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Award-winning producer Jackie Thompson


Jackie Thompson, 33, Producer of HIV The Musical

"You’re dead lucky if you can go to work every day and do things exactly how you want", reflects Manchester-based TV producer Jackie Thompson. ‘I never really felt like I had a grand career plan but my motivation has always been to work in my own way."

Jackie had been working in television for nine years, as a researcher and then celebrity booker for BBC entertainment shows such as Later with Jools and Glastonbury, when she had the opportunity, last year, to get involved with producing a short film for Ctrl.Alt.Shift, a new and experimental youth initiative of Christian Aid that is aimed at tackling issues of poverty and global injustice.

The film in question is HIV The Musical, written and directed by hot new comic talent Joseph Patrick and Tim Woodall. The script was one of the winning entries and aims to highlight the prejudice and ignorance surrounding HIV. The writers wanted Jackie on board: "I got a surprise phone call from Joe" Jackie explains, "He said 'you know a bit about telly stuff don’t you, do you want to produce the film?!'"

Her biggest job was getting two actors to play the main parts – James, a beleaguered filmmaker wanting to make a rather earnest film about the plight of an aid worker who contracts HIV in Africa, and a belligerent film boss, Myles, who has very different ideas about how the story should go (a stand-out line of his - ‘HIV – it’s a bloody nightmare’).

"We came up with a wish list of actors to play the parts, we never thought that we would get Martin Freeman and Julian Barratt to play them!" informs Jackie. "I remember phoning Joe to tell him that Martin wanted to do it and I think his exact words were “f*ck off…” and then Julian came on board too."

So, after a lot of hard work in a very short space of time the film came together and is a massive triumph, garnering a frenzied level of interest and, crucially, raising awareness about HIV. As well as being a huge achievement, for Jackie it has invigorated her career path:
"Doing the film has made me want to seriously pursue a career producing comedy. I love the idea of reading funny scripts, finding talented people to get involved and then filming it."

So does she have any advice for any other budding film makers? "I haven’t taken what you’d exactly call a conventional career path but I think it helps if you believe in what you’re doing and the reason you’re doing it."

Jackie’s CV
1993: Stock controller for a gentlemen's outfitters in Blackburn
1997: Accounts clerk for a textile mill
1999: Complaints department for Airtours
2000: Receptionist for Manchester-based production company Action Time
2000-2006: BBC (Manchester and London) - first as a production secretary, then researcher, then celebrity booker
2007: Produced a short film for Liverpool 08 (Capital of Culture) / BBC
2009: Produced HIV: The Musical for Ctrl.Alt.Shift

Youth initiative Ctrl.Alt.Shift launched their unique film project in November 2008 aimed at tackling issues of poverty and global injustice. For more information visit www.ctrlaltshift.co.uk


Alison Taylor
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