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Jumping Astronaut Ltd - Reflections on a journey of creative risk with the benefit of hindsight

 

What is a Jumping Astronaut?

 

The advantage of the name is its non definition because I’m open to working across creative, digital platforms, locations, industry and education. The name also gives me a great USP and carbon footprint because I’m the only Jumping Astronaut without space clutter and rocket fuel :)

 

After a few years in traditional TV (NBC, BSkyB) I resigned permanently – for me it was a thankless factory line that made me miss everything I had valued about production. My most valued TV days in terms of content was for NBC Europe, where I could book, research and interview true music and social pioneers for ‘Talkin’ Jazz, Talkin’ Blues’ and ‘Music Legends’. The biographies and voices of pioneers such as Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, Charles Brown, Herbie Hancock, to name a few were more than inspirational and a true privilege to meet, along with the unknown greats in Jook Joints, somewhere in Baton Rouge. My production values have always been in documentary and independent film so corporate TV was never a good fit other than becoming Head of Production (with no budget) certainly provided me with management experience. However, the liberation of my production values has come with the explosion of digital democracy and for the last ten years my interests have been in the ‘hows’ of successful collaboration, innovation and creative content for positive social experiences – not just passive consumption. Frank Boyd, the Director of Creative Industries KTN was an important door opener into this world via the ‘Crossover Labs’ which I was able to attend. A positive, cultural mash up that may scare off traditionalists but delight innovators. Other name checks include Jon Kingsbury, Director of Creative Economy at NESTA, for great openness and especially whilst he was installed in the corporate BBC beast. Garret Keogh, a Director at pioneering social media company ‘We Are Telegraph Hill’, for being open, a champion and collaborative, plus my very incredible accountant, Allan McKelvie, for insight, wisdom, support and simply being human in this mad, risky game that I jump about in.

 

A Jumping Astronaut takes risks – I don’t always know what I’m jumping into. This has been especially true of my work with Universities. It is pretty amazing as to the huge gaps that still exist between industry and education across the creative subjects but there are pockets of really good and successful integration. I can jump into an abyss to try and encourage links or I can jump into an abyss where there is a ‘greeter’ waiting who wants to encourage those links too. An important name check who willingly collaborates for a positive sea change is Dr. Ken Fox at Canterbury Christ Church University. Communication is very good across the Media Department. One testimony of happy collaboration is our module Professional Perspectives, which we co-designed to put students into an industry relevant space, adopting techniques for collaboration and innovation to work on industry briefs. Garret Keogh & Telegraph Hill once again grasped an opportunity for positive collaboration, set a great brief, created 3 placements, all of which have now translated into continued paid work. Why? We simply allowed one space for industry and education where language and ideas could be shared. The emphasis is collaborative and not education simply serving industry.

 

Risk of course is the consistent theme as soon as the word ‘creative’ is uttered. An important message for students is that this isn’t a world of employability, safety nets, regular salaries…

 

Not everyone is an entrepreneur either, but we do all have to take responsibility for the paths we take. The business realities of the creative industries are as important as the techniques in collaboration and innovation and still all too often a missing part of the ‘creative education’. I’ve only known ‘risk’ but I apparently have the classic profile of an entrepreneur, no silver spoons, no silk cushions, just born rolling with the punches. However, it will be welcome when small businesses like mine don’t have to punch their way through everything and risk is appropriately shared. I’ve been involved in development rounds with global media companies where without a doubt I have absorbed most costs. We have to be careful not to specialise in business issues but successful delivery.

 

So, right now here are some of the things I’m jumping about:

 

I continue www.jumpingastronaut.com for education.

 

I am developing a tourism format designed to empower communities and create better connected journeys. The lead investors are currently Kent County Council and technology company Open Brolly.

 

I manage, completely unfinanced, www.mermology.com. This will evolve an ocean drama connected to platforms for learning and positive action around all things water, oceans and sustainable marine life. I’m delighted to say we are adopted by award winning film makers, M&S for blog and competition content and the very famous Cousteau family who recommend us every week on twitter. In just a few months this is an outcome purely of commitment, collaboration and the open access of free digital platforms. Get a commission? Don’t make me laugh. Demonstrate the case, don’t try and persuade one or two decision makers. I’ve spent months and months in the past with ‘go nowhere’ commissioners and have spent a fortune on trains and legal that result in a commitment to their ‘existing brands’. In other words, fearful protectionists generating ‘there’s nothing on’ TV.

 

Stu-RENT a format to empower students and accommodation not only for sourcing, but cultural features, rapid information share and an address to poor standards and failing regulation via a digital voting system. Barclays bank is currently looking at this – an interesting exercise for good banking PR??!!

 

Plus there’s screenplays, short stories –  but I jump and I land commitment with each project.

 

Let’s see what happens – I don’t always know what I’m jumping into…

 

Thanks for reading and if you’d like contacts check www.jumpingastronaut.com for email submission and follow @jumpingastro

 

 

 

 

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