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Thursday, 26 June 2014

Game of Thrones at GEITF 2014 | Lisa Campbell

“Edinburgh is the TV industry’s Glastonbury” said one of last year’s delegates after a 3-day bonanza of
creative inspiration and all-night partying.

This year, I’d say we’ve gone one better. Instead of ageing rockers taking centre stage(although rumour has it No Expectations might treat delegates with a guest appearance…), we are set to take you behind-the-scenes of the hottest, most-talked-about TV property in decades. Battle of Blackwater drum roll please….yes, it’s this year’s Breaking Bad – Game of Thrones!

HBO programming chief Mike Lombardo will head a stellar panel, giving delegates a unique insight into this
epic production. We’re announcing some other great names who are involved in the series very soon, so watch this space!

Meanwhile, TV news is engaged in a battle of its own with online services such as VICE, Huff PoLive, Buzzfeed and NowThisNews threatening the cosy monopoly of the traditional players. Alongside an impressive line-up of news bosses from all the major channels, we’ll  hear from award-winning American journalist Tim Pool, head of live news at Vice, whose unique style of interactive broadcast journalism exists at the intersection of social and mainstream media. He’s a
Tim Pool, Vice
great speaker and this promises to be one not to miss.

Our Bafta Rocliffe panel – who will come together to judge the best new British comedy writing – is shaping up nicely. Joining BBC controller of UK comedy production Myfanwy Moore, we have the comedy maestro behind Modern Family – Amy Hartwick. We look forward to welcoming the ABC Studios senior vice president to the UK to share her expertise with our lucky competition winners.

This year, we’ll also be bringing you a series of ED Talks – each of our amazing speakers promise to bring you a unique perspective on harnessing creativity – in just 15 minutes – perfect bite-sized fodder for our Saturday line-up. Recognising that we can be guilty of navel-gazing in the TV industry, we’re showcasing speakers from other industries and professions who will encourage new ways of thinking.

Among the line-up we have neuroscientist Professor Vincent Walsh who will tell us why away days are a waste of time and why we all get our best ideas in the shower and Dr. Paul Dolan,  Professor of behavioural science, LSE, renowned expert on happiness, who has developed ways of measuring well-being. He’s the man responsible for writing the questions that are now being used in large surveys in the UK to monitor national happiness.

Just the tip of the iceberg in a programme with some 50-plus sessions - and much more to follow. Keep reading our newsletter and following us on Twitter for all the latest updates.

Early Bird tickets for GEITF 2014 are available until Monday 30 June. Book yours now to save £114 on the standard rate.



Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Diversity is the real One to Watch | Campbell Glennie

Last week, Tony Hall revealed his vision to address the woeful figures facing BAME representation both on and off screen. The BBC target for 2020 for off-screen talent is 15% (up from 8.3%). While the BBC’s unique position has meant that it has had no choice but to act, we also hope that this will lead to other broadcasters and indies thinking about what they can do over the coming year to effect real change too. Whether the BBC’s training and development approach will achieve the results that Lenny Henry feels can only be brought about by ring-fencing, time will tell. I’ll join Simone Pennant in “raising a cautionary glass of Cava” and hope that progress can be achieved swiftly without calling into question the massive contributions BAME creatives already make to the television industry.


It is both an insult and a missed opportunity when the television production process does not reflect its
audience. As part of our charitable remit, our schemes strive to represent all groups and we have traditionally had healthy BAME participation, above both the industry and national average. However, after the disappointing statistics on BAME representation in the industry revealed by Creative Skillset last year, we knew we could do more. We have further shifted our emphasis to go out and find more talent from underrepresented groups, regions and backgrounds, through new outreach partners, and more rigorous assessment. We feel this is even more important at the Ones to Watch level: the level where diversity starts to fall away from the industry’s composition. We are therefore delighted to report that The Network 2014 final selection is 32% BAME (up from 21% in 2013) and more crucially this year’s Ones to Watch are 30% BAME (up from 13% in 2013). As you move up the hierarchical structures of TV and the media, diversity is often a casualty, which is why we are particularly proud to preserve diverse television careers as they reach maturity.

As well as increasing BAME diversity, this year’s Ones to Watch are 70% female (something we hope will be heartening news for Jay Hunt, who will be part of this year’s Ones to Watch sessions programme) and cover a wide range of roles from within the industry, from writers to producers to VOD schedulers. It’s impossible to create an accurate microcosm of the industry in just 30 people, but we hope that this year’s successful candidates will have their eyes open to new perspectives, ideas and approaches, and learn as much from each other as the senior level talent they’ll enjoy intimate audiences with.

