A TEENAGE model could be Scotland’s very own Zoolander after taking the fashion world by storm.
Connor Newall, 18, was set to sign up as a squaddie before a chance casting in a film about knife crime gave him his big break.
He admits: “I would have never in a million years have thought I’d be doing this. I was going to join the Army, I wanted to be in the infantry on the frontlines as I thought it would be a good career for me. But my life has completely turned around.
“I’d probably be on tour of Afghanistan right now getting shot at in some dusty trench if I never became a model. I’m lucky I said aye.”
Until two years ago, he had never bothered about his style and didn’t expect to travel to some of the world’s most starstudded locations.
Now he’s modelling in the fashion hubs of New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo.
His very first time on camera, however, was quite a sombre experience — it was a role in a Scottish Government film about knife crime.
Sadly, his family knew about the devastating effects of such crime after Connor’s cousin Andrew Newall was killed in a blade attack.
He died aged 22 when he was was attacked by a gang after celebrating a friend’s 21st birthday in 1996.
Connor, from Govan in Glasgow, said: “The casting director went round seven different high schools, it wasn’t supposed to be anything big.
“But nobody knew until a year later that my cousin had been stabbed multiple times and killed.
“That’s how it all kicked off and they put me on STV and The Riverside Show, I wasn’t just acting but had actually experienced what my family had gone through.”
On the back of the film, he ended up getting an agent.
And despite his now international appeal, his modelling career all started with a distinctly Scottish flavour — a tattie scone.
Connor jokes: “I woke up one Saturday morning and was having a roll and tattie scone. My phone rings and it’s an unknown caller. It was my agent Michael.
“We met in the office, went over the contract and I signed it and went home. It all went so fast, I was in bed one minute and then a model the next. I don’t see what people see in me, so was going to hang up.
“I’m the most ‘unmodelly’ model there. When you see other models compared to myself, they are all polished. But I don’t really do that, I’m not fashionable at all.
“My favourite brands were Nike AirMax trainers, Lacoste joggies and I kind of dressed like a wee ned.
“I still kind of dress like that, I don’t dress fancy unless I’m going to town, wearing mostly just tracksuits.
“I get quite a few freebies and I’ve had a few pieces that are nice but a lot are too wild for me and so I ask my mum if she wants it.”
But mum Betty plays a much bigger role than just accepting Connor’s designer hand-me-downs. Nicknamed ‘Betty Jenner’ after Kris, the mum of The Kardashians, Betty is chief organiser for her boy.
Connor revealed: “Mum is my biggest fan, she finds photos of me that I didn’t even know were taken. Everyone in the area knows who I am because of my mum, she tells the whole world.
“Dad works in shipyards and my mum is a home help so I have a good background and I’m well-grounded. They just see it as another job.
“To my dad, if I have job and get paid for it, that’s enough for him.”
Now that he’s spending a few months of the year in New York and Los Angeles, Connor is enjoying his taste of the high life, embarking on global campaigns for G-Star and Stone Island next month.
With the whole family behind him, Connor is happy he can make everyone proud — and now he has someone else he has to keep happy.
Connor reveals: “I met a few who people have tried to be friends with me because I’m bit more successful in my life, they are interested now and they were not before.
“There are quite a few girls, I’m not going to lie, that I’ve knocked back but have my girlfriend Kayleigh now so that’s all over.”
And the attention will keep on coming as Connor stars in a nationwide BBC documentary, which is aired tonight.
In the film Scotland’s Model Teenager, Connor will be seen travelling in Europe and to New York on various assignments.
The documentary, part of BBC One’s Our Lives series, asks whether the teenager may be forced to reinvent himself — or whether his charm, unique looks and Glasgow humour can keep brand Connor alive.
Our Lives: Scotland’s Model Teenager, BBC One, 7.30pm on Monday.
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From generating programme ideas to ensuring everyone is catered for on set - you'll need creativity, industry knowledge and an eye for detail in this varied job
A programme researcher provides support to the producer and production team.
As a researcher you might:
- contribute ideas for programmes;
- source contacts and contributors;
- collect, verify and prepare information for film, television and radio productions.
The work involves organising, planning and researching everything that will happen during the programme such as who'll be interviewed, the location, if the film crew will fit, if the budget will stretch and so on.
The researcher has a responsibility for fact checking, writing briefs for presenters, and ensuring that the production adheres to appropriate legislation.
You can work on a variety of programmes or within one subject area.
