Earlier this year I was selected as a Media Guardian “One To Watch” for the Edinburgh International Television Festival (MGEITF), the television industry’s largest annual gathering. There were Masterclasses from those who have made the best television of the last year, talks on the latest developments and, most importantly, networking!
30 of us were selected for Ones To Watch – supposedly future leaders of British television(!) So, as I boarded the East Coast mainline at Kings’ Cross, I was rather intimidated by images in my head of dashing, super-intelligent individuals who already had a few BAFTAs under their belt – and me feeling rather feeble in comparison. Fortunately the wine and food on the train helped me to relax en-route, and I arrived in Edinburgh rather more mellow (and half-cut) than when I left London.
Our first evening involved free pink cider and getting to know each other – it turns out that the others are dashing, super-intelligent and successful, but not nearly as intimidating as I feared. In fact, they’re all rather lovely. It was the chance to meet people from different branches of an industry that often feels like dozens of mini-industries: developers in comedy; content creators in online sport; schedulers in cable television; and strategy managers in online development. It was invaluable… and comforting.
I realised that I’m not the only one worried about where to go next in my career. I’m not the only one who sometimes feels out of my depth. And I’m not the only one intimidated by the options in front of me. On our first day, we had several workshops and sessions put on specifically for us. They ranged from Future Television, to business sense and taking risk, and a great talk from David Glover, Factual Commissioning Editor for C4, who raised everyone’s aspirations when he explained the importance of keeping television entertaining by crashing planes!
The sessions that were specific to OTW allowed the speakers to be much more honest than in the main festival, and really say what they feel without having to soften it for the ears of journalists. Jay Hunt, CCO of Channel 4 gave us some great tips on how to find good people to work for, and how to keep yourself growing in an industry that has surprising levels of stagnation.
One of the best sessions for me was “Who Needs A Commission Anyway?” which covered direct-to-audience programming via YouTube. It was great to see Jamal Edwards on stage, who has been breaking conventions for a few years, and who I’d love to work with at some point. I caught up with Jamal afterwards and managed to grab a quick iPhone clip with him.
Overall, it was a great few days, but the real value was in the other people on the course. A really great and talented bunch, who I’ll be sure to stay in touch with – if only to get a job when they are running Endemol or the Beeb. Naturally, we took advantage of all the free booze on offer from the corporations, and managed to make our way to Edinburgh’s finest establishment…. The Hive!!!
I travelled from London to Edinburgh by rail with East Coast Trains: advance return fares, booked online, start from £33 Standard Class or £95 First Class: book via www.eastcoast.co.uk, call 08457 225225 or visit any staffed station.