In Episode 4 of the THIS IS HOW podcast from Season 2, we spoke to Carl who works as the Head of Content & Social for Europe and the Middle East for the NBA. You can listen to the episode here but for those who fancy a read, or might be hard of hearing, the full transcript is below.
Zoe You’re listening to THIS IS HOW a podcast about people forging digital careers, the people who are taking the time to figure things out,
Will Whether you’ve just left school, college or uni, well or you’re already in a job but you’re not feeling it, we made a podcast series full of tips, ideas and free advice from people who’ve been on similar journeys, changed things up and gone on to work in digital roles with some of the most interesting brands in the UK.
Zoe I’m Zoe Mallett, I’m a life coach and radio show host. My coaching focuses on helping people figure out where they are, where they want to be and then we work out how we’re going to get them there. I also have a radio show on Foundation FM which allows listeners to message in with all their problems and my guests and I offer our professional advice and tips live on a mix with some bangers.
Will I’m Will Stowe, proudly from Hackney, an ear and shoulder to those around me. I work for SNKRS as a co-host on SNKRS Live, we have regular live streams to talk all things sneaker culture. I also write poetry, make music and throw parties in my spare time.
Will All right. So we are here today and we have a special guest who goes by the name, I’m going to say it properly, Carl Fee-no-cario, was that good?
Carl Very close, very close! Finocchiaro, Finocchiaro.
Carl Come on mate!
Zoe You did it so well the first time!
Will I know, I’m getting stage fright, so I’m not saying it correctly.
Zoe So Carl we always ask our guests to prepare two truths and a lie because we feel it helps us and the listeners get to know you a little bit more. So you’ve prepared three things and we’re going to try and guess which one is the lie. Let’s go!
Carl All right. So I walked in on Arséne Wenger in the bathroom, I’ve crawled through a snake infested tunnel in Australia, and I have a Premier League medal for 100 Appearances.
Zoe What was happening in the bathroom when you walked in? Can you disclose that?
Carl What do you think happens in the bathroom?! (laughs) What are you doing in the bathroom mate?! Probably the same thing Arséne was doing! How much detail do you want?!
Will It’s a kid’s show guys keep it PG.
Zoe (laughs) I feel like the snake one is true.
Will I feel like that’s too typical, like I’m in Australia, seen a spider, seen a snake… Like c’mon!
Carl (laughs) I once punched a kangaroo, yeah yeah yeah!
Will Do you know what I mean?! Well, maybe he’s playing us?
Zoe Hmmm, maybe?
Will I believed the 100 Appearances.
Zoe Yeah, can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Carl The 100 Appearances? So do you know any Arsenal footballers from the past? So do you know who Francis Coquelin is? He plays for Villarreal and somehow, I’m not sure, but I ended up with his 100 Appearances Premier League medal – I don’t think he wanted it. So I now have it, it’s just up over there.
Zoe OK, that’s quite a cool story. I think the snakes the lie yeah…
Carl Arséne Wenger’s bathroom?! Mate you got to be kidding me?! You know, I’m never going to walk in on the boss. (laughs) I wish it were true! Arséne is a lovely, lovely man but mate I’m not going near his hotel room, are you kidding me?! (laughing)
Will I though you was talking about his changing rooms or something?!
Carl Nah mate! Nah mate! (laughs)
Zoe So what happened with all the snakes?
Carl Well, I had to pull a cable for this camera position right at these racetracks in the middle of Australia and no one told me that there was a snake infested tunnel. So I just went through dragging my cable and then over the tannoy, so it’s a big loudspeaker, they said, “Can that idiot in the black shirt get away from that snake infested tunnel” and I went “What?!” And then the comms came over “I think they’re talking about you!” and I’m like “I’m positive they’re talking about me! They’re 100 percent talking about me!” (laughs) And snakes back home are no joke right? They’re no joke, they kill you! So, let’s just say I didn’t crawl back through it!
Zoe What did you do?! I would have just panicked!
Carl I’m not particularly put off by creepy crawlies that bad, if someone had told me while I was in it, I would have panicked, but the fact I got out with my little cable and everything was good, I was chill about it. (laughs) But yeah, I didn’t go back through the tunnel!
Zoe Yeah – at least you got the cable though!
