BYP Interviews Nelson Adeosun
The Television Industry is a captivating field like no other. It is multifaceted, containing an array of roles, currently demanding more representation within and behind our TV shows, which includes Black creatives attempting to make their mark within it.
What is the TV industry actually like, and how can you establish yourself within such a field? I spoke to Nelson Adeosun, a producer and director who has worked within the TV industry since 2014, getting to understand his roles and his approach to creating within TV.
What do you do within the TV industry?
Nelson: I am a producer/director, to put it simply. I kind of have a few different roles depending on the opportunity, but most of the time I’d be a producer/director which means, I would either put together the logistics for a show – or actually put together the show. I mainly specialise in documentaries, factual entertainment. Those shows will range from the likes of Come Dine With Me, First Dates, serious documentaries like Damilola: The Boy Next Door for Channel 4, Uprisings with Steve McQueen coming out soon. Essentially a producer is a logistics based role: finding people, getting people to a show. A director is filming people and asking them questions.
How did you get your foot in the door?
Nelson: It’s always a hard question to answer because technically I am always getting my foot in the door. The TV industry is built on reputation and portfolio, that’s probably the biggest thing to know. That you are forever meeting new people, learning new things, and being open to new parts of the industry, companies, and even channels. It never stops. But my initial interest into TV was two things.
1. I networked. I used to work in a lab in the daytime. In the evenings, I used to work at a place called Haverstock School. They used to hire out their pitches for Football teams. One of the teams that used to play there was called Patrick Productions, who make shows like Have I Got News For You, and a few other shows. So, I used to bug those guys all the time, I used to play Football with them a couple of times. Long story short, one of the guys set me up with an opportunity at a company called Utopia. That was my first internship. I did that for 4 weeks, and that was my first taste of TV.
2. With that experience under my belt, I went on a scheme called The Network, done by the Edinburgh TV Festival for new entrants. That meant a week spent in Edinburgh, seeing all aspects of the TV industry and getting to meet so many people within the industry. So, that’s kind of how it works.
What do you do to improve your creativity?
Nelson: You’re forever learning, forever getting better, learning from people, learning more skills, learning what is good and what isn’t. So, that’s sort of the answer. What I really do to improve my creativity is just pay attention to life. A lot of the time, TV people tell you the rules of how to make TV, what can work, what can’t work. Actually, for me, I continually look at how those rules can be broken. What can I do differently? I learn from music videos, how do they shoot their things and how do they look? I learn from YouTube content, why are young people more engaged with YouTube content? I learn from long documentaries that are made in the US or other countries. What is it that they are doing differently that gives a different appreciation, or different acceptance of certain things? What rules are they using or breaking? I also learn from drama. How do you make something fake feel real? Transpose that to a documentary. I don’t want to say life is where I learn my creativity, but actually, every conversation… How do they talk, how do they speak when they are expressing something? When they are sad, they don’t say they are sad, but they look sad. How do I ask someone questions where they’ll give that up to me? How do things look, how do things feel, how do things make me feel? How does art make me feel, how does music make me feel? I think the key thing about any kind of art is you are trying to avoid commotion when people are watching it. Therefore, I need to know what that emotion is and how to get there. That’s how you know what to film.
What has been your favourite project to work on to date?
Nelson: Rap Game Season 1. I think that project was so loose in what they were trying to do with it that we got to a point where we became very creative. The show had no form, no one knew what it was going to be, no one knew where we were going with it. So, they trusted us on the ground a lot. That’s where I sort of blossomed. I got to dictate what I thought was good. My opinion mattered. And also, I was making a show for people like myself. I got the opportunity to create something that the people I know would enjoy. A lot of the time on TV we are making shows that people we know wouldn’t watch, because it’s on TV, it’s about a subject that’s not really interesting to our people.
Rap Game, it’s still TV. We still had to obey certain rules, up until today I feel like we didn’t have to, but I feel like we got to push those boundaries. Everything that happened on screen, we felt it. To connect with Nelson Adeosun you can find him on Twitter and Instagram.
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