If Ones to Watch was a Buzzfeed article – it would be called something like “30 Reasons Why The Future of Television Is Looking Bright”. So, finally, here they are: this year’s Ones to Watch. If you know them, be sure to send them a virtual pat on the back, high five, hug, hair ruffle or whatever level of congratulation you feel comfortable with. We are not liable for any injuries sustained during “the bumps”.


Natalie Alvarado, Adam Barth, Rosa Brough, Samuel Burr, Claire Cahill, Sarah Collinson, Jessica Connell, Deanne Cunningham, Anca Dimofte, Suzy Grant, Nimesh Joshi, Jen Kerrison, Grivas Kopti, Tara Magan, Matthew Marsh, Mog McIntyre, Alana McVerry, Datshiane Navanayagam, Siobhan Ni Chiobhain, Meriel Paisley, Emerald Paston, Sophie Petzal, Sophia Rashid, Helen Richmond, Sam Shetabi, Andy Sockanathan, Cat Spooner, Rocco Sulkin, Philippa Treverton-Jones and Annabel Wigoder

Thank you to our Talent Schemes OTW sub-committee who painstakingly marked the hundreds of applications we received and those who participated in our new interview and selection panels: Alex Ayling, YouTube Channel Manager, BBC Worldwide; Dominic Bird, Head of Formats, Channel 4; Lisa Campbell, GEITF Festival Director; Tamara Howe, Controller, Business, Entertainment & Comedy, BBC Television; Angela Jain, Director of Digital Channels and Acquisitions, ITV; Jo McClellan, Drama Development Executive, Sky; Viv Molokwu, Chris Shaw, Editorial Director, ITN Productions, Neale Simpson, Head of Entertainment Development, RDF; Ben Tattersall Smith, Social Media Manager, BBC; Sarah Thornton, VP, Production & Development, Lifestyle & Entertainment, Discovery Networks; Katy Thorogood, Commissioning Editor, Factual, ITV; Newton Velji; and Karl Warner, Managing Director, Electric Ray.


If you would like to find out more about the diverse graduates of our schemes, or would be interested in becoming a mentor to the next generation of talent, please do not hesitate to get in touch at campbellglennie@geitf.co.uk or follow us @OnesToWatch_TV @TheNetwork_TV or @campbellglennie

Campbell Glennie
Director, Talent Schemes

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Britain’s Got Talent (Assessment Days) | Campbell Glennie

Glasgow, Salford, Camden, Chiswick, everybody’s talking about pop music.  Apologies, I meant to say The Network talent assessment days at the end there. Cannot resist a rhyme.

For those of you who don’t know, The Network is GEITF’s entry level talent scheme, aimed at those with less than three months’ paid experience, but with a burning passion for TV, preferably bordering on the obsessive. You might know them as the inquisitive ones with bright eyes and bushy tails after your business cards at the parties. But our purpose is serious, we’re looking for new voices from new places. In short, we want to ensure that those who work in television are as diverse as those who watch it.

For the first time this year, rather than just use written applications to decide who makes it onto The Network, we packed up the GEITF Talent Schemes magic bus and hit the road during May to meet the top 170 of the over 1,000 applications we received this year. Our task: to find the final lucky 50 who will be joining us for The Network this year for four intense and fun-filled days in Edinburgh. While we hope the assessment days were instructional and inspirational for the candidates, we couldn’t help but take away a few things ourselves about the next generation of talent coming through.

Here are seven things we learnt over four days of meeting some amazing people.

•Gogglebox and Game of Thrones were among the most discussed programmes in our interviews. I’m taking away from this that titles starting with “G” connect with the younger generation. All I’m saying is a Going For Gold reboot could really clean up.

•Unorthodox interviewee techniques included winking during introductions. We would not necessarily recommend this.

•Ross Kemp may be known exclusively as a documentarian to anyone born after 1990.

•Bingewatching could be having a disastrous effect on exam results. I’m not saying Michael Gove will ban Netflix, but keep an eye out.

•The next generation are definitely hyphenates who are trying everything and teaching themselves. There were very few we met who weren’t self-shooter/editor/director/producer/actor/breakdancers.

•There are a lot of Emmas out there.

