TV’s leading factual programme-makers and commissioners were in the hot seat at the latest RTS Futures event, coupling up with young people keen to make their name in the industry over a series of three-minute dates.
“You’ve got a short space of time with some important people. Don’t waste your time – get right in there, impress them and listen to what they’ve got to say,” advised RTS Futures chair Camilla Lewis.
Was three minutes enough time to get acquainted? Yes, reckoned Channel 4 senior commissioning editor David Glover. “You’d think that three minutes is nothing like enough, it’s almost offensive. And yet, one gets incredibly strong flavours in three minutes. You can tell a lot,” he told Television.
“When you’re starting out in TV it can look impossible, but suddenly one day a door opens. Hopefully, if you’re good enough, you never look back. Knock on the right doors in the right way and they’ll open,” added Glover.
Twenty Twenty chief creative director Meredith Chambers claimed three minutes was “the perfect amount of time” to get to know each other: “It’s is as long as you’ll ever get anyone’s attention in television. Sell yourself quickly.”
“Getting in is not the problem – there’s a lot of work in television at the moment,” Chambers added. “Somewhere, somehow, you’ll probably get a job as a runner or a junior researcher. The real issue is how you stand out [and get on].”
So, what should TV wannabes do to give themselves the best chance of making it in the factual genre? “Watch the output of all the channels so you get a real understanding of what broadcasters are after. Then, think about what you’re offering and how that would fit in with the channel, and create something fresh that you’re passionate about,” advised ITV controller of popular factual Jo Clinton-Davies.
Outline Productions managing director Laura Mansfield looked for “enthusiasm, curiosity and an interest in the world” in newcomers, while the Garden executive producer Amy Flanagan, advised: “Watch television – it’s no good having an idea if it was on last year.”
Flanagan was echoed by Mentorn creative director Mark Roberts, who argued: “Telly is in our houses every night. If you watch it, you’ll learn how to make it really well.”
The RTS Futures event, ‘Speed date the factual gurus’ was held in central London on 13 May. It was produced by Hilary Rosen, Rebecca Templar and Susie Worster..
Report by Matthew Bell
Pictures by Paul Hampartsoumian