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Interview with BAFTA Television Programme Manager, Kam Kandola Flynn

Joe SSprecher8 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.

BAFTA Trophy

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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!)
  3. Make content – e.g. short films, interview led pieces – as this shows passion and your creative eye.
  4. 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.
  5. Don’t be afraid of stepping sideways in job roles – take your time to develop skills and knowledge
  6. Be flexible if you can – it is largely a freelance industry. See everything as an opportunity.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Check our BAFTA Guru for insights from industry professionals at.
  10. 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.

Get into Broadcasting: TV, Film and Radio

Weronika ZBenning3 March 2016

As part of UCL Careers’ Media Week back in December, we held a panel discussion on careers in TV, film, and radio. See below for a summary of top tips from our panellists. The next Media Week run by UCL Careers will take place in the autumn term of 2016.

With panellists representing all three sectors (see here for bios), we heard some great advice about how to get into and progress in this popular and competitive industry. Some key highlights from the session are below and we would like to thank Kate, Eduardo, Matt, Anya and Alex for giving up their time to share their insights!

Advice
> This industry is all about ideas. Note down your ideas, develop them, base them on things that really interest you. Don’t be afraid to share them – even if someone takes it, have a new one ready to go! Make documentaries about interesting people that you’ve met.
>  It’s also all about storytelling and people still love storytelling – even though the mediums may be changing, the premise is still the same. Social media is an easy way to reach audiences – make videos on your phone and share them with your friends.
Network network network! Make it your business to know everyone and for them to know you.  Attend lots of events and make the most of them. Keep trying to maximise the changes of getting your first start in this industry.
>  If networking events aren’t your thing, make direct contact with someone and invite them for a coffee to have a one-to-one conversation. Ask them to recommend two people you should contact, and then act on that.
Play to your strengths – work out what you love and you’re good at.
Persistence is key! ‘Every day you persist is a day someone else quits’ – you have to keep trying (but be polite in doing so!)
Be prepared to go in at the bottom, work as a runner and make tea – just be good at it! Show lots of enthusiasm and talk to people (but also be aware if someone doesn’t want to be talked to!). If you ‘do your time’ in the lower roles, you will progress within the industry.
>  When you get to the researcher level, you will reach a “crossroads” and will need to determine whether you’d like to down the production route or the editorial side. It can be hard to move once you’ve decided so think hard about which you think is best suited to you.
>  If you want to work in TV you need to be able to collaborate, compromise and take criticism.
Find your local radio personality – each station will have different types, so what works for you? (Thanks to Kate Lamble for demonstrating her Radio 4 voice!)
>  Most importantly: Be humble, focused and strong-willed. Get on with people, go for what you want and stay true to yourself.

Opportunities
>  The Roundhouse in Camden has lots of great initiatives, such as production courses, mentoring schemes, projects and master-classes.
>  The BBC has various short work experience schemes across different areas, such as television, radio, journalism and business. You are strongly encouraged to apply for these.
Creative Access has internship opportunities to help those in under-represented backgrounds get into a variety of roles.

Resources / Useful Websites
Careers Tagged – a fountain of knowledge about various sectors, including film, TV and radio
BECTU – trade union for the entertainment industry
Prospects – a useful website for finding out more about different roles and sectors, see here for roles in broadcasting
AIB – Association for International Broadcasting
So You Want to Work in Television? – advice on all matters relating to television production, presenting and pitching.
British Council, Film – a detailed list of membership organisations
RSGB – Radio Society of Great Britain

By Rhiannon Williams

Media Week is coming…

ManpreetDhesi25 November 2015

Interested in media? Want to hear from professionals in the industry? We have a variety of events during our Media Week, 1st – 4th December 2015, that will give you a great insight into this popular sector!

Media Week

Panel events will involve talks from each panel member about their current role, their career path and tips on how you can progress. You will then be able to ask questions to the panel, so come prepared! The sessions will be followed by informal networking to allow you to follow up to any conversations started in the Q&A.

The schedule of events is as follows:

Tuesday 1st December

  • Panel: Get into Publishing, 17.30-19.00. Hear panel members discuss their top tips for getting into this notoriously difficult industry. Speakers include Dr. Nina Buchan, a freelance Science and Medical Editor, and representatives from Sage Publications, HarperCollins, Collins Editing and UCL Press.

Wednesday 2nd December

  • Workshop: Journalism, 13.00-15.00. Two-hour workshop run by News Associates, the top UK journalism school. This session will involve you writing an article in a mock breaking news exercise. Spaces are limited and you will need to pay a returnable deposit.
  • Panel: Get into Broadcasting – TV, Film & Radio, 17.30-19.00. Speakers confirmed include a Director/Producer/Editor for Slack Alice Films, a Lead Producer for the BBC’s Digital Storytelling Team, a freelance Series Producer/Director/Cameraman, an Assistant Producer for BBC World Service and an Account Director at Precious Media.

Thursday 3rd December

  • Presentation: What is Media Analytics?30-14.30. Media is changing. Data and analytics is key to delivering successful media campaigns and growing clients’ business. Find out more about this growing part of the sector in a presentation delivered by GroupM, global media investment group, and part of WPP.
  • Panel: Get into Marketing, PR & Advertising, 17.30-19.00. Panel members include Claremont Communications, Lloyds Bank, Ogilvy, Periscopix, & Gerber Communications.

