The National Youth Film Academy and the curious case of the Trustpilot reviews…

Ever wondered how the NYFA manages to secure so many glowing reviews on Trustpilot when its courses have come in for such negative opinion elsewhere?

Then wonder no longer. The answer lies in an email from NYFA founder Rob Earnshaw to former course members, offering to cross their palms with silver if they convey lots of warm words about their experience:

I am writing to ask if you would be able to leave a review of the National Youth Film Academy on Trust Pilot?” he says.

“The reason we have created a Trust Pilot account is so that we can share with future employers and members success stories from our company. We are writing to past Members, Tutors, Parents, assistants and Mentors. The more positive reviews we have, the easier it is for us to engage with employers so as to build the reputation of the NYFA and the Members we represent”.

In case it isn’t clear what he wants, he goes on to say:

If you could leave a positive review about your experience it would be greatly appreciated

And in case you were wondering why you should bother to do that, the answer lies in nice big bold letters at the end:

We would like to offer you £25.00 for your time. Once you have created your review, please can you email me back a link to your review along with your bank details and I shall ensure that monies are paid within 2 working

So those Trustpilot reviews aren’t exactly impartial evidence of the quality of its courses then. Worth remembering if they should tempt you into forking over large sums of money for their (much lambasted) offering in the future.

Mamma Marketing “internships”

Big red flags are waving over adverts which have started appearing on various job sites over the past few weeks, all posted by an organisation called “Mamma Marketing“.

This company appears to be basing its business model on hiring “interns” to work for them to edit videos for their clients. Adverts for writers have also been appearing, based at a variety of different locations, the common theme being that those who are lucky enough to be selected will have the opportunity to receive feedback on the work they do for Mamma’s clients.

There is no mention of pay on any of these adverts (despite asking for a year’s experience) and the company isn’t answering the question either, the postings simply suggesting that paid work might be possible after 3-6 months. Coincidentally the company is also offering new business clients the opportunities of testing their services for a six month trial priced “at only a fraction of what the vast majority of digital agencies ask for“. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to join the dots here on how the company may be able to offer such a cheap service for new business…

So a warning then: if you are thinking of applying for an internship at Mamma Marketing, you may wish to check whether you will be paid for your work on their client business (and you should expect a reasonable rate for skilled work). And if you are a potential client you may wish to ask how this very cheap introductory offer is being funded.

Mamma Marketing – beware!

Blazing Star Productions. Sebastian Nanena and Will Murray-Obodynski.

A warning to anyone considering working for this company or these individuals in the future.

Blazing Star Productions have recently recruited a number of freelancers to work on one of their films (“Death Do Us Apart”) and then failed to pay them. As such due caution should be exercised before embarking on any kind of financial relationship with this company and these individuals in the future as they are clearly untrustworthy in their business dealings.

While this may be a matter of supreme indifference to Sebastian Nanena, his failure to pay the people who work for him is now causing serious distress to freelancers. Three comments received from the many who have been left unpaid:

This situation with Blazing Star has greatly affected my mental health. I’m highly stressed, anxious and dealing with intermittent bouts of depression as a result of not being able to pay bills and live my life”. 

Not receiving the pay I am owed means I have been unable to pay bills, university fees, car fees, and have gone into debt. This has caused me to not sleep properly due to anxiety“.

“This is very distressing for me, I work very hard and try to keep my head above water at the best of times. However due to Covid and work drying up, i was super excited to get stuck back into acting and making myself extra money to cover the last year of struggling. At present, I have no money to be able to cover the costs of living, and the expenses which they said they would reimburse have cleared whatever little money i had set aside. I provided my services, my time and my personal money to cover travel etc, and unfortunately now I’m being ignored, avoided and disregarded. This is extremely hurtful and really has left me with nothing! Christmas sadly will not be a celebration for me this year”.

If anyone else has been left unpaid by this company please contact Mark Watson,

C/O Eam London Ltd, 215-221 Borough High Street, London, United Kingdom, SE1 1JA

Onecrew – AVOID!

And another one – another of those sleazy sites which seeks to milk cash out of hard working freelancers. 

The company trying to make a fast buck in this case is called “One Crew” ( and this one really does take the biscuit when it comes to cheek as its business proposition consists of charging you to make contact with employers who post jobs on Facebook!

Needless to say, no-one needs to hand over cash to any of these kinds of set ups in order to secure work in the industry – and (again needless to say I’m sure) it won’t cost you a single penny to log in and see all the jobs that are always advertised on Facebook groups anyway.

I’ve asked this company how their operation is legal given that companies are not permitted to charge for work finding services, however they didn’t have an answer to that question. Funny that.

It all comes to a firm recommendation then. Avoid this set-up, save your money and apply for jobs in the way that everyone does – by seeing adverts and sending in applications. You are wasting your money if you hand over cash to set ups like this lot!

TVCrewFinder – another site to avoid

Yes, another one – another of those scummy sites which pop up every now and then created by people trying to make a fast buck out of hardworking freelancers.

This one is called TVCrewFinder ( and it’s pretty much like all the other set ups out there that think it is somehow acceptable to charge freelancers for the right to apply for jobs.

We’ve asked the company how this fits in with the regulations that forbid any company from charging job seekers for work finding services but they didn’t have any answer to that question. Maybe the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate might like to take a look then.

Meanwhile however, freelancers beware! Paying money to these kinds of businesses is not recommended for three good reasons:

1) You should never have to pay to apply for a job.

2) Pretty much every job in the industry can be found on all the free-to-use sites anyway, including the numerous industry Facebook pages and all the sites here.

3) Paying money to these people keeps them in business and no-one (apart from the owners in question) wants that. Remember, when the sites disappear, the jobs still exist!

TVCrewFinder: AVOID! Do feel free to spread the word.

