All Spring Media Turns Twelve
11th April 2023, by Martina Porter
So, All Spring Media is 12 years old. A year off being a teenager, and we all know how intense those teenage years are. Being a teenager is about evolution, moving from being a child to being an adult and finding your place in the world. This analogy is not lost on me and does feel very apt for where the company now is and what our future holds going forward. To understand our journey, I need to take you back decades.
I grew up in Northern Ireland where there was very little in the way of an indigenous film industry at that time. I knew what I wanted to do when I was 16, the draw of creating stories was strong and I knew I needed to be a part of that somehow. I had no connections in the industry, my father worked in farming and my mother was a nurse, so I wrote letters to production companies, volunteered to be a stand-in on a tv show and spoke to anyone I could about how to get in. One company wrote back and offered to meet with me. I still remember the advice I got from that Producer to this day. At that point I was trying to decide about going to university and, if I went the university route, what I would study. He told me that whatever I studied I would start at the bottom, so to go off to university and study something that I enjoyed. I chose to study Politics, but I used my time at university to immerse myself in theatre productions, gaining an acting module of the BTEC in Performing Arts along the way.
At the end of university, I applied for trainee schemes at the BBC, but they were highly competitive, and I was not successful, so I made the decision to leave Northern Ireland and study for a Masters in Theatre and Film at the University of Sheffield. I knew nobody in Sheffield and arrived at the train station on my own with 3 suitcases to start a new life in England. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Sheffield. I learned about script writing, lighting design, production management as well as performance and gained a deeper understanding of film theory. At the end of my Masters, I got an interview with a production company in London for a trainee scheme. The interview was horrific and the person interviewing me was not very nice – I walked out of the interview and burst into tears, but it didn’t shake my resolve.
I packed up my bedsit in Sheffield and moved to London, finding a room in a shared house with complete strangers, who have gone on to become some of my closest friends. I had a couple of interviews for agents and production companies, but in many cases, it came down to them giving the job to someone they already knew. It felt like I was constantly hitting a brick wall. Eventually, I found a course at the Half Way Production House that was funded by a local council, I applied and was accepted onto it. That was the point at which things really changed for me. The course was in 16mm Film Production and lasted 3 months. I made friends on that course that are still part of my network today. It was also the catalyst for my career, and off the back of the course, I produced my first short film with a graduate from the International Film School, and it snowballed from there.
However, work was frequently low or no-pay, so I had to work to support myself around filming. I found a job in the office of a cleaning firm. The owner was tricky and had difficulty retaining staff, so we worked out an arrangement where I could go off and shoot and then return to work in the office afterwards. It was tough but it was the only way I could pay rent and keep a car running – an essential item for anyone working in the industry.
I got a call from the Half Way Production House one day a few years after I finished my training. They wanted to offer me some freelance work on a training project they had. I jumped at the chance to go back and work with them (and leave my office job in the cleaning company). While working for them, they encourage me to shoot a promo for them and to work on productions with new directors outside of my freelance work with them. So began my journey on fusing training and practical industry experience.
So, why am I telling you all this? This gives you a background to the genesis of All Spring Media and why this work is so important to me. This is personal and I am forever grateful to Georgina Hart at the Half Way Production House for taking a chance on me, twice! After having my second child, my work at a university was no longer fulfilling me, so when I got asked to work on the first production apprenticeship being run by the BBC, I was ready to embrace a new chapter in my career. Finally, I had an opportunity to work with people who needed help getting in, like I did, but who did not need to juggle that with the need to earn a living. That was April 2010.
After only a few months, I knew this is where my passion lay, so I left the job I had been doing at the university part-time and took a leap of faith to set up All Spring Media. It’s been a bumpy ride, but I am so proud of the people we have helped along the way and the amazing team I have beside me.
There are so many highlights that it’s impossible to choose between them, but every time I get an email from a former apprentice or see an update on Linked In, I feel an enormous sense of pride at what we have been able to achieve. We are fully committed to supporting people from all backgrounds into the industry and remaining with them on that journey.
So as All Spring Media heads into the teenage years, what’s next? It’s been a very challenging year for us, but like the teenager we are, we are finding our own way in the world, dealing with good things, as well as the unpleasant bits as we go, forging a new identity. The need for people to champion diverse talent is still very much there. Over the coming months, we will pivot to meet the needs of the industry, and please keep an eye out for exciting announcements. Like most pre-teens, we’ve only just got started!