Working from home has become the norm for so many people these days, and TV acquisitions executives are no exception. Those of us who work for public service media organizations have colleagues, particularly in news and current affairs, who still bravely travel to the studios, as broadcasting is considered an ‘essential service’ by the Irish government. That being said, RTE officials have told staff members who do not need to be based in the office to work from home.
Our technology team has given us access to all of our systems remotely. This allows us to do everything we typically do in the office at home, from viewing to issuing contracts and getting them signed electronically. Once a deal is done files can be sent into RTE electronically, and compliance and preparation for transmission is also done at home.
Our department has a team meeting every morning at 9:30 a.m. We have also created a WhatsApp Group, which has proved very useful in getting group messages to everyone immediately.
Work has been really busy as large amounts of both Irish and international programming have stopped production, and there are large gaps to fill in the schedules. We have been re-licensing lots of Irish comedies and dramas from independent Irish producers. We have also been running classic movies like Casablanca and Dr. Zhivago. These movies, which we are running as afternoon matinees, are proving really popular with our audiences. There are so many people stuck in their homes all day, and a classic movie can make them forget the current crisis and can bring them back to a more innocent and secure time in their lives.
We have also licensed adaptations of all the Shakespeare plays which are on the public examination curriculum. Pupils usually go to the theater to see versions of these plays, but that is, of course, no longer possible.
I have worked from home on the odd occasion in the past, but doing so all week has been new to me. Like many other people have stated, putting a structure on the day is key. I take an early brisk walk down to the sea every morning and that sets me up for the day. I also take a short lunch break, which is a great thing as I can share that with my wife, and two of my children who are also at home. My eldest son is in London and caught the virus, but thankfully recovered after a couple of unpleasant days.
I am now a relative expert in Teams, Zoom, and Webinars, as lots of calls are taking place using these tools now. I think people who are at home, many on their own, like a face-to-face encounter. I have also found that even phone calls are lengthier as the people I deal with like to have a good chat about the news and their personal life, as well as work. I think we all miss the office chats.
Another challenge with working from home is when to stop and close the laptop. There is not the usual closing up of the office, the saying goodbye to everyone, the “see you tomorrow.”
Every now and again I feel sad about not meeting my colleagues around the world. First MIP-TV went, then the L.A. Screenings, and there is no clear view of when we shall all be able to travel again. Those of us in sales and acquisitions have been so lucky to have been able to travel for business, and have made great friendships over the years. Of course the world’s health and well-being is first and foremost, but I do long for a glass of rosé on the Croisette at some time in the future, surrounded by a bunch of my best friends in the industry.
Dermot Horan (pictured above at home) is director of Acquisitions and Co-Production, RTE, Ireland’s public service broadcaster. He’s responsible for acquiring all of RTE’s international programming, as well as international co-productions. He’s also a vice president of the European Broadcasting Union TV Committee.