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Interview: Caroline Bottomley- Shiny Awards

#CREATORTALK is a series of articles and interviews, with a focus on the creative industries and the talent working within them. In this edition of #CREATORTALK, we talk to the founder of Shiny, Caroline Bottomley. 

PW- Hey Caroline! How are you doing? 

I’m very happy at the moment thank you. I’m writing this from Sheffield Docfest and have just watched ‘Hail Satan?’ Which is the best documentary I’ve seen for a very long time. It’s awful and very optimistic at the same time.

PW- So, first thing’s first. For those who haven’t met you yet, how would you sum up who you are and what you do?

My main work is running Shiny. We connect diverse, emerging video directors to gatekeepers in the commercial video industry. I’m in my 50s, my career has been in music and video/ TV. I used to live in Sheffield and am now a dedicated Londoner.

PW- I first became aware of your work through Radar Music Videos, the pioneering video commissioning platform. Before Shiny and Radar though, you worked in club promotion, production management and a few other things. What drew you to the music video world?

I loved working in music but I’d had enough of promoting events. I liked the output of TV but didn’t particularly love the process. I’ve always loved comics (shout out to Love & Rockets). The early 2000’s were beginning to turn up some properly artistic and exciting music videos, so that all came together at the right time.

PW- Through the amazing Shiny Awards, you have helped directors and creatives of all backgrounds get recognition for their work. In our industry, we have a way to go before we make it a level playing field for filmmakers, especially female, minority and LGBT+ directors. What do you think are the next steps towards fairer representation?

Thank you for nice words re Shiny 🙂 I think class is a big elephant in the room. I think it needs activists to keep being activists, for us all to keep hammering away in whatever ways we do. Role models and seeing & hearing diverse people in positions of authority is very powerful and the more we see of that, the more change we have.

PW- I’ve read that getting back into live events was something you were most excited about when moving on from Radar- what is it about the live event experience that you enjoy the most?

Well I got so sick of event organising when I was a promoter, I thought I would never go back to it. It can be very stressful. But I’m doing these events in partnership with some wonderful venues, so the main things I enjoy are the temporary collaborations and the adrenaline buzz. Plus the full-on social aspects of getting people together for a rewarding time is exciting.

PW- What can you tell us about your work as a mentor? I understand you mentor within the She Says So network and for refugee children at Salusbury World- what does this entail, and what made you want to do it? 

Adult mentoring means for me trying to listen to what people want in their business or career and helping to put structure and planning around that. That’s monthly or less. Child mentoring is different and more about being an adult who cares about them doing well at school and who looks out for them and any issues they might be having. It’s a weekly commitment. Also, I have a couple of mentors for Shiny, who help me untangle ideas/ put a brake on things/ plan and prioritise.

PW- Overcoming obstacles is a key skill for anyone in our industry, especially with the amount of rejection we all face on a day to day basis. Can you tell us about one of the hardest obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get to the position you are in today?

Blimey. Utter uncertainty is the hardest. Having a plan makes everything easy. I had 3 days of gut-wrenching uncertainty about what I was going to do once I sold Radar (it was probably longer, but I remember 3 days of deep pain). But talking it through with knowledgable and helpful and clever people helped sort it out. I needed to find something I cared about, that had a good chance of being useful enough to other people, so that they would pay me enough to give me a livelihood.

PW- In this kind of industry, it can be tough to feel like you’re moving forwards sometimes. How do you battle these feelings when they come up, and do you have any advice to other people who might be struggling in a similar way?

Excellent questions Rob! Usually when I feel like that, I try and note that either I need to set a bigger goal or a different one. And that ’s when I start making some days free for planning and try to rope in a mentor or two. When things are rolling along nicely, that’s when I know I’m on the right path. If I’ve got bogged down it’s usually because I’m doing the wrong path. I try a take a bigger helicopter view of where I’m heading. That’s the idea anyway. If that works for other people too, hurrah.

PW- And final question! It’s more of an invitation actually. Please use the next couple of sentences to tell us what you’re up to next, and where we can follow you online 🙂

Shiny perhaps needs to have more events worldwide and if so, definitely needs to be able to do that without me being involved in person. So that is the exciting problem to solve next.

Here we are online:

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