Edinburgh TV Festival was 72 hours not to be forgotten, with so many broadcasting bosses and talent under one roof, it was going to be a thought-provoking few days writes Media Parents Back to Work Winner, Casting Producer, Joanna Gretton. Joanna was kindly sponsored at Edinburgh by Raw TV.
My bags were packed, I waved farewell to the kids and embarked on a journey into the unknown – the 44th Edinburgh TV Festival. I felt excited if not slightly daunted about whether the industry had changed, there were questions that I wondered whether I’d find the answer to. Which production companies be open to part time casting producer job share roles? Who would I be able to secure meetings with and was I going to make meaningful connections to follow up?
I was instantly reassured. On arrival I had a warm welcome from Sarah Murch, MD of the award winning regional Indie, Blakeway North, a long-time Media Parents supporter. Encouraging me to get in contact with my CV, she said she would be happy to share her London factual contacts book. It felt like I was moving in the right direction.
Memorable moments were meeting Oscar winner Simon Chinn, producer of ‘Untouchable’, a film about Harvey Weinstein, and Dan Reed Director of ‘Leaving Neverland’. The first lecture I attended, “Making of a Mega Doc” was a lively discussion on the impact of Netflix and the competition it had created.
Dorothy Byrne, Head of News and Current Affairs at CH4 brought the house down delivering her hugely insightful MacTaggart Lecture. I implore you to watch it back on You Tube. Speaking out she used the lecture to brandish our politicians for being liars.
Thanks must go to Pat Younge, MD at Sugar Films, who was warm and encouraging. As a boss he said that Indies now wanted to employ people who had come back after a career break as they were keen to have a ‘safe pair of hands’ on board, someone who could get the job done. I felt reassured that my 15 years of telly experience was going to count and put me back on the career path I once adored.
Another hot bed for discussion was during the Steve Hewlett Debate: Duty of Care. Many questions were asked about who has responsibility when the cameras stop filming? There was a strong panel line up, including amongst others the reality TV star Jeff Brazier. It was an eye opener to hear his first hand experiences. The new incoming OFCOM rules proposed to protect vulnerable TV participants meant that it could reduce diversity on screen, saying “A Jade would never be given that opportunity again”. It made me realise that as a programme maker, one should always care deeply about people voices being heard, but raised the question of how does one protect the contributors after the show has TX’d (e.g. on social media). This this was a conversation that did not have a clear answer.
I can honestly say that my first experience of the Festival has certainly given me an insight back into the telly world, thank you to Raw for sponsoring me on this insightful journey via the Media Parents Back to Work Scheme. For me, it has opened up the world of TV again – there are P/T casting producer job-share roles, I just need to look for them, and having met a jobshare partner via the Media Parents Job Share event there is nothing holding me back. The networking circuit at the Festival also presented me with many opportunities to meet the right people and I will be following up in coming weeks and months. I would also be keen to hear from other potential casting job share partners.