•There are more alumni of both The Network (formerly TVYP) and Ones to Watch (formerly Fast Track /
TV25) in the world than we thought. If you are too – please take a few seconds to let us know what you’re doing via this handy form – we’d love to know what you’re up to and you’ll get invites to our free quarterly alumni events.

Thank you to all the talent scheme committee members, talent managers and execs all over the UK who generously gave us their time to make these days such a success, and to Creative Skillset, University of Salford, University of Hertfordshire, BBC Scotland, Discovery UK and The Roundhouse for making them possible.

The final 50 have now been selected, and they’ll be getting the good news as you read this. So when you see a Networker at the Festival, say hello. If they’re trying out their newfound networking skills on you at a party, be patient. When they send you an e-mail asking for advice, help them out. Let’s face it, they’ll all be our bosses one day.

Friday, 23 May 2014

MacTaggart and the business of creativity

'Who's giving the MacTaggart?' is a question that's been fired at me more times in past weeks than you'd
care to imagine.

Rightly so, because it's a very important question. The MacTaggart lecture is one of the most high-profile & prestigious platforms on the global television stage.

The best MacTaggarts are rousing, crowd-pleasing, championing. Or they are fearless, angry, challenging.

The most memorable set the agenda not just for the festival, but well beyond, and often, take aim at a perceived enemy. Who can forget James Murdoch taking on the BBC, describing its "scale and scope" as "chilling"? It's a debate that has raged and raged ever since.

Other MacTaggarts call for change, some successfully. In his lecture in 2010, then BBC DG Mark Thompson called for broadcasters such as Sky to start paying for its services. Retransmission fees wasn't the sexiest subject at the time but Thompson's plan has since seen the light of day.

Others reveal a personal side to a no-nonsense exec - Liz Murdoch gave a rare insight into her childhood and family dynamics.

And going further back, you have legendary MacTaggarts - Dennis Potter; provocative MacTaggarts - Janet Street Porter; plain-speaking MacTaggarts - Paxo and as last year, perfectly-performed MacTaggarts - Kevin Spacey.

Which of these we'll see from David Abraham remains to be seen but for Channel 4, it is a long-overdue opportunity - some 12 years since Thompson's MacTaggart as C4 CEO.

With our festival theme this year being the business of creativity, Abraham is perfectly placed to discuss the meeting of those two worlds. We look forward to hearing his vision for maintaining C4's cultural impact in a media landscape that has changed more in recent weeks than we've seen in many years.

Early Bird tickets for the 2014 Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival powered by YouTube are on sale now.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Getting ahead in TV

This week, Directors UK revealed just how hard it is for female directors to find work in TV in a shocking new study which exposes vast inequality. Who’s Calling The Shots? Women Directors In British Television, analysed a 10-year period and discovered that across all genres, women are getting less than 10% of the work.

And taking 2011-12 in isolation, the numbers are getting worse.  Take game/panel shows, with 1251 episodes directed by men and just 21 by women – a drop from 5% to 2%. No wonder panel shows are so blokey and female comedians so reluctant to take part.

The good news is that Directors UK’s incredibly insightful study has been greeted not just with shock by broadcasters, but a determination to see positive change and I am confident they will rise to the challenge of ensuring that 30% of all shows are directed by women by 2017. Read the key findings here.

On the same day, across town, festival producer Adam Webb attended a writers’ roundtable hosted by Creative Skillset. There too the story was one of a battle to get in and to get on in an industry which favours big, established names and where the platforms for new talent are rare, and thanks to proposed closure of BBC3, shrinking. This is why initiatives such as Bafta Rocliffe’s comedy initiative are so vital and why the festival is lending its support once again.

At this year’s festival, two winning sitcom scripts chosen from new writing talent will be performed in front of delegates and judged by a panel of experts, including a comedian, commissioner and producer. Previous winners at Edinburgh and other events are signed to agents/production companies/are writing episodes for series such as Stella or are crafting their own series.


But the benefits for anyone who enters are enormous – detailed script reports reveal how to make improvements and this year, entrants will be given the chance to re-write their script before it’s read by a star-studded jury. Last year’s jury included the likes of Jennifer Saunders, Jessica Hynes, David Quantick (writer, The Thick of It); Andrew Newman (CEO, Objective Productions) and Myfanwy Moore, head of BBC comedy. So sharpen your pencils and your jokes and enter now. DEADLINE 19 May. bafta.org/about/supporting-talent/rocliffe/

Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Quick TV Questionnaire: Alex Ayling

There are plenty of chances for us to share the television we love on the GEITF blog (and also on our YouTube channel), but we thought it was high time we let a few other people have a go...

