Lucy Brown (CCS 1993) has made television programmes around the world for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Nickelodeon and Disney.
She has TV credits on BAFTA and RTS award winning children’s programmes and the acclaimed flagship architecture series Grand Designs. Lucy is Principal Lecture and Head of Film and Television Production at the University of Greenwich. She is a fellow of the Higher Education Academy, winner of a Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in International Engagement and a regular juror at international media festivals.
What was your first job?
My first job after Sussex was at Sight and Sound Magazine – I gained an internship there whilst doing my Masters at the British Film Institute (BFI). I then moved on to work in the BFI archive, before deciding to follow a career in production.
What are you passionate about?
I am very passionate about the need for greater diversity and gender parity within the film and TV industry. I am founder and co-director of the Trailblazing Women On and Off Screen Symposium. It was conceived in collaboration with the University of Greenwich and Women’s Film and Television History Network to bring together academics and practitioners, those in-between or on the periphery, to discuss and be proactive about the lack of women in the film and television industry and to inform, inspire and encourage women of all ages and from all backgrounds.
So, in your experience, there are not equal opportunities for men and women in the TV industry?
Sadly not yet. There are some initiatives now to try to change things but we still need to keep the pressure on and there is a long way to go to see the same opportunities given to everyone. That’s why I set up the Trailblazing Women Symposium with filmmaker and academic Lee-Jane Bennion-Nixon in association with Creative Professions and Digital Arts and Women in Film and TV History Network. It aims to address the lack of women across a range of roles, and encourage present and future film and TV makers to take action and join a community of likeminded people who want to fight for change.
What's the best piece of advice you’ve had?
Just do it. Create your own opportunities. Don’t wait for permission.
Who's your hero/heroine?
My fictional heroine is Wonder Woman – I loved watching the 80s TV show when I was growing up. She’s a fantastic icon and role model for girls. I’m delighted that the new movie directed by Patty Jenkins is doing so fantastically well and breaking multiple records at the box office.
Who's influenced your life most, and why?
My parents. I feel blessed that they have always been supportive of everything I do and given me a sense that anything is possible.
What's the skill you'd most like to have?
To be able to sing beautifully – I can only manage singing enthusiastically!
What's your favourite pastime/relaxation activity?
I love travelling and feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to make TV programmes around the world and, as an academic, to have been invited to speak at conferences and film festivals in some wonderful locations. I’m often rushing around, so to sometimes just sit on the sofa and snuggle up with my kids to watch a movie or read a book can feel like the best thing in the world.
What can't you live without?
What was your worst job?
Working in a car factory when I was a teenager – I only lasted two days...
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement?
What attracted you to studying at Sussex?
I initially started out at Kings College in London but visited a friend at Sussex and fell in love with the place. The campus lifestyle makes life really easy for students in terms of making friends and rolling out of bed and getting to lectures!
Say yes to opportunities. Get your foot in the door and be helpful and dedicated to producing great work – this will help you get noticed, but don’t lose sight of where you want to end up” Lucy Brown
What are your favourite memories of Sussex?
So many. I had such a great time and met amazing friends for life.
What part of the Sussex experience has helped you the most?
I loved the interdisciplinarity of the degree structure – widening my outlook and knowledge.
Sum up your time at Sussex in three words or less…
Friends, culture, fun.
What's the most memorable moment from your career so far?
Being invited to speak and do a book signing at this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas was incredible and definitely a highlight.
Tell us more...
It was a brilliant experience. I was invited to present my research on global television, and hold a book signing for my co-authored book The TV Studio Production Handbook (right), a guide for students and people wanting to work in TV on how to make successful television programmes. I met amazing people, and got a chance to watch some fantastic films, and discover new tech. I was completely star-struck to be in the same room as Ryan Gosling and rub shoulders with the cast and crew of Game of Thrones, Veep and Edgar Wright's Baby Driver! It was a magical few days and can't recommend the festival highly enough.
What single piece of advice would you give to a student aspiring towards a career in TV production?
Say yes to opportunities. Get your foot in the door and be helpful and dedicated to producing great work – this will help you get noticed, but don’t lose sight of where you want to end up and aim to get there by watching and learning, and you will rise through the ranks.
What is your all-time favourite TV show?
Do you think the BBC’s licence fee model is sustainable given the volume of free content available online?
I’m a big fan of the BBC. It’s by no means perfect but it’s a national institution and one that I think should be protected. Generally I’d say that the BBC sets the gold standard for other broadcasters and £147 a year for such a vast range of TV channels, national and local radio stations, the BBC website and the World Service seems pretty good value to me.
What is the next major technological development in TV?
The quality of Virtual Reality (VR) is now quite impressive. It used to feel quite jerky and seasick-inducing, but when done well now it can really add to the storytelling. The price is also coming down, which makes it really accessible, so more people could watch TV content via VR headsets. I also think there will be more emphasis on live TV, as this is a way to connect and bring together audiences.
How does working in academia compare to working in the industry?
The TV Industry is very deadline driven; generally speaking there is more time for research and reflection in academia.
What qualities do you most admire in other people?
Kindness, positivity, action.
Describe your perfect day…
A beautiful sunny day at the beach with my family.