Why Choose Leicester over New Zealand?

It was a while ago in November In A Nutshell that I had mentioned giving up the opportunity to watch rugby, England versus New Zealand at Twickenham.

Want to hear what trumped that?

Instead I went to Leicester. Quelle horreur! As a Northampton Saints fan, that’s a sin as there’s a healthy regional rivalry.

So why did I decide to go to enemy Territory when I could’ve seen England win against one of the best teams ever?
Remember how I said that I had made a contact, David, in the production company who works for ESPN? Well it had a lot to do with that. I’d emailed David asking if I could spend some time with the team to see how a sports broadcast works behind the scenes and he was brilliant enough to say yes.
When he suggested the 1st December, there was no way that I was going to do anything other than bite his arm off. So what if I’d been planning to go to England v New Zealand. I can see that anytime. Some work experience with a massive production company… that couldn’t wait!

Off I went to the Leicester vs Bath match.Lets say that I was slightly nervous. I didn’t really let myself think about it because I didn’t want to get scared or have too many expectations. I was looking forward to the opportunity because I was getting a valuable insight and because of what it could potentially mean.

I wanted to make a good impression especially because I’d been given the opportunity and didn’t want to make a plonker of myself. These people needed to get a great impression of me and instantly want me on their team, obviously!
I spent a lot of time with a lady called Sarah who is the production coordinator and as such a much of her job was completed previous to the match. We did meet one of the commentators former Bath full back Matt Perry and take him from his taxi to the ‘Kebab van’ studio where he was working.
Yeh, that was pretty cool!

If you watch ESPN’s coverage of rugby you will know what I’m referring to when I mention the Kebab van. It’s where the presenter and pundits chat pre and post match. So I nipped in there to see how rehearsals were going and what happened in the live broadcast. It was very interesting, not to mention cool- again!I don’t want to name drop but in order to give a complete picture Mark Durden-Smith introduced himself and seemed very friendly which helped me feel a bit more relaxed. Thank you!

Austin Healey was also present along with Ben Kay who asked to use my massive fuzzy hat to put Mark off when they went live. Of course I was happy to oblige, it did put Mark off and within minutes my hat had been on TV, result!

If we step away from my well hidden giddy rugby fan self, it was great to see how the various aspects of TV production work. It’s amazing how much hard work from so many people goes into producing one show and the various features included.

Once the game was about to start, myself and Sarah went to the Gallery which is basically a big fan which has lots of TV screens. Cool! It houses the director and various people working what comes onto the TV from the various shots available.

It was a hive of activity and hugely exciting for to see the magic happening. As someone who wants to get into the industry and who loves rugby, it was pretty brilliant to see everything going on behind the scenes.

I was slightly confused to see that there was a small camera pointing at my chest. Don’t worry, I’m under no illusions that it was the breast cam and on returning to the Gallery, I soon realised that the television match official (TMO) sits there.

The TMO is a trial concept in rugby union where the referee effectively has a second set of eyes when it comes to difficult decisions by watching replays on various angles available.

I’d previously thought that the TMO was just kept in a cupboard somewhere.Now it’d would’ve been exciting at the best of times to be sat next to the TMO but on this particular occasion, even more so. There were three red cards awarded and two yellow cards! That never happens! To see one red card is sensational but three? And I was sat next the the guy making the controversial decisions!

Unfortunately for the teams involved but it helped to understand the relationships between ESPN and Sunset + Vine, the director, camera operators, sound technicians, presenters and match officials (plus more) to deliver a brilliant show of rugby.As the game was ending I spent some time observing the lovely Sarra who reports and interviews the players and team directors.

It gave me a great opportunity to see her process of questioning, her posture, how she engaged with the interviewees, what sort of questions she was asking etc. It all helped with tips on what I do when interviewing.

The whole day was brilliant and I was massively thankful for the opportunity. After thanking S + V for the experience, I offered my services emphasising that I am interested in doing more with them if the opportunity arose.

I also mentioned that I would be available to help on their next local match between Northampton Saints and Saracens on 30 December which just so happened to be a 20 minute train ride down the road from me, at the Stadium MK.

I was happy to hear back that I was more than welcome to go down to the stadium so that’s exactly what I did.

Sunset + Vine take two
The experience yesterday was much more involved which I thoroughly enjoyed! It was a blustery day but it was great fun. I spent the morning as a runner one of the camera operators Damo.
We were taking shots of the stadium and of fans getting ready for the match. We even filmed both teams arriving. There were fans waiting… If I’ve said it oncee, I’ve said it a hundred times…cool!

It was nice to feel part of the machine but it was also great to engage with the fans who were mulling around. People tend to get a bit giddy when TV is around and it’s nice to pick up on that excitement.

For fear of sounding all mushy, it was a great thing to be a part of and gave me another piece of the puzzle to help me understand the production goings on.

I was also lucky enough to see where all the video clips are made (you’ve got to love a montage!) and then on to the Gantry which is where the analysis takes place and the commentators do their thing. Luckily for me, it just so happened to provide an excellent view of the match!

We then went on at half time to see Sarra.
She was doing a pitchside interview during half time and as the teams came back on pitch. Another great opportunity to learn from a great presenter, not forgetting that there was an awesome mascot dance off to Gangnam Style which offered much amusement!
I stayed with Sarra until after the match finished and although I would’ve loved ask her some questions, she was really busy getting on with her work. Hey, maybe next time. At least we’ve met a few times now and she could be a contact. It would be fantastic to be able to get some insight and advice from a presenter working in the field and furthermore, a woman working in quite a male dominated arena.

On the plus side, I got to chat with a very lovely chap (I’m ashamed that I can’t remember his name, sorry lovely chap!) about his role in the team and his experience so far. It’s all about people!Summing up, it was awesome and I’m shattered. I think all the excitement trying to make a good impression, along with my running for the first time in years, has taken it out of me! Not that I’m complaining. It’s well worth it and doubt is the first of many exciting opportunities.

I hope that I’ve made a good impression and that they’ve seen how genuinely enthusiastic I am but it’s been an invaluable experience none the less! I will be contacting the guys to say a big thank you and to offer my help in the (hopefully near) future.
Massive fan geek moment!
I can’t not mention that after booking Mr Kay a taxi to the station, I ended up lift sharing with him.
Yes, major cool! But not only that, he shouted me a coffee and not just any coffee. A gingerbread latte non the less! Hopefully I didn’t seem too much of a fan (although I did doff my cap to him for an impressive take on Mark D-S when they were filming a feature the first time I went down behind the scenes at Saints) but I definitely had a little moment afterwards where I took stock of how chuffed (and geeky) I felt!
New Year already?
I am getting ready for the New Year, hopefully your plans are going swimmingly? We’ve been sorting out the office (mostly the Smelly Boy has!) so that my business self can be in appropriate surroundings. I think that it looks pretty blinking fantastic, would you not agree?
I hope that you have a fantastic New Year whether you’re celebrating or not and I wish you a happy, healthy and successful time.
And for those of you who have, thank you so much for reading!

About Kerry Leese

20 something who loves to travel from Northampton embarking on a journey of self discovery. Ambitiously working towards a career in broadcasting. In love with her Smelly Boy and getting up to some random stuff.
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