Joint MD Kimberly was up at the Edinburgh TV Festival last week meeting with clients, freelancers and friends plus hosting (and producing) a panel on The Big Talent Crunch. Here are her highlights of the weekend…
It’s 3pm and the Festival has just closed. And I’m sad! Although I am sipping a glass of Merlot whilst I type to get over it.
This year has been vibrant, shouty, warm and tender in equal measure. As usual, I’ve bumped into clients, partners and freelancers alike, but there’s been something a bit different about the vibe. There’s a kind of Team America ‘fuck yeah’ feeling – be it about the important debates, about being back in the room, or about the magic and privilege of being involved in this industry.
It’s celebratory but cross with the right amount of fire. Here are my highlights from the week.
With ‘What Can PSBs do better?’ kicking off a fight between Fatima Salaria and Jon Thoday about chucking money at BBC3 problems, we were off to a feisty start.
Of course, Emily Maitlis’ MacTaggart needs a big shout. Amongst us there, we were speculating on what personal story she’d be drawing from given that Jack Thorne, David Olusoga, Dorothy Byrne and Ermando Ianuccci had all dug so deep in previous years (a brilliant session called the MacTaggart legacy with all of them present reminded us of that). It wasn’t quite as moving for me, but it was bold nonetheless. She starkly debated and questioned impartiality in the news, made us grapple with bias versus ‘both-sideism’, and whilst I did wonder whether she’d read the room appropriately when I struggled to keep up on the very specialist journalistic points, she spoke about some career defining moments she now reflects that she got wrong. I think everyone secretly wanted Prince Andrew intel though…
The session that Talented People produced and I hosted on the Big TV Talent Crunch got rave reviews. Stu Richards was predictably direct and funny about hiring talent (have you read any of his Broadcast articles?), shaking things up and pushing the audience to hire the vast number of talented, disabled people looking for work in the industry. Other big ticks were that Netflix support jobshares, All3 support freelancer development and everyone highlighted the importance of workplace culture and an inclusive environment. In essence, freelancers have choice right now, so you’d better buck up to be a genuine and attractive place to work.
The branded entertainment session was insightful, with leaders at Foot Asylum, M&S and Adobe discussing the pros and cons of sponsorship vs meaningful collaboration to create branded content. How telling is it that a fashion brand has chosen to create and publish an original dating series and a format along the lines of Big Brother online, neither of which directly or obviously advertises its products?
How can we fail to mention Ricochet’s entertaining ‘Edinburgh Does The Repair Shop’ session, where none other than national treasure and total legend Dame Judi Dench herself was onstage to see the result of craftsman Steve’s delicate reconstruction of her late husband’s pocket watch? What a treat. And with Craig Revel-Horwood’s sequined appearance with a famous West End prop that needed bringing back to life, or should we say death (it was the dead chimp from Sunset Boulevard!), it was a true celebration of wonder for a heartwarming format and the privilege of being part of this magical industry.
Last but not least, the Alternative MacTaggart with Rose Ayling-Ellis, who had the room doing silent applause every few minutes and giving a standing ovation by the end. With grace, eloquence and authority, Rose appealed for us all in TV not to see disability as a burden that means you need to compromise, but to embrace and celebrate its richness, and to ‘do nothing about us, without us’. Also, to echo Stu in our talent panel’s words – to seriously question why there aren’t more disabled people in our teams behind the camera.
Between sessions, I was recording the Media Podcast, which you can listen to here, meeting excellent talent on the Ones to Watch, and having drinks and discussions with the likes of Meta, Channel 4 and Netflix (hopefully resulting in work for you all!), so all in all it was a busy, punchy and epic Edinburgh TV Festival. Thank you to Campbell, Stewart and the whole team.
NB I wanted to give a nod to so many of you who’ve never been able to afford the time or money to come – as a freelancer I never had the chance to do so either, so I hope allows you to feel involved in what goes on. Although, now that I’m a 40-something year old Mum of two, clearly I haven’t covered the late night fun bits of it…nothing to do with ‘what goes on tour’, but because I didn’t make it there!
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**As a proud champion of diversity and equality in production, Talented People takes positive action to reach and represent marginalised or under-represented groups in the industry – be that race, disability, sexuality, gender, socio-economic background or religion, or indeed any other personal circumstance we can encourage conversation to support to get the best talent into the right jobs without prejudice e.g. jobsharing / flexible working requirement.**