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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

Head of Specialist Factual, Reef Television : Inspire Me

ManpreetDhesi26 August 2015

As part of our #UCLInspireMe series, Ben Weston, Head of Specialist Factual, Reef Television,  talks to us about how he got this role and shares some tips for UCL students who want to get into the sector.

How did you get your job?  After graduating with a BA in Music from Oxford University I tried but failed to get into television.  I was trying the route that everyone tried in those days – the BBC Production Training Scheme – but it was the most highly subscribed way to enter the business.  I ended up working in a PR agency for two years and then in arts administration for three years before getting onto Granada Television’s management training scheme aged 26 and relocating to Manchester.  I’ve worked in TV ever since.

How did you decide what you wanted to do?  I knew from my teens that television was something that really excited me.  I also knew that music was my biggest passion, so the dream job would be something that involved both.  But it took me many years to actually get to that point – by the age of 30 I was finally producing music on television and radio.  Better late than never!

How relevant is your degree to your job?  I don’t think any degrees are specifically that relevant to a successful career in television, but it’s still good to have a degree in something.  I’m a bit old-fashioned on this, so I’d also add that in my view a degree in a ‘real’ subject is more worthwhile than a degree in Media Studies.  The most important thing to work in the creative side of television is a sense of curiosity, and I think that’s better nurtured by the more traditional degree subjects such as English, Languages or Law.

What are your main work activities?  My job is fundamentally about coming up with great TV programme ideas, selling them to broadcasters and then overseeing their production and delivery.  Any one of those activities may be taking place on multiple projects at any one time so there’s a lot of juggling.

How do you use your degree in your job?  My degree in Music (insofar as I remember what I learnt!) is useful when I’m making programmes about music, but that’s not always the case.  I’ve made programmes about everything from nightclubs through to gardening and stately homes.  I think your degree becomes decreasingly relevant in your work as you begin to build on it with real work and life experience.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?  The long slog of pitching new ideas and the torrent of rejections one gets before winning a commission.  And the fickle nature of our industry which is riven with politics!

Career highlights/best moments?  I produced a film for BBC Two 10 years ago about the role music played in Auschwitz.  Making that film was without doubt one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life (let alone my career).  The film went on to win a hat-trick of a BAFTA, an Emmy and a Royal Television Society Award, so that has to go down as an abiding highlight.

Where do you hope to be in five years’ time?  To be running a creative and profitable organisation, making memorable output, staffed by happy productive people.  I think Reef Television can tick most of those boxes actually!

To find out more about careers within Television, visit Careers Tagged.

– Helen West, Careers Consultant, UCL Careers