Carl Yeah, I’ve got a cable through!
Will All right, cool! Thank you for joining us today Carl! If you could tell us, you know, what’s your job title and break it down for us.
Carl Yeah, yeah, no probs at all, thanks for having me on guys. My job title, I’m the current Head of Content & Social at NBA Europe, that’s only quite recent. Before that I was the Head of Content Production, but I’m taking on an expanded remit, looking after social media as well this year, so that would be basically all the content that goes across any of our owned and operated social platforms across Europe. So we’ve got Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and on Facebook and Twitter, there are regional accounts, so we’ve got six per different regions. One of the challenges of our region is all the different languages. So it’s quite, quite a few accounts out there that we’re looking after and we need to service. And of course, we’ve got a YouTube channel as well.
Will Sick sick. So if you could just talk us through like a normal day for you, what you get up to..
Carl There aren’t too many normal days I tell you what! Quite often a lot of the time I’m coordinating a lot of things. I come from a production background so I used to be like properly in edit suites all the time and doing that kind of stuff. This is the first job I’ve had where I’m not, where we’ve got an external production company does it, so a lot of what I do in the in the day is keep them ticking along with all the things we have to do. A lot of meetings about what content is coming up, and then if I can, do a bit of forward planning as well on what content do we want to do, like you got to be you’ve got to be always thinking, you know, months out. But in sport, the churn is so high, you’re often dealing with what’s happening tomorrow or two days time. So it’s hugely reactive and you days can vary a lot. Like last night Giannis Antetokounmpo won the finals and was the finals MVP so straight away you day shifts first thing in the morning and then extraordinarily tired.
Zoe How many pieces of content do you put out per week on average?
Carl Well that’s a tricky one! (laughs) That’s a tricky one because right now I think we’re putting out, what we are actually originally generating from this production company and like original content right now, because we haven’t haven’t been looking after social for that for that long, we’re putting out three to four bits a week. But when you layer in all the other things that you do, like, what’s a piece of content, is it a graphic, you know, like we’re putting out, you know, ten, fifteen postsa day on Instagram, you know, if we’re live tweeting a match, you know, we can have, I mean a game, so I’m still in football mode! When you’re live tweeting a game, you can have like 30 tweets that night, so there is a lot like the flood of posts across all our social platforms and then the content we distribute, oh mate, you’re putting out a 100 pieces a day, really and it’s very similar to how it was at Arsenal in that respect.
Zoe How many people then are involved in creating up to 100 bits of content a day?
Carl A fair few. So on our side at the NBA, we’ve got myself and another producer, we’re about to expand and add on another two producers because we want to increase that volume, we want to increase our original content output, so we’re going to move up to having four people. We’ve got an edit staff and producers at our offsite production team, they’ve got about four editors that are pretty much assigned to us all the time, a sound mixing studio there that is on call. But they’re not just waiting for us to send them stuff, a graphic designer as well there, and then on the social side, we’ve got six community managers, plus two overseeing community managers, plus another social guy in-house who looks who’s our Head of Social, who sits under me. So I’ve lost count of how many people that is?! I think it’s about 15 or something like that!
Zoe So the NBA is American – what do you do from like your teams within the UK now?
Carl It’s a good question. So the NBA is the mothership and they’ve got a huge office in New York and an incredibly impressive installation in New Jersey. And from there, you’ve got 80, 90 per cent of the operation right, for the league. But, you know, the NBA knows it has to internationalise, right? So we’ve actually got regional offices all around the world, and our job is to connect on a more regional level. So for us, for for my particular part of the company, my job is engaging with those fans, making content for them, getting them as part of our social media family, whatever you want to call it, communities, the more appropriate word. We’ve got our partnerships team who will be driving partnerships with local sponsors and things like that, brands that don’t exist in the US and do localised sponsorship deals here, because the NBA brand is super duper strong and everyone knows about us throughout Europe, even if you’re not an NBA fan, you’ve definitely heard of us. And that that model is actually replicated all around the world. You’ve even got a media distribution team who looks after how our rights are sold throughout the region, communications department looking after how the the broader media interacts with us, so if BBC want to do a story or whatever, they come through our regional office to to access. And also fan events and things like that, we haven’t been able to put any on in the last 18 months, but those fan events, again, they’re regionally managed. So the NBA sits back there in the US and oversees everything. We’re in constant contact with them, but we’ve got our regional objectives which feed into the bigger picture, which is growing the game.
