It was slightly surreal: receiving a message on my phone from Media Parents’ Amy Walker congratulating me for winning a place on the Back to Work scheme. Was she really telling me that I was going to be going to the Edinburgh Television Festival? In less than a week? She only blooming was!
They say it takes a village to raise a child, I would add that it takes no fewer folk to facilitate the removal of one slightly over-excited writer/presenter/carer from London to Edinburgh for four days.
The pre-festival networking coaching session acted like balm to my petrified-of-networking soul. The upshot? Networking is just chatting, and remembering that it probably won’t lead immediately to a job, it’s just a chat, yeah? Nerves soothed, we were straight into the festival.
The festival is a full fathom immersion into the world of television, surrounded by those who make, commission and present it. You are surrounded by the great and the good. Look, that’s Kirsty Wark! Look, that’s Peter Fincham. Look, that’s Stuart Murphy!
It was an inspirational trip, with the sessions alone being worth the cost of a ticket. Highlights for me included an informative session on sizzle reels: keep it long enough to cover the subject and short enough to remain interesting, and be wary of over-promising and thus shooting yourself in the foot come production.
Phil Edgar-Jones’ controller session was fabulously entertaining, especially as he had chosen clips with the aim of soothing sore heads (it was the morning after the big do, ouch!). His Sky Arts channels are all about celebrating genius in new and innovative ways and he is always happy to receive a short email with a programme idea.
Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith’s hour on how they create their shows was an insightful look at how much rigour they apply to writing and performing.
I have a funny feeling that it could be one of those career-defining moments, but it is a little too early to be making predictions. I will say that it was a full-on, exciting, experience that I grabbed with both hands and not a little gusto. I schmoozed like I have never schmoozed before. Thanks to Amy I have a meetings in the diary with not one, but two commissioners and list of agents to email, and CVs sent to the BBC, among others. Never mind the ready-made peer group of my fellow winners.
Thanks Edinburgh, you were splendid. 2015, yeah?
Radica Anikpe is now working in development at Channel 5 thanks to meeting Andra Heritage at the Media Parents Back to Work event. http://www.mediaparents.co.uk/freelancers/4077/radica-anikpe