We asked Talent Schemes committee member and YouTube Channel Manager for BBC Worldwide Alex Ayling to share some of his favourite programmes, nostalgic memories and boxset picks, and found out why he'd want to be friends with House of Cards' Frank Underwood.


1. Childhood favourite?
There was a children’s TV show called T-Bag in the 80s which was about an evil witch who hid out in random pieces of junk (I think she was miniaturised or something) plotting nefarious schemes, but was always vanquished by a plucky young heroine who had to collect magic objects in every episode. It had series-long narrative arcs that changed each year and pre-figured the era of Joss Whedon’s “Big Bad” by a good decade. I remember it being very affecting to me as a kid, but I’m sure it has aged dreadfully – so have resolved not to look it up on YouTube!

2. The popular show I just can’t get into
Even though I ought to be slap bang right in the middle of its target demographic, I can’t quite seem to get into The Big Bang Theory. Perhaps it’s the sheer number of episodes looming ahead of me that terrifies a perfectionist completist like me... But I also just can’t shake the feeling that these nerds are being laughed at, not with, and that just sounds like being back at school all over again

3.The programme I have on series link It might be shorter to list the shows that I don’t have on series link to be honest, I tend to devour as much as I possibly can. This year though, there has been one show which was elevated even above series link status in our house, as I found myself tuning in at 9pm every Wednesday to watch Keeley Hawes’ amazing turn in Line of Duty. I can’t remember the last time I made an appointment to view for a non-live show, so they must have been doing something right.

4. The last boxset I bought was...
Game of Thrones S3 – I don’t have Sky Atlantic, so I’m about a year behind everyone else on GoT. Fortunately I’ve read all the books so I’m unlikely to be spoiled. And anyway, with that show you should go into every episode thinking that your favourite character is about to meet an untimely end, as half the time you’re probably going to be right.

5. Guilty pleasure?
I fundamentally disagree with the entire concept of a guilty pleasure. If you like something then you should be proud of liking it! I could list all the critically-acclaimed dramas and worthy foreign imports to counteract the next half of this sentence, but you’ll still not see me much more excited than when the votes start coming in from the Eastern Bloc during Eurovision.

6. Reality show I’d be most likely to apply for...
I’ve always quite fancied going on The Apprentice. Not because I want to work with Lord Sugar (we’re just not Twitter compatible) but because I think the tasks they do always look like loads of fun and the house they stay in is always preposterous. I’m pretty sure I could come up with some winning hyperbole so the producers could hoist me by my own petard during my inevitable downfall and I’d also do a great line in two-faced snarkiness about the other obnoxious contestants in the talking heads.

7. The TV character I wish I knew in real life...
Maybe it’s my masochistic nature betraying me, but part of me kind of wishes I knew Frank Underwood from House of Cards. If I did know him, everyday life would be that much more exciting – not knowing whether I was going to get a sudden promotion or a one-way ticket to purgatory (or worse!) but at least it would never be boring.

8. If my life were a sitcom, it would be…
W1A (even though I work in W12).

9. TV theme tune I can’t get out of my head
My colleagues who sit near me have said that I frequently tap out the percussion line from the Doctor Who theme, but the weird earworm that I can’t seem to shake right now is the theme tune to Adventure Time.

10. Cancelled show I wish they’d bring back
Twin Peaks. Bring back Kyle MacLachlan for the first episode and then kill him off (again?). Cast Summer Glau as a hotshot FBI recruit sent to the town to investigate the murder. Russell Tovey can play her on/off love interest and Jessica Lange would make an excellent log lady. David Lynch would produce, Vince Gilligan would script and Ben Wheatley would direct. Come on Netflix – what are you waiting for!?





Alex is part of the Festival's Talent Schemes committee, who are responsible for the editorial direction of the schemes and selecting their delegates. The members of the committee are individuals who have extensive knowledge of the industry and are passionate about the future of the media. 

To find out more about our two talent schemes - The Network and Ones to Watch - visit the GEITF website: www.geitf.co.uk

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Tomorrow's responsible leaders | Lisa Campbell

"Prune the raspberries to make way for new growth," declared broadcaster Michael Buerk this week.
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.

Good luck!

Lisa Campbell | Festival Director
lisacampbell@geitf.co.uk