Succeeding in the Creative Industries

More specialist industry insight from video games commissioner Colin Macdonald and photojournalist Jess Hurd in Honeycomb - Creative Works video interviews

'Mobile - and that includes phones and tablets - is the fastest growing technology the world has ever seen. Half of the UK population play games and about 20 million of those are on mobile, so it’s a massive part of people’s lives.'

So reveals Colin Macdonald, Channel 4’s Commissioning Editor for Games, in a talk supported by EU INTERREG IVA-funded programme Honeycomb - Creative Works. It's an eyebrow-raising stat from the man responsible for such handheld hits as The Snowman, The Snowdog and Made in Chelsea, who goes on to say that business isn't the only thing important to the gaming industry.

'When you’re making games, the single most important thing is to have fun doing it. We’re in a creative industry, we’re making fun products, it’s got to be fun to make it as well, because otherwise that doesn’t come through to the end product,' he says.

Gaming is just one of the many areas of the creative industries which have been explored by Honeycomb – Creative Works over the past 18 months, along with film and broadcast, animation, interactive media and music, as the organisation addresses the economic, educational, social and cultural needs of the sector.

Honeycomb Programme Manager Fiona McElroy explains: 'Through our research we have found that digitisation will be a key factor in shaping future growth and therefore businesses must adapt their operating models to benefit from digitally driven growth opportunities.

'Over half of all creative industries companies are also interested in collaboration, so membership of networks and associations represents potential for business development.'

One person who knows the importance of having the right people to help you out in the field is freelance photographer and campaigning photojournalist Jess Hurd, who cites some of the best experiences of her career as being some of the individuals she has met who have gone out of their way to help her. 'I found so much love and so much humour in a situation which was just devastating - that really touches you,' she says of being amidst the Haiti earthquake disaster in 2010.

'There’s much more to my work than just taking pictures, including logistics planning, safety gear and having a back-up plan for your back-up plan!'

Having photographed political events in Egypt, Mexico, Brazil, India, China and Africa, Jess acknowledges that there are both risks and rewards to her job, recalling a particular incident at the miner's dispute in northern Spain.

'The police used tear gas, but because it was so high up in mountains, it was impossible to use a gas mask as you can’t breathe and run at same time. You have to think about how you would cope when you hit those kinds of obstacles, including – as in Egypt – how you would distribute your images when the internet is shut down.'

Jess is a passionate advocate of press freedom, which has come under increasing threat in the UK, and is one of the founders of 'I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist', a campaign against police repression.

'We have faced significant battles over the use of 'stop and search' powers, which we won with a legal challenge in European Court of Human Rights,' she says. 'I was stopped covering a wedding in London’s Docklands and told I could be doing hostile reconnaissance, which was just ridiculous!'

She has mixed feelings too on how advances in technology have impacted the photography industry: 'I think it’s great that people have the ability to document their lives and the injustices around them, but equally you’ve got a flood of what seems to be 'free' images on social media.

'They shouldn’t be free - if a newspaper is using them, this is content and we should be charging for it – from the amateur through to the professional. The industry is undermining itself by encouraging its own amateurization.'

For further information and career advice from guest speakers on the Honeycomb – Creative Works programme, visit the Honeycomb Learning Videos page.