Zoe So you studied in Australia, what was it that you studied?
Carl Well, I’m showing my age here, right, but I did a Bachelor of Media. So these days at uni, it’ll be split up into digital media, visual media, all that kind of stuff, but back in the olden days, it was just a Bachelor of Media and then you kind of pick, you might call it a Major over here? I don’t know what you call it, but let’s say the focus, and my focus was always in video production. Basically, they give you a big, broad degree and then you kind of pick – do you head off into writing? Do you do you head off into video production? Do you head off into this and that? And I lent into video production. Nowadays, that would be it’s own degree I’m fairly certain, like digital media’s it’s own degree and these kind of things.
Zoe And what was it about doing media that you kind of that drawed you to it?
Carl I have always wanted to work in TV and sports TV, I just wanted to be a part of it. I was growing up like a huge consumer of sport, I love sport, I love watching sport, I could watch literally almost any sport and enjoy it, barrgolf…
Zoe How come not golf?
Carl You guys do the opposite – what’s right with golf?! (laughs)
Zoe Some of them wear like cute jumpers!!
Will (laughs) Yeah, cashmere jumpers and cool polos as well!
Carl (laughs) Right, well I think it’s a hobby that they’re just selling off as a sport, basically! (laughs)
Will So what was your your media course like?
Carl Oh mate, it was a little bit loose, like the first couple of uni, I don’t think I was the best student, that’s for sure. But the course was awesome because it was, there was a lot of, and I took all the creatively focussed courses so like creative writing, I did drama and acting and things like that, so it was all stuff where you’re surrounded by creative people and you’re doing that kind of stuff, where you’re watching movies and analysing the sound, the subtext and all that kind of stuff. And writing a lot of essays, which I thought at the time was a waste of time writing essays, but in the end that is, like what a bedrock skill that’s become, you know, because that’s what life is like formulating arguments for things, right? And that’s what an essay is, it’s just practising putting together an argument to prove a point and essay writing at the time feels so tedious but then you get to the end of it, it’s probably sunk in, you know how to formulate an argument and you advance your writing skills.
Zoe And what was your journey after graduating?
Carl Journey after graduating was that, like a lot of people, you get out of uni and you’re like, oh, wow, this is scary! You look in, in the olden days, you look at a newspaper and you’re looking for for jobs, here it’s so much easier to to find jobs and the way it all works makes it simpler I think these days. But you’re just going through everything which might suit you, so I was looking through the job ads, all the rest of it and you’re like oh is that kind of me, and eventually I took a job as a Media Planner Buyer. And that’s because you see media in the titles, “oh yeah that’s me, I did a media degree”. (laughs) Little did I know it was a bit more toward the advertising sector where you get like a client would have X amount, and this is my first job out of uni right, X amount of million dollars, they want to reach a target demographic and you go back with the advice like, hey, put billboards up here, buy two pages in a magazine, buy some ads in this popular TV show, all this kind of stuff. But truth be told, I absolutely hated it. And when they called me in to extend my probation, I said nope, I’d rather just leave at the end of the week, yeah, see you later, guys! (laughs) Which, they were shocked! Because, you know, this was a reputable firm as well and I was just like, nah, it’s not for me because that thing about creativity, right, there wasn’t that part of the job.
Will When you quit, did you know what you wanted to do?
Carl Yeah, I kind of did. Well, first thing I knew it wasn’t that, and I knew I had to look a bit harder for what it was I wanted to do, but, yeah, I knew that I needed a job or at least I needed to try to get a job which had some form of creative output because, you know, you do all that stuff at uni, you’re, you know, a creative person, you got ideas and you’re sat there booking advertising space – and it just wasn’t wasn’t for me. So I thought, I’m young, you know, you know, you’ve got to take a risk, maybe yeah that’s what you’ve got to do when you’re young like, you know, you don’t have kids, you don’t have mortgages and all that, so you know you know what I’m gonna have a swing here and concentrate on getting the job I really want.
Zoe And then what happened after you quit?