The role may also be known as:
- specialist or live-footage or picture researcher;
- broadcast assistant;
- assistant producer.
The job is often seen as an apprenticeship for a producer role and a chance for ambitious recruits to show their potential.
The variety and type of work carried out by a researcher depends on individual producers and the companies that employ them.
Depending on the size and type of employer, you may carry out specific research-based tasks or you might expand into more production-based activities.
In radio, broadcasters do elements of their own programme research, assisted by the producers and researchers. Researchers in radio contribute to the development of websites that enhance programme delivery.
In television and film, researchers may be involved in a variety of activities and the role may be roughly divided into:
- factual research (checking that all the information used in making a film is accurate, such as period costume and architecture);
- picture research (examining archives for film, video and photographic material to be used in documentaries).
Typical responsibilities are extremely varied but may include:
- meeting with producers, directors, designers, presenters and writers to discuss the research needs of a programme;
- generating and developing new programme ideas;
- conveying findings accurately to others in report form and 'briefs';
- sourcing and researching facts, figures and information using the internet, film and tape archives, specialist collections, picture libraries, museums and government departments;
- assessing contributors' suitability for the programme, researching and booking appropriate people and locations;
- booking resources and facilities;
- recruiting freelance staff and negotiating fees;
- providing administrative support such as typing, answering the phone and dealing with contracts;
- briefing scriptwriters and presenters on topics, updating scripts and editing news reports;
- sourcing copyright for literary and music sources and gaining clearance for any materials used;
- negotiating broadcasting rights and producing information and fact sheets for websites;
- providing research to production staff in a clear, concise format and tracking down film, archive and video tapes;
- finding interviewees to conduct initial interviews with and getting vox-pop responses to current events from members of the public;
- directing a small shoot and carrying out straightforward editing.
- Basic rates for a junior researcher on a TV programme are around £400 for a 48-hour week.
- Researchers with experience can charge around £650 for a 48-hour week.
It's becoming increasingly common for a researcher to have to work for minimal payment, or for free, before getting a fully-paid job.
Freelance and short-term contracts are particularly common in this industry and freelance rates vary widely.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Unsocial working hours are a common feature of the job and researchers may work up to seven days a week for long periods. Work on live programmes is more predictable.
What to expect
- Employment is generally precarious. Staff jobs are extremely hard to come by and researchers are generally taken on for specific projects or programmes (often lasting no more than two or three months). To secure regular employment, you need to build up a reputation. Large corporations, such as the BBC, employ some researchers on permanent contracts.
- Researchers' work takes place in a variety of settings, ranging from typing in an office to interviewing people in the street. Documentary researchers may sometimes work undercover.
- Employment levels have shifted slightly from London to North West England. This reflects the relocation of part of the BBC's and ITV's workforce, and companies from the creative and digital sectors, to MediaCityUK at Salford Quays near Manchester.
- The work is stressful and demanding and requires a very high level of commitment. The work culture is generally informal but you may feel pressured with tight deadlines to meet.
- Travel is common and may be overseas depending on the research project.
This area of work is open to all graduates, as work experience and contacts often count for more than your degree subject. Nevertheless, a degree in one of the following subjects may increase your chances:
- broadcasting and media;
- public relations;
Graduates are preferred but relevant work experience, personal qualities, confidence and evidence of skills may compensate.
A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not essential, although a practical journalism or media course may help. Search for postgraduate courses.
Specialist knowledge and research experience may be required for specific subject areas or documentaries.
For general areas, knowledge of current affairs and the media, plus evidence of lateral thinking and creative problem solving is useful.
You will need:
- to generate new ideas and accommodate other peoples' ideas;
- to be resourceful and motivated;
- excellent written communication, interpersonal and organisational skills;
- visual thinking and the ability to be adaptable yet methodical;
- the capability to work well in a team and under pressure;
- strong IT and research skills;
- an instinct for a good story;
- confidence and patience;
- knowledge of legal and ethical principles in relation to the media and copyright, as well as health and safety procedures.
To be successful in securing freelance work, researchers also need to be skilled in self-management and self-promotion.
Many graduate researchers have previously worked in newspapers or radio (mainly as journalists) or gained experience in entry-level jobs in television, often unpaid or in the role of a runner. Therefore, pre-entry experience is seen to be vital, especially as competition for all advertised vacancies is so fierce.
Opportunities for work experience do exist but places may be limited so you'll need to be determined to succeed.
