S4C's Sioned Geraint: children's is the 'best training ground' for a career in TV

Sioned Geraint is a content commissioner for children and learning at S4C and sits on the ScreenSkills Children’s TV Council. Her work at S4C covers the industry award-winning brand Cyw for children aged up to six and Stwnsh for ages seven to 11. She is also responsible for drama for teens aged 13-15.

Profile image of S4C commissioner for children's and learning Sioned Geraint

Before working at S4C, Sioned was a series producer and exec with more than 30 years experience in production for S4C, BBC and ITV. With single and multi-camera director experience in pre-recorded and live environments, she worked across a variety of genres – factual, factual entertainment, entertainment, children, live events and music. As a fluent Welsh speaker she works both in English and Welsh, has led teams big and small and is an industry coach and mentor.

Sioned also sits on the Children’s Media Conference Advisory Committee. Here she shares her insights on working in children’s TV, advice for freelancers and why she chose to work with ScreenSkills.

What made you join the Children’s TV Skills Council?

I joined the Council because I’m passionate about making sure that those who want to work in children’s media have the right skills and that suitable training is available to them.

What are the main objectives of the Council?

We look at the skills gaps and shortages in the industry and try to put focused training in place to address those shortages. We also try to support those working in children’s with further training so that they remain working within this genre.

How do you decide what to prioritise?

We prioritise those skills which are most needed within any financial year.

What are the challenges you see ahead?

The main challenge is finance. The budgets are small in comparison to other genres and it’s difficult to keep skilled people without them moving away from children’s content to look for better work stability and better rates.

It’s also a creative challenge for those working in the industry due to budgetary restraints. But that can also be a positive as it makes people think in a different and more collaborative way.

What is the most exciting thing about working in children’s TV?

This is a genre that gives the greatest pleasure and is also the best training ground for working in the TV industry. I have always made children’s content and I love it. I work a lot with children and seeing the effect that being part of a production has on them is the best thing in the world. It’s a genre that makes you laugh, you have fun and, more than anything, you feel that you make a difference. The influence content has on children is huge and knowing that you might play a small part in how children grow up to be adults is special.

What is the key area of training you would recommend for freelancers to help them build and sustain a successful career?

I was a freelancer for 20 years and the best advice I was given was to learn how to manage money and finances and how to save money for tax and for periods without work. On a more general note, I would advise anyone to sit down and think what their strengths and weaknesses are and to find training that is tailored to both. A person might find that they’re not getting work because of a weakness or that they may get more work by making the most of a strength. As a freelancer it’s important to look at yourself and address the training needs that you require at any given time in your career.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to somebody wanting to start a career in children’s TV?

You have to like children and be interested in how they tick. It’s very easy as an adult to think we know what they want to see on screen, but we don’t. So my advice is to get to know children, work with them as a volunteer or in any way possible so that you can tap into their world and make content relevant.

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