10 questions with.. Emma Firth
Hello #supergirls! Welcome back to our weekly series "10 questions with.." - talking to girls who are R.O.C.K.I.N.G. it!!
THIS WEEK WE ARE GOING TO GET TO CHAT WITH Emma Firth. Emma is 33 years old and works as a freelance journalist, producer and videographer based in Copenhagen, Denmark. We're happy we got to chat to her!
10 questions with..
Hello Emma! So happy to get to chat to you. Would love to know more about you and your background! Have you always been living in Copenhagen? If not, since when and what are your favourite parts about this city?
I moved to Copenhagen in February 2016 with my husband and daughter, who was one year old at the time. We moved purely because we wanted an adventure. I’m half Danish but didn’t speak the language (I’m now learning - slowly!) and I was always curious about living and working in Copenhagen. During maternity leave, I realised I was ready for a new challenge in my career and decided to go freelance, having worked at the BBC for six years. I then thought, why not go all out and see if I can make freelancing work in Copenhagen. I’m lucky that my husband was completely behind the idea and after a lot of research and discussions with our families, we took the leap of faith to rent out our house in Sheffield and move. My husband looked after our daughter, while job-searching and learning Danish and I started to build up my freelance network. After four months, my husband got a great job offer and here we are, nearly one year later, having made it work….just!
There are so many parts of Copenhagen that I love. We’ve recently moved to Nørrebro and I’ve discovered some great cafes and boutique shops along Jægersborggade and Elmegade. During the summer, Klampenborg, towards the north of Copenhagen, is a great place to explore. From the train station you can walk to the beautiful beach and then head onto Bakken, the world’s oldest operating theme park which is very quaint and traditional. It is surrounded by the forest Dyrehaven, where you can have a picnic and feel completely away from the city. I also love Tivoli in the centre of Copenhagen as a place to take visitors by day or night as they have not only rides but gardens, dance, theatre and music performances as well as restaurants and cafes. Incidentally, this is the world’s second oldest theme park.
Your work sounds really exciting! Please tell us more about what you do!
I’m a freelance journalist, videographer and film producer. I work for companies in Copenhagen that want to make films about their brand, product or work and I help turn that idea into a reality. I work with a team of camera operators, script writers, graphic designers, editors and directors. It’s my job to come up with a filming plan within budget, work out the logistics, oversee the shooting days, sometimes acting as the interviewer and then I work with the editor, script writer and graphic designer, to bring it all together. It’s similar to what I did as a producer for BBC News but on a larger scale at times and for a different audience.
I was also a video journalist for the BBC so some of my projects involve filming and editing myself; something I really enjoy. I’m primarily a journalist so I love telling a story, especially the ones I’m discovering about Danish living. I do this by writing for an English-based paper in Denmark called The Local, as well keeping a blog: www.livingthedanishgene.com
I have had to build up a whole new work network in Copenhagen and it’s something I’m constantly working on but it’s great to be in charge of what, when and who I work for.
That sounds like quite an interesting profession overall ! How did you get to do this?
After studying English Literature at Durham University, I went travelling on my own for nine months, to have an adventure and make sure I was ready to embark on the competetive world of journalism. I then enrolled on a Postgraduate Diploma in Broadcast Journalism. This led to working for free for a while, a lot of rejections and soul-searching, until I eventually got a contract with my local BBC TV newsroom. In that job, I learnt very quickly how to tell a story, film, edit and report live. After three years, I moved to the national BBC Breakfast TV programme where I worked as a producer and occasional reporter for three years. I worked at Media City in Salford, just as it was getting started and had opportunities with BBC Sports News and other departments because we all shared the same building. I then went on maternity leave to have my first child and that’s when I realised I was ready to branch out and work for myself.
What do you find the most exciting about your work?
As a journalist, I love finding things out; having an idea, doing some research, making phone calls, asking around and then realising you have a good story to tell. And the process of telling a story through film is very exciting, added with a little bit of the fear at times because you can be working on a large scale and things sometimes don’t go to plan. But adapting and having the confidence you can produce what’s required, is an exciting process. I also like that you can see what I do. I have a finished product and that is really satisfying.
What have been the biggest challenges you faced in career or life and what helped you overcome them?
Getting into the BBC at the time of recession in 2009 was incredibly difficult and I was left in debt, with straight A-grades, two degrees, living at home on the dole wondering why I was unemployable – even at my local Tesco's. I was also told I’d never broadcast on TV because my broadcast voice wasn’t good enough. But I knew that I was a good journalist and had worked so hard building up to this pivotal employable stage. So I persisted and persisted with every new contact I made, until I eventually got offered a couple of shifts a week at my local BBC TV newsroom. I grabbed onto that opportunity and made myself indispensable – coming up with stories, shooting and editing them myself, even though I didn’t really know how to use the equipment at the time. Within a couple of months, I was given a full-time three-month contract, which in turn got extended and extended until I was regularly reporting on regional TV, then moved to national TV news and got made staff.
My other biggest challenge was having the self-conviction to leave the BBC, when I felt I’d got everything I could out of it. It wasn’t an easy decision, knowing the work that it took to get a staff position. But having time-out on maternity leave gave me the head space to reassess what I wanted for my new family life and career. I have Lydia, my daughter to thank for giving me a boost of self-confidence and strength to turn a pipe dream into a reality.
What do you like to wear at work? Do you have any favourite pieces?
I try and think practically first and foremost, especially when out on a filming day where I need to run around and not worry about what I’m wearing. I wear flats most of the time – brogues or chelsea boots. My go-to outfits are blouses tucked into high-waisted skinny jeans or cigerette trousers with a bretton T-shirt. I have a quite a few different styles of jackets, ranging from a jersey bright orange one, to a more formal navy blue, which smartens up any skinny jean outfit. For meetings, I might wear an A-line skirt with a top and brogues. But I’m never overly formal.
What’s your off-duty style?
Not that different from my work style. I live in high-waisted skinny jeans but will make it more relaxed with an interesting tee or jumper. I like a mini-skirt with a chunky knit or floaty skirts and dresses in the summer. I’ve got a lot of wear out of my dungaree cord dress, which is so easy to dress up or down in summer or winter – and has all the comfort and adapts to a changing mum body.
What is your favourite Changing Factor bag?
I love the grey Alien backpack. I use backpacks quite a lot, as I cycle everywhere and often need my hands free as a busy mum. I like that a backpack can be as much as a statement bag as all the others. The option to hold it as a briefcase is also perfect from transitioning from the cycle nursery drop-off to work meeting.
Now when it comes to having fun… what do you like to do in your free time??
Now I have an energetic two year old, my own free time is quite rare and outside of work I’m often found in a playground or toddler group, which to be honest I really enjoy. But I make an effort to have quality free time with my friends, both in England and Copenhagen and love trying out new cafes here. Pre-parenthood I’d enjoy going to the cinema, theatre and gigs but it’s quite rare this happens these days! I also like to keep healthy by running and doing pilates. But living on a 4th floor apartment with no lift, and cycling everywhere in Copenhagen, means I don’t have to worry too much about a sedentary lifestyle.
Share with us a favourite piece of advice, quote, or saying of any kind!
From Alice in Wonderland
"The Mad Hatter: Have I gone mad?
Alice: I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”
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Until next week!