Sunday, 13 January 2013

Cat That Got The Dream - Part 6

Kate Williams, Vision Engineer. 

What was your dream?

From an early age, my main dream was to be involved in the television industry, probably because I wanted to meet the stars! But also, I dreamt of having a family. That stemmed from my childhood too. My mother had depression  so in a way, I wanted to create the family I thought I never had.

When did the dream form in your mind?
It wasn't until I was 15 or 16 that I first saw behind the scenes at a television studio. Prior to that I was thinking, I’ll become a teacher because that’s what my parents did. I couldn't see a way in. I thought you had to be special and that opportunities in television didn't come to people like me.

My uncle John worked as a BBC Film cameraman and when I was little I used to ask him how television pictures were created but it never occurred to me to ask him how I could  get into the industry. He lived in Birmingham and we lived in Bristol. Once a year mum and dad would have a catch up with John and his wife and on this one occasion, when my parents came back,  they said, “right, pack your things. Uncle John’s going to take you around the studios - tomorrow.” I remember thinking, but I’ve got school tomorrow!

When I went into this studio I was absolutely amazed. I immediately knew this is what I wanted. This wasn’t ‘work’. This was fun. I was amazed that these were normal, ordinary people from different backgrounds all working together and I thought, I want to be part of this.  

I would phone up the crew and ask, what’s going on in the studios this weekend? Then I’d jump on a coach, couldn’t afford the train, and I’d spend the weekend there. It was these guys that told me about Ravensbourne College (a broadcast TV training college). 

I had a lot of dramas getting to my interview for that college, problems with my portfolio, missing my coach negotiating the tubes, which I’d never done before but honestly,  it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t get in. This was where I was meant to be.

What were the practical steps you took to realising your dreams?
Ravensbourne was definitely a major step although, I hit a lull when I graduated because even thought while you’re there, you have a great time when everyone leaves, they go off in different directions. I didn’t really have a direction.

My first job was in post production which wasn’t an area I particularly wanted to work in. I didn’t want to be making teas and coffees. I felt that I was wasting time doing that but knew it was a necessary evil. After some time though, I started to think about how I could move nearer to a studio environment.

In 1997 I joined Pearson TV which had a transmission facility and studios. Channel 5 was broadcast from there so it was nearer to live television. It was kind of daunting too because suddenly I had the title ‘engineer’!

At the same time my relationship was not particularly brilliant but that step into Pearson’s kick started my attitude to my private life. It gave me a real confidence boost because I was much nearer where I wanted to be. A few months after joining Pearson’s, I ended my marriage. Within a week I had my own place, my own possessions. It all happened so fast, it was like there was this energy pushing me from behind. It was like my private life was catching up with my career.

When I met Marcus and I remember thinking, Oh my God. I can see us being together forever. It happening scarily early in the relationship. Literally within 3 months, I was pregnant. That was 13 years ago and we’re still together with four children.

 How did you finally make the transition from Pearson’s to working on live outside broadcasts?
After Pearson’s I went freelance and ended up working at the same place as Marcus, at the Maidstone studios.  Not long after, I had my second child. When I found out I was expecting my third, we had to make some big life choices. We’d remortgaging the house to clear a debt then Marcus discovered there were redundancy notices going around work. We thought to ourselves, we are in really dodgy situation here so when Marcus was asked to set up an office for his old boss near Manchester, we decided it’d be a great opportunity. His family are up here. It meant we could get help with the children, it would be cheaper, it ticked a lot of boxes but I wasn’t sure what I’d do work-wise then one day, Marcus said, you know, I reckon you could  do the job I do. He was a vision engineer for outside broadcasts.

I tagged along with him to some outside broadcasts.  He took me through the equipment then I went on a couple of OBs with him and it went from there. My confidence grew and so did my client list.
Now, I work mainly on premiership football.  I’ve also had some truly unique experiences . I went to Africa for a month with the BBC which was incredible both professionally and  personally. I also worked at Wimbledon and the Olympics.

What would life be like if you hadn’t realised your dreams?
I find it difficult to imagined. Perhaps I would have made the best of it, concentrated on the family as a stay- at-home mum and found my fulfilment that way.

What advice do you have for someone looking to realise their dreams?
Always aim for the sun. If you don’t, you won’t get as high as you possibly can. My late mother told me that and it will stay with me for the rest of my life. If you have a dream always keep it in your sights

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