Carl After I quit, I applied for every job under the sun. I applied for all sorts of jobs, not all sorts of jobs, all sorts of jobs that I wanted to do, like the Weather Channel in Australia, you know, working in production there, all these kinds of things. I got a couple interviews and loads of knockback letters, I’ve got a stack of knockback letters at home and your confidence wavers. And I got to, I was getting pretty down about it, and I said to my dad, cause I was good at maths at school, I said, you know what, f-this, when I hit 150 rejections I’m going to become an accountant and that’s it. And I got to 126! (laughs) So I was 24 job applications away from being an accountant just cause I was like maybe this aint for me, this is a joke. But 126th application I got a job as a production assistant, which in the video production world is the lowest of the low rungs on the ladder.
Zoe What advice would you give to a young person who’s in that stage, of just applying and applying and then not hearing anything back?
Carl Yeah, advice is make looking for a job, your job, Make it a part of your routine. Like, you get up and you checking. You’re on it and you’re on it and you’re on it. That has to be it, because the opportunities are kind of fleeting and you’ve got to be dedicated in terms of, and nowadays it’s so much easier, you can just check every single day, refresh, refresh, get yourself across all the media feeds you can and just keep refreshing. Check all like, I used to work for Arsenal, they’ve got an Arsenal jobs Twitter feed that barely anyone knows about right and they’re advertising roles there. So just hunt around, find out who all the places are that you want to apply for. They’ve got like clicks, interested in jobs, you know, ITV all these places have these have these things. So make it your job, all right maybe, you maybe don’t do 8 hours a day of it, that could be soul destroying! But you wake up in the morning, have a cup of coffee, you smash out two hours of like let’s have a look at what jobs I want to apply for, and then chase it because you just got to keep hammering away.
Zoe Can you just tell us about your production assistant job like? What that kind of consisted of?
Carl In layman’s terms, it consists of doing all the jobs no one else wants to do or has the time to do. So man I was getting people lunch, I was sticking stickers on labels if I had to do it, if they needed to pack up the kit truck, I’m packing it all up. It was a motorsport, a company that did motorsport, so if some of our equipment came back from the racetrack, muddy or dirty, I’d just sit there and clean it, makes cups of teas and coffees and all sorts of things. I did anything they asked me to do, “you type something up?”, “sure I’ll type something up!”. We didn’t do transcriptions, but literally anything that I was asked to do, which again, you know, now I’ve been around for a while, every person in a production environment is important. Like, I truly believe that that entry level production assistant, they’re important, they’re an important cog in this, because if they’re not doing their job, you hamper the next person up the chain. Again, I hate that kind of look at things, but the next team mate, they maybe can’t do their job as well. So, it’s all superimportant.
Zoe And what did you learn in that production role?
Carl Biggest learning, from a just technical production sense, I learnt how to put TV shows together by watching and watching, like you, I wasn’t a great university learner, I don’t know what the percentage is obviously, but there’s probably a large percentage of people that don’t learn well from someone standing up and talking at them, I’m probably one of those, I need to be in the mix and learning and looking and asking questions. And so I had a front row seat for how TV was made and I would just sit there and I’d ask and I’d ask and I’d ask and absorb it all. And I used to go on what’s called OB trucks, which is the outside broadcast vans, I used to travel across Australia in these vans, with all their equipment, you unload at a racetrack, you rig the racetrack up, and the whole journey I would just sit there and drill the OB manager who was also our technical director, about how everything worked. I just kept asking questions because you got this expert sitting next to you, driving it’s going to take you two days to get to Adelaide from Sydney, you got a lot of time! You do talk a lot of shit too, but in the middle there’s a good chance to learn. And then from a personal point of view, I suppose being gutted from the 126 applications makes you just like I’m just not going to stuff this up! And you just approach every single job, like even the most minute jobs, with this I’m not just going to do this crappy job, I’m going to do the best job of this crappy job. And then you just, I just threw that into literally everything and that became a habit. So that’s just what you end up doing. Everything you do, you just give it your all, even if it is a crappy job, because there is loads of crappy jobs that you go to even as you go up the ladder, there’s crappy jobs you got to do. But you give it your all pretty much.
