Essentially, his point was that to make way for the fresh-faced in this industry, we need to ditch the wrinklies.
Not surprisingly, his comments met with cries of ‘ageism!’ and ‘sexism!’ Yet exactly how new talent breaks into this industry is a perennial problem. Forget whether the golden oldies are hogging all the plum jobs or not, the more immediate questions are: do you have to be from the right background/part of the country/university? Do you need to know someone?
It’s ironic that an industry obsessed with youth and keen to appeal to increasingly fickle 16-34-year-olds makes it tricky not just to get in, but crucially to get on. Attending an RTS Futures event last year, an AP with a string of decent credits told me he was on the brink of quitting as he could not see how to progress his career, and as a freelancer, felt there was little support from employers. His remark prompted similar comments from the other 20-somethings in the room.
This is why we’re keen to extend the aims of one of the festival’s new talent initiatives, Ones to Watch. Traditionally, we’ve focused on identifying and supporting tomorrow’s leaders; now we want to find tomorrow’s responsible leaders. We want to find people who are not just determined to make great telly, but determined to make a difference to their industry, whether it’s around diversity, working conditions for freelancers or through a willingness to mentor others.
As well as benefiting the wider industry, those prepared to rise to the challenge will reap personal rewards: a free ticket/accommodation for this year’s festival and a tailored programme of events. Last year’s lucky delegates had their own Q&A with Breaking Bad’s Vince Gilligan and BBC1’s Charlotte Moore. They also joined an impressive network of alumni including: Myfanwy Moore (ITV), Kate Quilton (C4), Cameron Roach (Sky), Kim Shillinglaw (BBC), Katy Thorogood (ITV), Andrew Zein (Warner Bros) and current advisory committee members Anna Fern (ITV) and Neale Simpson (RDF).
We’ve helped over 4000 individuals to get in and get on in the television industry so far and we know that between us, we can do more.
The deadline for entries is fast approaching – 27 April – so recommend the best here: geitf.co.uk/onestowatch/recommend
Or encourage them to apply here: onestowatch-tv.co.uk
• We are also hosting a Ones to Watch surgery on Wednesday 23 April in central London. This informal drinks event is an opportunity to learn a bit more about the scheme and chat to our alumni about their experiences. You can register for your place here.
Lisa Campbell | Festival Director