Friday 4th December

  • Panel: CVs & Applications for Media Careers,00-14.00. Get top tips from industry professionals on how to make your applications stand out and what you can be doing now to increase your chances of securing a role in this industry. Panel members include Head of Commercial Marketing from The Guardian, the MD of Slingshot Sponsorship, an experienced media recruiter from SapientNitro and a guru around creative industries from CreativeSkillset.

If you are interested in attending any of the above events, please sign up via your MyUCLCareers account. We look forward to seeing you!

How watching films can improve your career decision making…

ManpreetDhesi18 November 2015

Careers thoughts can creep up on you in the most unexpected places – I went to see the film Brooklyn over the weekend. It’s a beautifully observed film about emigration from Ireland to the United States in the 1950’s. If you think that’s not relevant to you, think again. The film explores different factors that affect and influence our career decision making:  the main character Eilis looks set  to follow the same career path and way of life of her family and community, however, circumstances  propel her into a completely different environment as an immigrant to Brooklyn in the United States. Here she begins to forge a different  life and career. On a visit to back to Ireland Eilis faces a difficult decision about where she sees her future. My careers thoughts from the film? Taking time to gain a reflective stance on  our career decision making and gaining an understanding  of the  different influences that shape our decisions  will help us create the careers we want. Oh,  and  having courage to explore new ideas and ways of living.

What factors are driving  your career decision making?

– Kate Woods, Careers Consultant, UCL Careers

Interested in Film and TV Production? A Producer shares her story…

ManpreetDhesi3 December 2014

This post originally appeared on the Develop your Career blog

Kirsty Hemming, Producer at Swift Films shares some insights into her career so far…

How did you get your job?

I’ve wanted to be a television journalist since I was at school, so I got as much work experience as I could during the holidays. I did an undergraduate degree in Politics during which I ran the university TV station. Following this, I did an MA in Broadcast Journalism and got my first job as an Investigative Journalist at ITV. This was a bit of a baptism of fire, because my first assignment was working undercover as a cleaner in a hospital. I really enjoyed the experience and was given a huge amount of responsibility at ITV; I was very lucky in this respect.

I went on to specialise in investigative current affairs, working in places such as hospitals and nursing homes to investigate their care practices, or in other environments such as an abattoir to look into meat hygiene. For a couple of years, I moved into more fast-turnaround daily news production, working as an onscreen reporter for ITV and a producer for the daily news bulletins. The BBC set up a new special investigations unit in 2008, so I moved there and started producing half-hour documentaries for them.

I then got a job as a self-shooting Producer/Director, which meant researching, filming, producing and directing both short current affairs films and longer observational documentaries. At the end of 2013, I decided that I’d like to try working for an independent production company – something I’d never done before – so joined Swift Films as a Producer.

How did you decide what you wanted to do?

I’m really lucky in that I have pretty much always known what I wanted to do as a career. When I was about 15 I had the opportunity to meet Kate Adie and she was such an inspirational woman that the encounter really sealed the deal for me.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

My Politics degree gave me a really good grounding in current affairs, but my MA in Broadcast Journalism has been invaluable. We studied media law which gave me knowledge which is absolutely vital when producing news and current affairs films.

I also learned basic camera and editing skills, which I have had to build on throughout my career. Latterly, I have had to self-shoot all of my own material; certainly at Swift Films everybody in the team self-shoots and edits to a really high standard. I think this is becoming very normal within the broadcast industry.

What are your main work activities?

The company I work for focusses both on broadcast documentaries and also corporate films, so I split my time between the two. It has been a brilliant opportunity to develop my skills in marketing to produce online films for big organisations.

My work is incredibly varied; it can be as diverse as investigating the black market in kidneys for transplantation, to spending the day with an international law firm to develop a big recruitment campaign.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

Technology seems to move a lot faster in the independent production world, so I really have to be on the ball with the new equipment. The company I work for has just moved into 4k production, which is 4 times the quality of High Definition!

I really love learning to use the new camera and editing equipment, especially when I can see the quality of my work improving. When I was training to be a journalist a decade ago, I could never have imagined the extent to which technological advancements would impact on my job.

Career highlights/best moments?

My most rewarding experience was to produce and direct a special documentary, which exposed how the hospital bug Clostridium difficile had spread much further and infected far more patients than had ever been publicly reported in Wales. Involving secret filming whilst working as a hospital cleaner, it lead to the Welsh Assembly Government changing its legislation and extending its testing regime for the illness.

It’s good to know that when you find something bad is happening, it doesn’t continue unchallenged once your film has been broadcast. I am also particularly proud of a couple of observational documentaries that I self-shot, produced and directed for the BBC, which highlighted the work of under-represented groups. I feel that giving people a voice is a crucial role of journalists today.

Where do you hope to be in five years’ time?

I’m about to become a mum, so I really hope to be able to combine this really important new role with my work as a journalist and producer. It’s such an exciting time to be a part of Swift Films with new broadcast and corporate projects coming in all the time. I hope to be producing some really ambitious documentaries and award-winning corporate campaigns.

If you are interested in a job in TV and film production then check out the Careers in the Creative Industries facebook page and also twitter for job vacancies, news and more!

– Helen West, Careers Consultant, UCL Careers