The BBC offers work experience nationally in a variety of roles, see BBC Work Experience, and many broadcasting recruitment agencies advertise short-term contracts. There are also internship opportunities listed on MediaNation.
Be prepared to network and try to get summer work experience in a research role with your local or regional press, community radio or student union publications.
If you're trying to get into freelance work, the Broadcast is a useful resource to subscribe to.
Joining communities with an interest in film, television and radio will help provide useful links and keep you up to date on current affairs within the industry. Take a look at:
Build a portfolio of everything you have contributed to, from newspaper articles to television programmes, to demonstrate your experience when approaching potential employers.
The majority of researchers work on news and current affairs programmes for:
- independent production companies;
- satellite and cable companies.
The UK's largest broadcaster is the BBC. The majority of its programmes are produced in-house but it has a statutory obligation to ensure that 25% of its commissioned programme hours are made by independent producers.
The three major players at ITV are ITC plc, STV and UTV. ITV comprises 15 regional licensees and is also required to commission 25% of its programming from the independent sector.
Channel 4, which broadcasts throughout the UK, does not make programmes but commissions them from independent production companies.
Channel 5 broadcasts across the country and makes a small number of programmes.
The 100% Welsh language channel S4C commissions all of its programmes.
Producing and broadcasting in both English and Welsh is BBC Cymru, while BBC Alba in Scotland broadcasts Gaelic programmes, made almost entirely in Scotland.
Independent production companies include HIT Entertainment and Endemol Shine UK.
There are hundreds of smaller independent companies, based mainly in London, which mostly recruit freelancers.
Commercial radio companies include:
- Bauer Radio (Kiss and Absolute Radio networks, and several stations in the North of England, Northern Ireland and Scotland);
- Global Radio (the Heart and Capital networks, Classic FM, Gold, and more);
- Wireless Group (talkSPORT, Virgin Radio UK and various local FM stations such as Peak FM and Swansea Sound).
There are numerous satellite, cable and digital broadcasters and streaming services, including:
- BT TV;
- TalkTalk TV;
- Virgin Media.
Researchers are also employed by a small number of production companies in the film industry.
To make speculative applications, consult employer listings on websites such as:
Get more tips on how to find a job.
Look for job vacancies at:
A lot of training is on the job although there are short training courses available in-house or externally. The BBC, for example, runs a number of training schemes which are advertised on BBC Academy.
Training opportunities within broadcasting companies are usually linked to operational needs.
For information on training available and a database to help those in the industry identify appropriate courses see Creative Skillset, the Sector Skills Council for the Creative Industries. Short courses and in-house training for members is provided by the Indie Training Fund (ITF), while information on workshops and training in the industry is offered by Mandy.com.
In Scotland, Screen Academy Scotland provides training for the Scottish broadcast and film industry.
For placement opportunities and information on undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Northern Ireland, visit Northern Ireland Skillset Media Academy.
City & Guilds offer VRQ's in media Techniques at Level 3. Designed for new entrants, the qualifications provide an overview of the requirements of working in the creative media industry. The certificate focuses on providing realistic information which will prepare learners for the realities of the industry and make them more employable.
There is no fixed career ladder, but the nature of the job makes it an excellent starting point for an ambitious entrant.
Career progression is achieved by working on a variety of programmes, films and stations.
Researchers in local radio may move into the national network, while those in television may go on to work on high-profile current events programmes or specialise in a particular area, such as music or stills research.
On a larger production there may be opportunities for experienced researchers to supervise a team of researchers, maintaining a high level of contact with the producer and director, and so in effect, moving into a senior researcher role.
Working as a researcher enables you to develop a good awareness of other roles in the industry.
Researchers are being employed less in some broadcasting companies, due to the introduction of assistant producers. However, it has been recognised in some areas that a researcher's skills still have an important role to play and this may mean that researchers will grow to be more specialised in future.
Currently, researchers are becoming more hands-on, involved in shooting, sound recording and even directing, alongside traditional research and increasing responsibility in programme making.
Some move into other media roles, such as journalism or other areas of production. Competition is fierce for all promotional positions.
To progress in this rapidly changing industry, you need to:
- be pro-active and willing to learn new skills;
- meet new people;
- make new contacts;
- work hard and show a firm commitment to your job.
It is a small industry so maintaining good relationships within the sector is very important. For information on careers and progression in the audio-visual industry see Creative Skillset - Job Roles.
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