On the 18th April, the Ladders team reunited at Software City again after the Easter break. This session started with a more in-depth discussion of the projects the talent is expected to make. One of the main outcomes of Ladders will be some work related to the sector they’ve chosen that they can use to benefit their CV. There are 4 weeks left for everyone to create a piece of work, individually or in pairs or groups and preferably completed. Not only will these projects benefit their CV, but they will also be given something different to discuss at interviews; have something unique that makes them stand out and demonstrates them as go-getting and motivated; kickstart a potential business idea…

Rebecca James, singer/songwriter, did the music sector of the Ladders talent programme 2 years ago and kindly came into giving a discussion to the current Ladders team. Her initial project ideas were to have at least 1 recorded song, an experience of co-writing and collaborating with instrumentalists and to try home recording. She chose to do a soulful acapella song called ‘Control’ as it was achievable to record within the given time frame and available resources. Furthermore, the song resonated with people due to its subject matter on letting go of perfection. There were a lot of elements to the song Control such as stomp clap rhythms created with the team and vocal phrasing.

Rebecca also told us about how she achieved the cowriting goal with a song called ‘Cigarettes and Time’. Co-writing was an interesting experience for her as it allowed her to work in a different genre, creating music that was more indie than soul. She gave the group advice to utilize time outside out of the course in order to achieve great projects they can be proud of. Rebecca also told the group how the Ladders project encouraged her songwriting talents and gave her more confidence in her musical ability. She has since used her Ladders project for residency applications, auditions, potential collaborators, portfolio motivation and has even used other songs from the course for funding applications. Rebecca advice was as follows- create something useful to you; be realistic; work outside of sessions (she really stressed this point); use resources and mentors; and collaborate- you’re surrounded by talented people, you might as well use them!

I then spoke to the talented individuals of the Ladders programme to find out about their project ideas. Dom told me he would love to have some mixtapes featuring songs he has created. He told me he makes hip-hop and R&B. Dom already has 2 recorded songs and has them out but he would love to have more.

In the very first Ladders session, I had a discussion with Gabrielle. I hadn’t seen her in a while as she is working on music and I have mainly associated my blog with the Film & TV group. It was interesting to see how her ideas had developed and I believe her confidence has greatly increased since we last spoke on a formal basis. She tells me she wants to write and record a song- she wants it to be acoustic and feature her vocals. Gabrielle aims to have an album at some point and tells me how she wants to be more active with her YouTube account and find a good internship job.

It turns out there are only 3 guys doing the software sector of Ladders. It was pleasant to find out they had decided to do their project as a group as it showed signs of bonding, professionalism, initiative and that they weren’t doing this for wholly selfish reasons. They are going to work together on an HTML webpage quiz game. Their project seemed well planned out already- Liam, Reece and Harrison are going to spend week 1 setting it out and deciding on the theme. They then plan on going on to design a level each. All 3 of them have made websites before so have good experience of this work. Liam and Harrison have also done games design courses but tell me they’ve never really done anything like their planned project before.

I decided to speak to Aaron and Chloe from the music sector together- they aren’t working in a group or pair but I wanted to switch it up a little. Aaron wishes to record a song with their band and is interested in heavy, grunge music. Chloe is into indie music and wants to record a song that she already writes.

I speak to Adam Littlemore next who aims to make a “massive instrumental”- he repeats the word “massive” a lot and talks about the intended involvement of drums, bass, synths, guitar and vocals- which are to be provided by Aaron.  I am excited to see how this will turn out at the presentation, especially when he tells me he’s never done anything like this.

I talk to Aaron next regarding his project goals. He wants to record a song. Aaron plays the guitar and writes songs; he has never done any official musical recordings but has done home studio recordings before. Aaron wants to musically expand, working with drums and harmonies in his sound. Aaron intends to create music that can be considered a genre mash-up because that’s what he enjoys.

Lastly, I spoke to Chris who seems to have some very clear ideas for comedy sketches. I trust his project will work out well as he is already laughing at the concepts he’s creating and performed a good comedy sketch previously in Sunderland University’s green screen room. Chloe and Lee spoke to Chris about these ideas and it sounds like he is already in the development stage of the project planning!

Peter Banks then spoke to the group to inspire and advise on projects. He previously did the film sector of the Ladders talent programme. Peter admits to lacking confidence pre-Ladders but recalls how Ladders installed confidence in him and he believes in his business ability now. Peter is one half of Fandangle Films. His final Ladders project was an explanation film designed to showcase to potential business clients. Fandangle Films has a tagline of “sincere, not serious”, like Innocent Smoothies’ business model.

Peter used his greenscreen knowledge he gained from the start of the course for his final project. He told the group Ladders allows you to scrounge- you don’t have to spend money in order to achieve an impressive project that would be otherwise costly. Peter effectively used the people around him to help him create his project aims- a friend recorded his video, another friend with a music degree created the jingle and his business partner created the props. Peter stressed how important and helpful it is to have a network of skilled people around you that you like and advised the group to speak to and get to know creative people. He also created a website and business cards for Fandangle Films but mainly his time was concerned with script writing and shooting for his promotional video.

Peter and his business partner both had jobs at the time that they were doing the programme. He told the talented group about how 4 weeks doesn’t seem like a lot “but if you work hard and manage time, you can achieve”.

Helpfully, Peter Banks showed the Ladders team some of his work to inspire and motivate them. We were shown the website he created and videos, such as the one he created to explain the principles and aims of Fandangle Films. Furthermore, he showed the Halloween promotional video to the group and gave them advice. His advice was as follows: don’t be too ambitious and it’s acceptable for work to be incomplete but try to complete it.

Jenny Barrett then addressed the group with some of her own advice. She told the talented young people to have a realistic timeline and goal for the end of programme project. She also stressed that it was important to understand mentors about advising not doing and that the team should consider what the industry wants. Jenny addressed the interesting ongoing creative debate of self-indulgence versus what the market is on the hunt for- the talent wants to stand out but also need to attract customers. I hope to see the Ladders team take on this advice and put their careers into motion.