losing them. What can I do without risking my career progress or my friendships as it seems impossible to juggle both at the moment?

I hear you! Home life can be tough when work gets demanding, especially with TV’s crazy hours and when it comes to maintaining your social life. However, you don’t have to resort to putting your friendships on hold just because you have a busy schedule. With some effort and mindful changes, you can still prioritise your relationships while keeping up with work demands.

First and foremost, open communication is key. Talk to your friends openly about your busy schedule and the demands of your job. Let them know how much their friendship means to you and that you appreciate their understanding. This will not only avoid misunderstandings but also allow them to offer support and adjust their expectations accordingly.

Planning in advance can also help. Although it can be challenging, try to make plans with your friends ahead of time. It’s important to make room in your schedule for socialising and be mindful of the value of these connections. Instead of keeping your calendar completely free for work, schedule regular catch-up calls or monthly outings with your friends. By having specific plans, you’ll better understand the importance of maintaining those relationships and the sacrifices you might be making when work conflicts arise.

Lastly, remember to prioritise your own self-care. Taking care of yourself and managing your time effectively will help you maintain a healthy work-life balance. This, in turn, will also enable you to show up fully and be present in your friendships.

In summary, while it can be challenging, it’s possible to maintain friendships while juggling a demanding career. Through open communication, proactive planning, and prioritising self-care, you can keep your friendships strong and meaningful. Don’t give up on your friends – with effort and mindful choices, you can strike a balance that works for you all. – Jo