Describe your involvement with the Unscripted TV Skills Fund
I’m chair of Craft and Technical Working Group. We cover craft and technical skills jobs within high-end unscripted television. We meet every three months or so and our goal is to prioritise training for our particular sector, within the budget limit set by the Council.
How do you decide what to prioritise?
As there are separate groups for production, post-production and development, our focus has been helping with training for shooting APs and shooting PD courses. With the research carried out by ScreenSkills and through a discussion within the group, these have been identified as the key objectives for us over the past two years. The first year courses have been popular and well received, hence the decision to continue them again, potentially offering them in some new locations.
What successes would you like to highlight?
The Step up to shooting AP course was originally planned for 54 delegates, but the final figure was 60 from across the UK with courses running in London, Bristol, Belfast, Manchester, Glasgow and Birmingham. We hit all of the diversity targets set, except for social economic - but that is one category that many do not respond to.
Our Shooting PD courses also took place across the UK, had 54 trainees and we have supported them into projects beyond the training. The feedback was fantastic. We had the chance to hear from one beneficiary who had been suffering from imposter syndrome which the course had managed to help her overcome.
What are the challenges you see ahead?
The uncertainty of commissions and level of commission in 2023 has had a big impact on both companies and freelancers. Hopefully 2024 is going to see more stability, but I fear it may take longer than that.
What is the most exciting thing about work in unscripted TV?
As a producer whose work is not only in TV, I may not be the best to answer this. But that said, what our team enjoys most is the ability to meet, learn from, get to know and understand a wide range of characters and stories.
What’s the best piece of advice you can give to somebody wanting to start a career in unscripted TV?
When you start out, the ability to watch, learn and then support the team is invaluable. Too many students don’t have real production experience – except for what they make for their course. I would recommend getting involved with local production companies, make your own films and be prepared to work hard.
What is the key area of training you would recommend for freelancers to help them build and sustain a successful career?
This really depends on what area you want to work in. However, if you have the basics in health and safety (first aid), plus looked at the series of short online courses available from ScreenSkills, they are a great benefit. Anything that helps to prepare you for working with a team, dealing with difficult people and soft skills.
Why work with ScreenSkills?
Why wouldn’t you want to? They provide support, often funded training, access into the industry and a wealth of advice.
What does it personally mean to you?
I was honoured to have been asked to chair the group. We’re not from a well-known company, we don’t have a stream of high profile credits and we’re from a region which is underserved in the sector. I just hope the group and the training is really making a difference.