Zoe What kind of tips would you give to somebody who’s maybe just got that that first job, it’s not exactly what they wanted it to be, but they know that they’re going to learn a lot,
Carl My advice would 100 percent be, there’s two parts to it, first of all you don’t realise in the moment how important doing all those little functions well is. So just make sure you’re nailing it, it might not be what you want to be, but you’re on step one of the journey. Like you don’t get to pick and choose on step one that’s just not how life works and particularly our industry is a bit unforgiving like that. You’ve got to prove that you can perform other functions before you get to do anything else. So that would be one piece of advice. Another is always act in a professional manner. You know, you work with some some seasoned pros out there and if you’re mucking about and all the rest of it, because we do have a very word of mouth industry, like we work on recommendations, “ah they’re great work, work with them!”, you won’t go too far. And then always, just the key is, and there’s a piece of advice I think I wrote for this podcast was to make sure you’re good to be around, be positive, be a really positive collaborator. Even if you hate making some person you don’t like a cup of coffee, just just don’t show it, put a big grin on your face and get through it. Because people like to work with, people they like to work with, if you know what I mean if that makes sense. So be that person, be that’s that person that people want to collaborate with because even if you’re underperforming from a, not underperforming, let’s just say, behind from a skill point of view, people want to help you if you’re a good person and you’re really collaborative. People will identify that, hey, that person’s got something about them, you know, they’re bringing positive energy and that’s what draws people and makes other people, the old dudes like me want to help you and elevate you. If you come in like I can’t be asked because I’ve got to do this and I really want to be an editor, why should I make a cup of coffee? You’re in big trouble.
Carl Life lessons from Carl! (laughs)
Carl You’ve been told! (laughs)
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Will So Carl, if you can tell us how you came to learn to edit.
Carl Yeah, look, as I was saying before, I watched a lot of editing, everybody watches TV and content, that’s just life and I really wanted, because I’d got myself into production coordinating, so, going on loads of shoots, preparing equipment, doing that kind of stuff, but it still wasn’t quite enough creativity for me. So I was like no man, I wanna edit, so I begged and begged this producer to kind of show me just a basic few buttons on the edit suites we were using. And yeah he said “alright, I’ve got this job no one else wants to do you want to do it?” and I said, yes! It was a powerboat racing video, so the powerboat racing team wanted me to make, do you know, anything about powerboat racing?! (laughs)
Zoe No, I’ve never heard of it. (laughs)
Carl Neither did I, and I cut a promo about it! (laughs) And they just wanted a little thing made for them and so I made it and I think just because, I think it’s the thing with editing is you’ve got to have a certain feel for it, like we call it with camera people you call the eye, like if someone’s got the eye, you know like yeah, man, they’re seeing it, that’s a nice frame that they’ve got. It’s the same with editing, if you got that timing, and I think I had enough time in from maybe watching so much, that my first edit was all right, and he was like alright, I’ll give you another one. And then that’s how you go, that’s how it went.
Will And how confident were you at the time when you were doing it?
Carl Not confident at all! (laughs). No, no, come on, you’re young man! So you’re just like, what the hell, I’ll give it a swing! And watch it back a thousand times and all the rest of it, and when you enjoy it, like you’re young so you’re getting all hyped about your edits “oh, this is sick, it’s sick!” Little do you know that, if I watched it now I’d probably cringe, right?! But at the time you’re just hyped off it, “oh the music’s hitting at the right moment!” and you’re just totally gassed off it. So yeah, I didn’t know what I was doing, which is probably a good thing because I was just excited, but I was really happy with it and I wasn’t stressed or anything like that.
Zoe What advice would you give to somebody who is thinking about learning to edit?
Carl Oh man, there’s never a better time to learn how to edit, you can download Premier Pro now from your home and be editing within twenty minutes, it’s just so accessible. And just believe me about the reps thing, like there’s no harm in just going out, having a bit of fun, shooting some stuff with your phone, testing it out. I mean, the other thing people do is that there’s so many sources of video online, you can just be be practising your cuts, you know, download a couple of videos, you can get better so quickly, there’s never been more tools out there. But I find all those tutorial kinds of things, maybe you’ve got to at least be comfortable with a tool, know what you’re doing and then go, oh, yeah now I want to put on a vision effect, now I want to do a picture and picture or whatever it is. But yeah, there’s there’s no hurdles for anybody starting now to to get into editing at all.
