Interview with BAFTA Television Programme Manager, Kam Kandola Flynn
By Joe S Sprecher, on 8 January 2019
First of all, what does BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) do?
Our mission is to bring the very best work in film, games and television to public attention, and support the growth of creative talent in the UK and internationally. We do this by identifying and celebrating excellence, discovering, inspiring and nurturing new talent, and enabling learning and creative collaboration.
In addition to our Awards ceremonies, we have a year-round programme of learning events and initiatives that offers unique access to some of the world’s most inspiring talent through workshops, masterclasses, scholarships, lectures and mentoring schemes.
The UK boasts a wealth of talented people who could make a huge contribution to the continued excellence of British film, games and television. We want to ensure that this talent is nurtured and supported, so that talented individuals have the opportunity to succeed whatever their background, and – through accessing the expertise of their peers and established practitioners – reach their full potential.
And what do you do at BAFTA?
At BAFTA I work within the Learning and New Talent team who work with practitioners from the television, film and games community to discuss and define creative excellence in order to share the tools with wider audiences to make better film, games and television.
I manage and programme our television industry activity which ranges from industry focused debates and lectures addressing issues of the day, to craft-led masterclasses, panel events, Q&As, exclusive screenings and new talent initiatives. The aim is to share insights and expertise into the craft of programme making from BAFTA winners, nominees and the best minds in TV with a wider audience to develop knowledge, skills and talent. I also nurture BAFTA’s relationships with industry practitioners to ensure we are reflecting and supporting the work of the television industry, as well as working on our new talent initiatives which aim to discover, nurture and support the skills and development of the next generation of talent.
What did you do previously?
I studied media and cultural studies at Nottingham Trent University graduating in 2001, during which I did lots of work experience in media-related environments such as hospital radio and being a production runner for shows such as Big Brother. I also thought it would be useful to build up my administration/office skills, so I also pursued part-time work that would get these skills up to scratch. After I graduated, I moved to London and got a job as a runner in post-production then secured my first media job working for a company that programmed the in-flight entertainment for airlines. However, I knew that I wanted to work in television, so I applied for a role at Carlton TV (now ITV) working with a producer as an administration assistant – so putting those admin/office skills to good use! Then I moved on to Channel 4 as a commissioning assistant before joining BAFTA as a regional programmer, which eventually led into my current role (after a short stint working on the Edinburgh International Television Festival).
What do you enjoy about your role?
BAFTA rewards excellence in screen arts, and I love having the opportunity to not only work with practitioners at the top of their game but also supporting talent and skills development in TV, especially at a time where the industry is working so hard to try and level the playing field for anyone from any background or experience to be part of it.
What are the current challenges facing this sector?
The television workforce is not as representative of society in general as it could be. There has been a recent focus on diversifying the workforce and levelling the playing field across the sector in technical, production and editorial roles – so there are lots more opportunities around than there used to be not only to get into the industry but also to sustain a career.
With recent “Digital Disrupters” (as they are referred to in the business) such as online streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Facebook, the challenge is to make shows that appeal to younger people. There is an eagerness to find stories that will engage and be relevant for this demographic.
What are common graduate routes into the industry?
As an industry we have many routes in but for graduates there are training schemes and apprenticeships – you can find out about some of these via ScreenSkills the industry-led skills body for the UK’s screen-based creative industries. All broadcasters like BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky and Channel 5 advertise their opportunities online, and places like the Unit List and Talent Manager promote jobs. However, you can also get in via junior roles such as runners, researchers or production assistants. Everyone has their own routes.
What would be your top tips for getting into this industry?
- Build your network! As much as possible in your own relevant area of interest. This should include peer-to-peer relationships, as these may be your future collaborators.
- Get as much work experience as you can – including developing ‘soft skills’ (like teamwork and communication) as these are important. Be hardworking, nice and talented (or at least two of those!)
- Make content – e.g. short films, interview led pieces – as this shows passion and your creative eye.
- Think about your own unique selling points – e.g. if you have an interest in cooking or medieval art or can speak Italian then hone that knowledge, be passionate – this knowledge will come into use.
- Don’t be afraid of stepping sideways in job roles – take your time to develop skills and knowledge
- Be flexible if you can – it is largely a freelance industry. See everything as an opportunity.
- Although London has been traditionally been the place to be, content hubs are expanding and growing all over the UK in places like Salford, Bristol, Leeds and Glasgow. These will be great places to start your career and build up your skills.
- Think outside of editorial roles, and into craft areas where there are particular skills gaps such as visual effects or editing. E.g. see BAFTA’s Television Craft Awards for a range of potential roles.
- Check our BAFTA Guru for insights from industry professionals at.
- Be you – that’s the best quality you have.
BAFTA offers internships as well as permanent and freelance roles in administration and event production – to see what currently is being offered, they advertise on the BAFTA Jobs website and on Twitter and Facebook
Written by Sally Brown – Careers Consultant at UCL Careers
This blog was written as a follow up to our Media Themed Week. Find out more about upcoming Themed Week events on our website.