In a twenty-year career in factual television, Jess has made everything from long running, multi-episode features series to immersive one-off docs.
At True North Jess has helped create big returning brands like A New Life in the Sun, Building the Dream and The Pets Factor and has also been responsible for delivering some of the company’s most talked-about pop docs including My Mums Used to Be Men and My Fake Baby.
Here’s a quick chat with Jess:
When did you join True North?
As one of the founders of the company, I have been here since the very beginning. In fact, True North is exactly as old as my youngest child and my family tell me it’s been just as big a part of my life!
What show are you working on?
I don’t work on specific shows– although I produced and directed a number of our early programmes and even starred in one…as The Queen! Now I have a more strategic role and at the moment, I work with the creative teams on shows like A New Life in The Sun, My Dream Derelict Home in the Sun, Say Yes to the Dress and another big series that hasn’t been announced yet!
What other shows are particularly proud of that you have worked on at True North and elsewhere?
I feel proud of everything that has been achieved by everyone at True North. It’s always a huge collective effort – often with loads of collaboration between different production teams. We work in a special way here at True North and I feel lucky to be part of it.
Anything that stands out about your career?
Being sent to India, alone and with no mobile phone when I was a really inexperienced AP. I was told that the producer and crew wouldn’t be joining me till I’d found and set up three films. We ended up getting inside Asia’s largest prison, finding new evidence in the baby-milk scandal and making a film inside Dharavi – where more than a million people live in shacks right next door to Mumbai’s financial district. It was the most challenging but exhilarating thing that has ever happened to me in my life.
Anything you feel really strongly about in the industry?
I feel really strongly about the informal networks that have dominated TV for far too long and which we are just starting to be broken down. I am pleased that the industry is finally waking up to the effects of privilege and how it limits the relevance, breadth of appeal and creativity of the content we make. I am proud of what True North is doing to become an even fairer and more inclusive place to work.
Anything else you would like to tell us about yourself?
When I’m not working, I can mainly be found swimming in West Yorkshire’s most murky ponds and streams.