Createability recipient Samantha Tindall recently completed her internship with the ABC alongside Big Ted and Jemima on the set of Play School, as Production Assistant in the ABC Children’s Originals Team.
Samantha Tindall on the set of Playschool Photo by Hannah Mercurio (ABC)
Delivered in partnership with Accessible Arts, the Createability Internship Program is designed to develop strong career pathways into the arts and screen sector for NSW artists and practitioners with disability. Samantha joins an impressive line-up of recipients for whom the program has proven to be both rewarding and life-changing.
We spoke to Samantha about the internship and what it was like to work on the iconic Play School set.
Tell us about your experience in the ABC Children's original team, working behind the scenes on Play School.
My experience working in the Play School team can be described in many words, but the first that comes to mind is FUN! The people, the work, the environment…it was fun from beginning to end.
I completed many different tasks in my role as Production Assistant Intern. One of my first tasks was reading possible books for Play School’s Story Time series. This was interesting as it involved analysing the books from the perspective of a three-year-old and considering who would be the best person to read it.
I also observed and contributed to Writer’s Meetings for upcoming Play School series. This was a fantastic experience as I had the chance to see the process of a series from initial ideas to production. It was amazing to see how it goes from an outline, to a script for rehearsals to a final script for studio.
Another task I completed was delving into the ABC archives to find footage of old Play School episodes that could be used for social media and digital content. With my history background, I found it really interesting to observe how much Play School has changed and evolved over time.
But probably the most fun I had was when I stood in for a guest presenter who couldn’t make it to rehearsals. It was awesome to be part of that process and act and sing alongside Play School presenters.
I felt so welcomed and supported by the Play School team and ABC Children’s team as a whole, and can’t thank everyone enough for the time they spent talking to me about their roles or explaining the different processes involved in creating such a well-known and iconic show as Play School.
Was there anything that surprised you about the experience?
One big surprise came during the second last week of my internship during rehearsals for an upcoming series of Play School that would be in studio the following week.
The guest presenter was unable to attend one of the rehearsals so when I arrived in the morning, I was asked by the director and series producer to step in so the presenters had someone to practise with.
This was such a fun experience and I got an in-depth understanding about the rehearsal process and who is involved. It allowed me to observe the importance of spending time going over the script and making sure the dialogue and actions look good on camera.
What insights did you gain about the TV production process?
While my internship has seemed so short and gone past in a flash, the list of things I have learnt is extremely long! The number of people involved and the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes of a production has been fascinating to learn about.
It is amazing to see how all these people work together, and the importance of each individual and their input into the show.
The sheer amount of organisation involved has also been a major insight, such as the work it takes to cast presenters and fit them into the rehearsal and shooting schedules.
I have learnt that skills such as attention to detail, communication and being adaptable are important in this industry. Noticing continuity, being able to talk to people to find out their story or dealing with last minute changes are things I have seen during my internship.
Overall, it has been insightful to see how everyone contributes and works together from pre to post production, so that Australian children can experience the joy of Play School.
Has the experience given you any ideas about your future direction or plans?
Working with the Play School team has given me so much insight into the different roles involved in creating a production. I would love to work as a Production Assistant again as this gave me a taste of how important they are in supporting the team as a whole.
I am really interested in pre-production such as research and development, and all the work that is involved in creating a show before it even gets to studio.
Working in children’s television production was never really on my radar before this internship, but the amount of work and research that is involved is so important as the people creating this show are having such an impact on teaching very young kids and shaping their views. It is a responsibility that is not to be taken lightly and has given me a new perspective on what is involved when making television for children.
Why do you think programs like Createability are important for screen practitioners with disability?
Createability gave me the chance to experience a work environment that I am interested in, gain valuable knowledge about the television industry and create lasting contacts and professional relationships.
It provided real-life work experience, allowed me to develop skills, provided insights into the world of television and observe how the number of roles work together to create a production.
The ABC Children’s team opened their arms to me and gave me so much support so I could get as much out of this internship as possible while working within my means.
I believe a lot of positive steps have been made in the television industry to support people with disabilities.
I would encourage any organisation in this field to look at those applying for jobs, or those who already work there, and ask how you can support them in the best possible way through flexibility and workplace adjustments.
Even small changes can make a big difference.
When people are able to work in the way that suits them best, whether or not they have a disability, the whole organisation will benefit from it and it will lead to a much healthier, happier and inclusive workplace which will lead to amazing television content being created for audiences.
About the Createability Internship Program
The internship program is a three-year commitment delivered through Create NSW and Screen NSW, in partnership with Accessible Arts and various NSW-based arts, screen and cultural organisations to grow pathways to employment for practitioners with disability.
The internships span a variety of creative and technical areas in the screen and cultural sectors, including marketing, curating, production, front of house, arts administration, public programs, art department, camera and sound, writing, producing, animation and visual effects, and editing.
In 2023, the program is providing customised training for nine participants with disability, followed by paid internships in major NSW organisations across the arts, screen and cultural sectors.
Read more about the program including the full list of 2023 interns.
Image: Samantha Tindall on the set of Play School, ABC Children’s Original, 2023. Supplied