‘Huge’ boom in unscripted

‘Huge’ boom in unscripted

By Beth Watt,
Wednesday, 16th November 2022
Susan Calman’s Grand Day Out (credit: Channel 5)
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ScreenSkills, in partnership with RTS Scotland, held an unscripted television networking event last month, the first of a series of themed nights open to anyone trying to break into the film and TV industry.

The three-hour speed networking evening, “The big connection”, saw guests being allocated a table and visited by professionals at eight-minute intervals, with everyone given the opportunity to introduce themselves and ask questions.

Sarah Joyce, head of unscripted at ScreenSkills, explained the choice of the evening’s theme: “Sometimes, people don’t really understand what unscripted TV is, or… appreciate that there’s such a breadth of content.

“It’s kind of misunderstood and overshadowed by drama, which is a lot showier and has bigger budgets, so it’s nice to raise a bit of awareness and for people to realise that there is a career path here.”

Discussing the health of the unscripted industry in Glasgow, Laura MacKay, production talent manager at IWC Media, which makes Susan Calman’s Grand Day Out, said: “It’s huge, absolutely huge. A lot of the big London production companies have opened offices here.” That, she said, meant they were reaping the benefits of the national and regional quotas.

“A lot of that is quiz shows and shiny entertainment,” she said, “but the bread and butter in Glasgow is unscripted.”

Asked about the demand for employees, MacKay said: “The industry is thriving right now in Glasgow. There is more work than people.”

Film and TV graduate Abby Hinkley spoke at the event about her experience: “The biggest thing I learned was to not be afraid when reaching out. A lot of people said, email me and we can go for a coffee and a chat, which is just priceless [advice]. It’s such a small and simple gesture but it means everything to someone like me who is just starting out in the industry.”

She continued: “I never knew how many production companies there were in Glasgow – around 70, I understand – which is essential information for people like myself.”

Kate Efomi, ScreenSkills representative for Scotland, spoke about the objectives of the event: “If one person gained employment as a result of tonight that would make it a success, although I suspect a lot more will come of this.”

Report by Beth Watt.

RTS scholar and student committee member Colin MacRae devised the speed networking format for the event at BBC Scotland studios.