With more than 20 Bristol-based media organisations and around 400 people in attendance, the RTS West of England’s annual Futures Festival was a hive of discussion.
The November event at M Shed in Bristol gave students and those interested in furthering their TV careers the chance to speak with production companies, broadcasters and post-production facilities.
While M Shed’s top floor flowed with conversation, downstairs hosted a series of short talks on TV production. The first was a guide to the elusive skill of networking itself and how to approach it without fear. “Even the most confident, experienced people can find networking really difficult,” Vicki Lines-Gibbs, Creative Director of Bristol-based Gritty Talent, reassured the audience.
Lines-Gibbs went on to run through the dos and don’ts of networking, emphasising that people should find a way to make it work for them. “Ultimately, you need to empower yourself to ask for what you need,” she said.
Kate Gorst of BBC Studios hosted a talk on entry-level roles. The panel included junior editor Joe Manning and Felicity Flashman, a camera kit co-ordinator, who discussed their paths into the industry. “The goalposts constantly move, you’ve got to be adaptable… and stay positive,” said Manning.
The final session was hosted by Vanessa Bewley, with Inka Cresswell and Prue Baker explaining what to expect working as assistant producers. “You should never be afraid to speak to every person in the room,” said Cresswell. “I wish I’d trusted myself a little bit more when I was younger,” said Baker, adding that her advice to her younger self would be to, “go for what you’re passionate about”.
As the event concluded, industry representatives left feeling positive. “It was a really good turnout,” said Simon Sofowora from Gritty Talent. “It was uplifting to see so many people who are either new entrants into the industry, or people who are trying to further their careers, with so much enthusiasm.”
For attendees, the event offered reassurance after recent news of strikes and job instability. “In the middle of a low point for the industry, this has been a really positive and really exciting event,” said Olivia Merrick, a film-making student at the University of the West of England.