Will All right, cool, so we’re going to take a bit of a delve back into Carl’s journey and we want to talk to you about moving to England and what was it like starting again?
Carl It was soul destroying, it was like back to that hundred, like you’re measuring up so much stuff, right, you know, you’ve got the weather, you’ve got all this kind of stuff.
Will You’re so honest!
Carl Aw mate, it was tough, it was really, really tough to get to get used to it all. But, you know, I was, by the time I left Australia I was really experienced producer, I was working on V8 Supercars, which is the highest level of domestic motor sport we have. And then here I land in the UK, first thing they tell me when I had a contact that I asked for advice, I said “what’s your advice for getting started in the UK?” and it was just as the global financial crisis hit and their advice was “go back home to Australia”. Cheers mate! Thanks for the pep talk. I called the BBC they were like we just laid off about twenty editors, so now’s not a good time. Ah, this is going well and then eventually I think I went, I got a CV or something into the local BBC, so BBC Cambridgeshire, because I was living in Cambridge at the time, and then I started back again with editing. And that’s why, you know, when I talk to you guys, I’m kind of big on having that one anchor skill because particularly as a producer, a bit of producing is like knowing people and having contacts and getting things moving. An editor can edit anything, you could say, hey, Carl, go cut horse racing, and sick, I can go do that. And, you know, it’s a really transferable skill, you know, it’s a hard skill as opposed to the soft skills of producing. And so I actually had to go back to the BBC I did two shifts gratis, so that means for free, because they wanted me to make sure I was what I said it was, so there you go, you’ve got your CV, years of TV shows, editing, producing, and I still had to be humbled and go in and do a couple of shifts for free. And then that kind of got me going, but there wasn’t a lot of shifts, certainly not enough to sustain yourself.
Will Could you talk to us about your Arsenal job and how that happened?
Carl Yeah man, 100 percent, because it’s a cool story. To make ends meet I was also filming what do you call them? Just call them presentations from a from a legal perspective that had to be filmed so that, you know, if if there was something shee-wif being said to the crowd, they had a legal recording to prove it. So that’s about as low as I could go, not saying it’s bad work at all, I’m not saying that, I’m saying from where I was that to what I was doing, it was a bit tough for me. And I’ve been, like I said, I made finding a job my job so I was applying every single morning and I got a call-back from Arsenal. I’d applied for an editor role and they called me and said, do I want to apply for the producer role? I was like, mate, 100 percent! Tell me about it. And they said, oh, it’s producing magazine shows. I said, that is literally what I did for motorsport in Australia. Back that up with the fact I’m a huge football fan and an Arsenal fan, I was ready to go, I was absolutely ready to go. So I went and did the job interview. I did round one, which is intimidating then, you know, you go into Arsenal in this big old boardroom. So at Arsenal, I don’t know if you know, but they bought in the new offices, they brought the boardroom from Highbury over panel by panel, so this big old wooden boardroom, this huge table, you know, it’s epic! You sit across there, you know, you’re desperate for the work and all the rest of it. So I did my interviews there, did another interview and just the reason I’m going to this is just kind of to because I think for young people it’s important to know to prepare for the interviews. Like prepare heaps, prepare more than you think you need to prepare because it impresses people. And I went in, I’d become, Arsenal TV online is what they had at the time, I subscribed to it, I looked at all their stuff, I watched it all back, I wrote a series of ideas for things we could do around Arsenal. So, I mean, look back at the list now, it’s unoriginal, but I had came there with four pages of ideas. I’d watched everything I had to watch and and I blew their socks off, they told me that because I was the only one that actually had prepared, and I consider that like standard prep. But apparently people just walk in, and now I’m on the other side as an interviewer, a lot of people don’t prepare, it’s quite shocking. All you have to do is a bit of homework and you walk in there really knowing and it impresses people, even if you’re maybe not as good as the other person, but you prepared more, you know, I always lean towards the people who prepared. So yeah, long story short, I had tickets to the Arsenal game on the Sunday, we had a game, it was a friendly match, the Emirates Cup against Celtic. I had the cheapest seats I could get because, again, I wasn’t earning much money. And then on Monday morning, pick up the phone – you’ve got the Arsenal job, when can you start? I’m a freelancer, so I start tomorrow! Perfect. So I came into the office on Tuesday, now, I had a shift at the BBC on Wednesday, I didn’t want to let them down, I said, listen, I have one commitment I want to finish my time cause that they were good to me. So finished my time there on Wednesday. But in the background, I had to prepare for a shoot on Thursday with the entire first team recording the opening title sequence for a show which I had to think of the name of in between Tuesday morning and getting on set on Thursday morning. I had to come up with the name of the show, what we were going to shoot, what we were going to do, the players, what lines we were going to record and all that stuff. And yeah, turned up to the stadium on Thursday morning – so I was in the cheap seat on Sunday, by Thursday morning I was in the bowels of the stadium filming lines with the players.