Share my Telly Job

This is a great thing – an online community built for freelancers in the Television industry who are hoping to find more flexible working contracts. It’s called “Share my Telly Job” and it seeks to enable people to be put together with like minded folk who want to – well – share their telly job.

There’s an event coming up on April 28th, where Share My Telly Job & Telly Mums Network are joining forces with ITV Loves Talent to offer a night of ‘speed dating’ for like-minded fellow freelancers who are looking to job-share.

So if you’re looking for a better work-life balance, pop along and see if you can match up with someone of the same mind because, as they say on the site, “we truly believe that the more broad and diverse the people involved in making TV are, the more enriched the stories we tell on screen will be”.

Current Job Share Friendly Jobs

And there’s also a Facebook group

Production Base – a warning.

Production Base is one of those sites which charges people to see industry jobs. It is also a site which has come under a fair amount of online criticism of late for their sneaky practice of requiring its members to sign up to a continuing authority to take sums of money out of their bank accounts when their membership elapses.

The reason this has caused some irritation is that many people who have forgotten that they have signed this authority and want to cancel have discovered that if they don’t do so in time they find they have had a large sum of money withdrawn from their account and Production Base then refuse to reimburse any of it even if it is a day after the renewal date and was clearly unwanted.

The company is of course within its legal rights to refer to its small print in this way but, as can be imagined, this has not engendered many warm feelings in the hearts of freelancers within the industry.

A warning then: if you have signed up to this lot, do very carefully check when the renewal date is and cancel well in time. You won’t be seeing any of that cash again if you get it wrong, even by one day!

Or better still, use this tip from an online commentator:

“If you’re concerned a new contract with a company might auto renew, send them an email immediately after committing to the initial contract period informing them you do not want to auto renew the contract, do this through a 3rd party email (Hotmail etc) to avoid claims of email manipulation”.

But also ask yourself this: do you really need to pay out any money at all for the privilege of being able to apply for jobs? Apart from the morality of any company charging people to do that, the vast majority (if not all) jobs are available on the abundance of free to use sites online, including numerous Facebook pages (just a few listed below), the Unit List., the free part of Talent Manager and all the companies that have their own Talent databases.

Meanwhile here are a few comments from some those who have posted online:

“What a waste of time and money”

“It must be the only way they stay in business because it certainly isn’t because of any of the services they provide”.

“Awfully outdated site no customer experience and not even a great wealth of work being posted on there especially if you’re freelance. All of which can be found for free”

“With anything like this, if the option is there to pay by card, do it. Then just change credit card company every year so old payments bounce and they have to contact you to ask for money”.

“I had the same shit. They auto-renewed without any form of notification to me and refused to refund me, despite the fact I’d not used their shitty website for 10 months. #C***s”

“All of these companies make money from people desperate enough to pay to apply for low-paid jobs. I wouldn’t expect scruples”.

“I cancelled years ago as it started advertising way low paid jobs and didn’t look into rates”.

“I too have been a victim of PB auto billing. I can’t be specific to other peoples claims but after some fairly flippant replies from them and a refusal to supply supporting documentation, I contacted my payment provider and said I’d been the victim of an unauthorized payment. They gave PB 30 days to prove I’d authorized payment, which they couldn’t and I got a full refund”.

“I’m stunned PB are still trading. With the number of quality, FREE, Facebook groups who don’t spam your inbox with unsuitable positions, and whose members will immediately jump on advertisers for ridiculously low pay rates, means I simply don’t see why anyone would pay for PB.
I know some people like it as an online CV location but you can get that for free on Linkedin”.

Here you go then: some lovely free-to-use pages on Facebook where you can fill your boots with job opportunities galore:

Runners and new starters in the industry.

Experienced TV professionals.

More experienced TV professionals.

Yet more experienced TV professionals.

Even more experienced TV professionals (and some good chat).

Northern crew.

Janet Marrett. Kashif Boothe. Mediathirsty Productions.

A warning to anyone considering working for either of these individuals or this company (

This company has recently recruited someone to work on a production and then failed to pay them the minimum wage to which they are entitled.

As such due caution should be exercised before embarking on any kind of financial relationship with either of them or this company in the future.

The mandy network.

There is a site called “The mandy network” which, somewhat hyperbolically, advertises itself as the “number one network for cast, crew and creative professionals”.

It isn’t of course, as anyone who has trudged through the pages of its unpaid “opportunities” will readily testify.

It also touts its services as being “free to join”. What you discover when you join however is that you are actually going to have to pay an upfront fee to apply for the jobs they advertise.

We here at the Watercooler have that strangely old fashioned view that no-one should have to pay to apply for a job of work.  Apart from being manifestly unjust, it means that jobs become restricted to those who can afford to pay to apply, with the obvious social consequences that entails. We regard companies that peddle that kind of nonsense as being no better than the leechy things that append themselves to unprotected bottoms in the high seas.

So our advice if you are thinking of paying for the right to apply for work is – don’t.

All the jobs worth applying for in the industry always appear on free sites such as those you find on Facebook. You don’t need to pay and you gain nothing by doing so. The only jobs that don’t appear on the free-to-use sites are the crappy “come and work for nothing for an IMDB credit” type operations. These are mostly not accepted on the reputable pages as they have no value on a CV and are a misery to work on, usually because you end up working till stupid o’clock for an underfunded, overstressed, inexperienced bunch of hopefuls making what turns out to be an unwatchable and unwatched short film.

In short then, our very firm advice is that you avoid “the mandy network” like the plague. Don’t waste your money on it, not least because if no-one pays, it will have to close. And if it does, those jobs won’t simply disappear, they’ll all just end up being available elsewhere for free.

And if you are looking for work, how about trying all these lovely free to use pages instead.