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How to break into television

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13 April 2017

With diversity high on TV’s agenda, Televisual rounds up industry schemes and training opportunities for new and emerging talent

"We are holding our doors wide open to new voices, new experiences and new faces that reflect who we are and who we will be and the creativity of this amazing nation."

So said BBC director general Tony Hall last month, at a BBC event where he - and co-host Idris Elba - unveiled a hotlist of over 200 emerging and diverse new talents, and announced initiatives to attract new talent to the corporation.

Held at Phonica Records in Soho, the event was packed with many of the 200 new talents as well as senior BBC execs. Many of those there said it underlined that the senior echelons of the BBC are serious about engaging with new and diverse talent.

Making this happen in practice, though, can be trickier - particularly in TV where hiring decisions are often made on a who-you-know basis.

The TV industry, of course, has made some progress since Lenny Henry called for legislation in 2014 to boost the low numbers of BAME people on and off screen.

However, the BBC and other broadcasters have been criticised for slow progress. Last month, Ofcom boss Sharon White said there should be "tougher, stronger" regulation to ensure the BBC and other broadcasters reflect the diversity of the UK, and refused to rule out imposing quotas.

So how does the industry attract new and diverse talent into its ranks? The launch last August of the Creative Diversity Network's Project Diamond diversity monitoring initiative has helped to focus minds, even if it has run into difficulties amid a boycott from Bectu and The Writers' Guild.

There has also been a flurry of industry activity around diversity, with the launch of a variety of new talent and diversity schemes at indies big and small from All3Media and Argonon through to Idris Elba's Green Door Pictures and Warner Bros and Wingspan Productions.

Endemol Shine, for example, offers 16 paid placements through diversity training body Mama Youth. All3Media works with DiVA, its apprenticeship partner, in placing new entrants. It also backs C4's Production Scheme as well as Pact's lndie Diversity Training Scheme. All3Media COO Sara Geater says: "All3Media proactively engages in various industry initiatives to encourage upcoming talent."

The lndie Diversity Scheme in London, run by Pact, brings together some of the top indies to provide a mentoring, networking and training plan for around 12 new talented individuals to the industry every year (pictured above).

Bella Lambourne, HR and operations director at Endemol Shine UK, calls it "a magic combination of work opportunity, bespoke industry training, mentoring and collaboration between Indies."

Since launching in 2013, Pact says that out of the 44 diverse young people placed with indies, 38 are still working in the industry in roles such as junior producer, assistant producer and casting researcher.

Next month, Pact is to launch a similar training scheme in Scotland, funded by indies STV Productions, Tern TV, !WC, Lion, Raise The Roof and Mentorn Media. John McVay, CEO of Pact, says: "The lndie Diversity Scheme in Scotland highlights our commitment to supporting the creation of sustainable and diverse talent bases in the Nations and Regions."

However, one issue facing new and diverse talent is that there are lots schemes on offer to help them into the industry, but they are run by many different organisations. A good source that lists many of the schemes is Pact's Diversity microsite. Broadcasters also have their own dedicated talent pages.

Here's a selection of the key industry schemes, training opportunities and web sources for new and diverse talent:

4 Talent Channel 4's portal for new talent, listing initiatives including an Apprenticeship Programme through to the Production Training Scheme, a 12-month paid placement aimed at groups underrepresented in TV. C4 is also going on the road to look for new talent, with C4 Pop Up fairs in Birmingham, Bristol and Belfast in April.

Bafta Scholarships Recipients get course fees for postgrad study, funded by Warner Bros, and work placements within Warner Bros.

BBC Details of the BBC's Apprenticeship & Trainee Schemes can be found on the BBC Careers site. BBC initiatives include the Production Trainee Scheme, Production Apprentice Scheme, and Extend in Digital News, a BBC News development initiative for journalists with disabilities. The BBC has just announced a number of new diversity initiatives, including The Hub (based in Birmingham), the Disabled Presenter Development programme and Class Act, a training scheme for 30 disabled actors.

CTBF The Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund has three schemes to support new talent: the John Brabourne Awards, the Betty Box and Peter Rogers Comedy Writing Programme and the CTBF Richard Attenborough Scholarship for the NFTS.

Creative Access Creative Access provides opportunities for paid internships in the creative industries for talented young people from BAME backgrounds. Creative Diversity Networks Commissioner Development Programme Industry programme to widen the diversity of commissioning at broadcasters including C4, ITV, CS, Sky and BBC.

Creative Skillset The industry training body offers a number of schemes, including The Creative Skillset Production Coordinator Programme, aimed at those wanting to pursue careers in production  management, and Trainee Finder, which offers training placements in animation, film, games, TV and VFX.

Edinburgh TV Festival The industry conference and networking event offers two highly regarded schemes: The Network, with 60 places aimed at those looking to start in TV; and Ones to Watch, which has 30 places for rising stars of the TV industry. Both offer access to the festival, as well as mentoring. The schemes are open for entry this year until the 28th April.

lnterMedia UK An LGBT network group, with a mentoring scheme.

ITV The broadcaster offers a number  of programmes, including: a 12 month Apprenticeship Programme; Your Experience, work experience for 14-17 year olds; Breaking Into News, an initiative run by the Media Trust in partnership with ITV News and ITN to discover hidden media talent; and the ITV News Traineeships.

Leonard Cheshire Disability Runs a programme of summer internships called Change 100 once a year, aimed at students and graduates with disabilities.

Mama Youth Project Well-respected training organisation, with a particular focus on underrepresented groups, aimed at equipping young people with skills and experience to secure jobs in TV and media. Organisations like Sky, the BBC, Endemol Shine, Hat Trick, Fremantle and Procam TV have backed the charity, which is set to train 78 people this year.

Media Trust The communications charity also provides skills-based training opportunities for you people in addition to a six-week mentoring programme.

Pact lndie Diversity Training Scheme A sixmonth paid scheme, offering a first step into the TV industry for young people (see above).

RTS The Royal Television Society offers two bursary schemes each year to undergraduates from lower income backgrounds intending to pursue a career in television: Television Production and Broadcast Journalism Bursaries, and Technology Bursaries. It also runs RTS Futures, an annual entrylevel training fair.

Sky The broadcaster has a range of youth programmes. It supports Mama Youth (see above); Starting Out, a youth employment initiative that offers work experience, apprenticeships and graduate schemes; and Fast Forward, a programme for school leavers in Hounslow to spend 11 months in one of Sky's content areas.


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