Zoe What was it like being around the players? How did you need to act? What did you need to be like?
Carl You know what? I’m so fortunate, I’ve never really gotten starstruck. I think at first, I’ll be straight up with you, at first you want them to be mates, right? You’re like, oh mate, I just want to be cool and make everyone laugh and be their friends and all the rest of it. But that didn’t last very long for me, I’m generally a bit matey and jokey anyway, so it wasn’t kind of a huge problem for me. But what you’ve got to just switch gears and say this is normal people and they’re your colleagues and once you do that, it’s cool, like you just talk to them like a colleague – like hey, Theo, alright mate, hanks for coming over, let’s get these lines recorded nice and quick, we’ll get you out of here on time. Just like you would with a colleague
Will Theo Walcott, you mean?
Carl Yeah, yeah, Theo. Because you know what the weirdest thing is, I always remember this, is that when you’re a fan, you call them by their surnames all the time, Walcott and Arshavin and all that, and then when I started, he’s Andre, you’d never called him Arshavin! And so I always called players by the first time because I remember Bukayo as a kid, you know, I had little Bukayo coming up through the ranks. And I always do their first names now. So that’s just something that changes.
Zoe What were the kind of main skills then that you learnt at your time at Arsenal?
Carl I learnt so much in my time at Arsenal! The most relevant one, I think, especially for now, is understanding social media, especially at the start, you know, coming over from tele, you’re a bit of a TV snob, I don’t think you get this anymore, by the way, but it was learning to kind of respect and understand social, reading to the analytics of social, what it’s all about. I think that was the biggest thing I learnt because you just get better and better at producing. It’s like what I said with reps, like my first shoot at Arsenal and my last shoot Arsenal was a lot better, I was a lot more relaxed, had more control of the set, as a producer, you’ve got to “hey cameraperson are you ready over there”, you know. So I got better at that point, but what I learnt at Arsenal was, that’s really relevant is about social. And then also about managing people because I went from managing myself, maybe you’d have a production assistant too, by the end of it, I think I had maybe about 13 or 14 people. And then you’re managing up as well, managing all these different conversations that are coming through you as the Head of Video Content. So those two things would be the the things I learnt.
Will So we’re coming towards the end and we’re going to talk through your CV. So just imagine me and Zoe as your next employers!
Zoe We could be! (laughs).
Carl Oh no! (laughs)
Will So, if you could start us with your career highlight?
Carl My career highlight, it sounds super cheesy, absolutely, I get that, but my career highlight’s always watching the younger people I’ve worked with, my colleagues, contemporaries, whatever, just go on to kick arse elsewhere. You know, I was just texting with a friend the other day who when she started at Arsenal, her first job I made her film Theo Walcott’s boots, a static object on the ground, and now she’s a DOP, which is director of photography, and that gives me more of a boost than anything else. You know, just watching people just get better and better is is the biggest kick you can get, possible, like all the work’s good, right? Again, content’s a bit, what’s the word, I hate the phrase high churn, but it lives and it goes. So it’s good, you can look at it again but watching people just kicking ass in the future is awesome. From a professional sense it’s got to be from the time at Arsenal turning club media from this really small operation to like a beast that was immensely valuable. And, you know, you can communicate to so many fans and you get to engage so many fans, that’s definitely the highlight. There’s heaps of cool stuff in the middle, like documentaries, going on tours with the team is always fun. But just in broad strokes, those are the highlights.
Zoe I love that! And what is your best piece of work?
