Excitement and nerves merged into one as I arrived at the Edinburgh TV Festival writes returning Production Executive Katie Walmsley. And after an inspirational networking workshop with Media Parents, it was time to leap back into the world of TV.
The first seminar that pulled me in was ‘How to make a Green Production’ with Producer Rosa Brough and Trevor Vegera Lopez, Production Executive from Keo Films. It was great to learn about the Albert Certification @WeAreALBERT, an online points scoring scheme which rewards productions for implementing sustainable production techniques. A growing number of productions have gone through this scheme, including Downton Abbey, Coronation Street and Poldark. Great to learn that there are viable ways the industry can be part of the solution.
After a fun hour with Roy Walker and some of the cast of Love island for ‘Edinburgh Does…. Catchphrase’, it was off to the A+E Networks opening night drinks at the National Museum of Scotland. It felt rather daunting walking into a packed venue full of incredible talent, however it was easy to bump into people I already knew since my Production Executive days in Glasgow and I immediately felt at home. It was lovely to see Alan Clements and Kirsty Wark. I also reconnected with Paul Sheehan, Commercial Director, STV and Pauline Law, Head of Multi-Platform Production, BBC Scotland.
Day Two, and, determined to make the most of the festival programme, I darted to the ‘The Leaders Debate’ where Kirsty Wark certainly held some of the panel to account over the Commissioning processes. The difference between how the Indies and Commissioners view elements of the process was vast. From a production exec’s point of view there were some eye-opening revelations. For example 95% of commissioners said they had never asked an indie to start spending on a production without a green light, compared to 66% of indies that said they had.
‘The Michael Palin in North Korea’ Master Class was a powerful workshop, as was the insightful ‘Legendary Women in Television Reveal All’ Debate. Olivia Lichtenstein quoted Nora Ephron when asked what she’d tell her younger self – ‘be the heroine of your life, not the victim’ and my favourite advice from Dorothy Byrne, Head of News and Current affairs at C4 ‘Be pushy and ambitious and marry a builder’.
ALL3Media Talent Manager ‘Anouk Berendsen’ & I escaped the busy crowds and had an invaluable chat with huge amounts of encouragement for my return to TV. Anouk’s top tip was ‘Be confident in the experience you have and never apologise for taking a career break or for being a mum’. I felt excited for the future and reassured that I could return to the job I love and still strike the work/life balance and be there for my children.
The final session ‘A Very English Scandal Master class’ hosted by Sue Perkins including the very charismatic Hugh Grant was fun and informative and reaffirmed how important team dynamics are to the success of a production, both on & off the screen.
We wrapped with a fantastic CV workshop with Amy Walker, ensuring my CV really showcased my skills and abilities. The festival went in a blur and I’ve left with reaffirmed confidence, new contacts and some great meetings lined up about my future. I’m excited to meet my mentor Roz Pound, Head of Production at Objective Media Group next month. It was fascinating to see how the industry has evolved but it also felt like I’d never been away. Media Parents & All3Media have given me an amazing platform to return to television and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.