My Media Day: Paul Hineman, freelance TV producer/director

PAUL Hineman is a freelance television producer/director and has run his own production company since 2008. His new joint venture,, is a six-channel video-on-demand network. He now juggles ‘traditional’ TV production work with developing ideas for digital platforms and acting as creative director of the company set up to build TVtapas. 

Seven years ago, Paul won a BAFTA for BBC’s Raven.

He submitted this on Wednesday, March 13.

What exactly is it that you do?

Essentially, I still see myself as a producer/director. It took me a few years to build up a name and reputation, and I still get a thrill in taking on a new production. I’ve been straddling the freelance market and running an ‘indie’ for the past few years, and it has sort of worked. Last year, our company travelled to Africa for a month to shoot a food series, and that led to a gig for me on a new BBC cookery show. The timing worked out, so I got to do both.

The current focus, though, is TVtapas and the parent company behind it. It started as a conversation: “What would it take to set up a web channel?” And I can safely say, two years on, that I now know exactly what it takes.

I share a vision with my colleagues for TVtapas: it has to grow along with its audiences. But I am particularly interested in the notion that personalities, brands and corporations can become ‘channels’. If you have an audience and can create or source the content, put them together. Do something interesting and noisy with the technology. I’m a bit fed up with skateboarding cats.

What did your working day today or yesterday comprise?

Our new venture has an HQ from where we administer our channels, so I have a desk which I can call my own. Yesterday was a filming day – a new, short-form ‘quiz’ called ‘True or False Friday’, which is destined for one of our channels.

Again, I enjoy ‘being on the ground’ and creating stuff. After we ‘wrapped’, I crossed Glasgow for a meeting with a co-production company we’re working with. We are charting the one-man circumnavigation of the globe by a chap called Gerry Hughes. He left Scotland in September and is due home next month or May. We rigged his boat with HD cameras and we’re cutting a feature-length documentary, called Silent Odyssey. Gerry is profoundly deaf, hence the title. Then it was home to check emails and cook the dinner.

How different or similar was it to your average working day?

Many people in our business are lucky, I think, not to have an average working day. I personally go through cycles: pre-production, which tends to be office-based; then filming, which could be anywhere and usually means being away from home; then post-production, which means drinking gallons of coffee in an edit suite.

I enjoy the diversity, you never get bored. Last year, I arrived home from a business trip to Tuscany, then headed to Africa. After a month in the Masai Mara, with hippos for neighbours and hyenas for an alarm clock, I have to say that coming home was the real culture shock. Bizarrely, my house in Glasgow turns out to be significantly quieter than living in the middle of nowhere.

How different or similar is your average working day to when you started in post?

I started 21 years ago, so it’s safe to say that just about everything has changed. I worked for Flashback, a small independent company, and staff were expected to do a little bit of everything.

So I got to shoot, light, record sound, and everything in between.

STV was ‘hallowed turf’ for me back then and I longed to cross the threshold at Cowcaddens. I eventually started there as an edit assistant in the mid-late ‘90s. Working in that big broadcasting environment taught me a great deal. It also afforded me opportunities to build a career. I expressed an interest in directing, and my chance soon came up. I got to ‘drive’ the huge Studio ‘A’ there, and when I first sat in the ‘hot seat’ in the production gallery it felt like taking the controls of a 747.

From STV to the BBC at Queen Margaret Drive, and the helm of a big, network kids’ gameshow. Having come from commercial TV, entering the BBC was a major shock to the system. There was so much money sloshing about! I recall being firmly put in my place on my first day in the office: I had got up to use the photocopier and was told in no uncertain terms that it was not my job. To be fair, I had more time to get on with directing, so the shift in culture eventually made sense.

For me, the biggest changes are physical, therefore. The two TV headquarters we had in Glasgow – STV and BBC Scotland – and which felt so permanent, were not so. Just look at BBC Television Centre  in London now; who would ever have imagined that closing?

How do you see the job evolving?

I suppose I have ‘hedged my bets’ a little by looking beyond television. The freelance lifestyle is fine, but I did want to establish something which gives me an alternative and over which I have degrees of control. TV work is great fun and the technology allows you to work faster and really craft a show. I don’t want to give that up, and our new business allows me to transfer my skills. I also feel that I can bring best practice to the table, having worked within two big broadcast institutions.

What gives you most job satisfaction?

I recently turned 40 and in the run-up to my birthday I became very reflective. Is that normal? Anyway, I felt comfortable that I had exceeded all of my career goals. That’s wonderful, of course. But if you are lucky enough to do that, then you are left, potentially, with an ‘empty road’ ahead. I suppose that, subconsciously, building the new venture has been an exercise in ‘populating that road’.

I’m enjoying the day-to-day work at the office, my alter ego has a new series on BBC Two at the moment – Country Show Cook Off.  And, as always, there are plans for new projects.

The only constant is that I get to see many of my creative ideas come to fruition. That certainly satisfies.