Carl So I have gone for two because I can never make my mind up. So we did an Invincibles documentary, which was awesome, I got to interview six of the Invincibles team, including Arsene and get them in quite a reflective mood, which is cool. So they were they were really, really reflective, they gave us great bites, we got onto Sky Sports, we got it on to CNBC in the US. We had the best slot, we were gonna air after the Monaco Champions League game in 2014 and then we lost to Monaco, it was a real upset and then everyone didn’t watch it and it was, it was really tough. And then probably the other one was the Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang signing piece, signings, we were making tons of signing videos, but with Auba’s we were like, let’s really make him something bespoke, that’s kind of big and glossy, we got quite ambitious. We prepared really well for it, we did our research on Auba and what he’s into, so we had our look and feel ready to go. We filmed him that morning when he arrived from Dortmund, all in secret, all hush hush and then by the end of the day, we had him composited into quite an ornate sequence and everyone had to nail it across that whole day, like even down to how quick can we get this footage on a card back to the office to edit everyone on certain shift rotations and all sorts of stuff. And in the end, I think we raised the bar for signing videos that day. People have done, I believe, maybe better since but we were just sat back at the end of the day and lke that is just so cool! Like if you don’t get gassed off watching that, you know you need to look yourself in the mirror because that’s awesome.
Zoe Love that energy!
Carl Sorry! It is awesome. (laughs) I still look at it sometimes and think that was cool!
Will And what was your best failure?
Carl Oh man, again, you’re going to hate me, but I don’t see anything as a failure. I’ve made some pretty s**t features that didn’t go so well or where you get teed up for a feature and it just turns to crap. I had a very ill fated I interview with Scary Spice that I wouldn’t call it, I mean it was a failure in that we got nothing out of it, but wasn’t my fault. So you get all these kind of little things that don’t go to plan. But I like to think that, and it’s super cheesy I’m so sorry for not coming up with something better, but, this is just pure cheese, but I just see that every time something goes to s**t, you learn something about it, just take a learning and then it’s never really a failure, it’s a you know, it’s a bump in the road rather than a “ah well that just all went bad”. Because, you know, we’ve had kit leaks, like we accidentally leak a kit, our team did that one year.
Zoe What’s a kit leak?
Carl Ah, you know how you have a new jersy every year and it’s kind of like a big reveal and all the rest of it, so there was one year where half a frame of Aaron Ramsey in the back of a shot was wearing the kit and someone picked up on it and it leaked out. And we’re like, that is just, how the heck did the person see that?! But it was on my watch and it’s my fault then, no matter who in the team did it, it’s 100 percent my fault. So, yeah, so you make failures, but again, you know what – we didn’t do it again! (laughs) So that’s that’s what I mean, you know, it’s disappointing but you got to say, you know… And it actually it’s a good smack in the head every now and again for the team because you’re working so fast, make this, make this, get this out, get this out, that it’s important that you actually every now and again do have a humbling experience, it kind of resets everyone goes, we’ve got to just pay more attention to detail.
Zoe And lastly, what is your dream project?
Carl My dream project has been for many years of my life making sports documentaries. That’s all I’ve really wanted to do, I’ve been able to do some on Arsenal legends, on the Invincibles, so I’ve kind of done my dream project or living the dream. I supported Arsenal and worked for them, and I’m a basketball fan and I work for the NBA. So, you know, nailed that but just making more documentaries, I suppose. I like storytelling, I really like to to unearth untold sporting stories and tell them – but to be honest, people are already doing a very high level now. There’s so much good stuff you can watch in that space. But that’s all I really want to do! Humble!
Zoe You are very, very humble. What do you think? Are we gonna?
Will We might have to give him one more interview to see! (laughs). Nah I’m joking! Thank you so much Carl!
Zoe Yeah, thank you so much! It’s been so good talking to you, I’ve learnt loads, and this is so much for the listeners to kind of take away so thanks so much for your time!
Carl You’re very welcome guys!
Will You’ve been listening to THIS IS HOW created by Nominet and Livity. If you’ve enjoyed this conversation and you’re feeling inspired to develop your own digital skills, head over to thisishow.uk where you can find more information on all the helpful tips and advice shared on today’s podcast, as well as trying our new THIS IS HOW quiz to uncover more about what you’re good at and what job roles could be a good match for you.
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