EDINBURGH TV FESTIVAL WITH THE NETWORK

So, if you’re a naturally inquisitive person such as myself (or as our parents would call it,  a nosy cow) you’re probably wondering what the heck I’ve been up to these past couple of months and why I haven’t really written anything, well my friends I can now reveal all!

Well, my story begins waaaay back in like late March early April when I saw an email on my university account from the school of film about how applications for “The Network” were open. On a whim, I decided to apply as I saw it was to help people from all backgrounds get into television (you know that thing that stopped me from having any sort of successful social life from the ages of 5 till 18).

As a self confessed television addict from a young age, I was always gonna want to be a scriptwriter, however the actual idea of working on already established television shows had never crossed my mind as I thought it was ultimately a different world to mine. Then, I got told I was selected for the Assessment Day….

Having rather limited experience as to what telly folks look for I decided to dress like someone I knew in the industry, Alice Levine. For those not in the know, that means jeans, a nice blouse and brogues. On the assessment day, we were put into groups and asked to come up with ideas for a new programme, I guess I must have done alright as I managed to get through to the next stage! A day at Channel 4 in London!

For the Channel 4 day we were asked to submit a headshot of ourselves (hence why I posed like this….)

Thompson, Chelsea.jpgand we were also given a little written task on the nominees for this years Edinburgh TV Awards. When I arrived I did get the odd butterfly in my stomach as I saw the massive channel 4 logo outside the building, you know the same one you see on Channel four News. Then I had a little word with myself as if I got like this just around an inanimate object how was I gonna be at the festival with the likes of Joanna Lumley and Hugh Grant?!

Anyway once I checked in and was directed to a room that I can only describe as Channel 4’s dungeon (and a lovely dungeon it was!) it was a grand day, previous ‘networkers’ were there and gave me and other applicants a lovely talk about their journey since doing the scheme and then we were lucky enough met and talk to the producer of Graham Norton. To end the day, we had a little drinks reception and just generally got to know each other.

Then after a few nail biting weeks, I finally got the email that I had been chosen for The Network! The next few weeks flew by in a flurry of emails, form filling and excitement and before I knew it I was off to Edinburgh!

On the first day we were all introduced to each other and put into our workshop groups for the week. The workshop groups were a chance to give us as much experience in the different areas telly has to offer. I was put in the research group which meant I was making the VT’s for the live studio show we were in charge of on the Thursday, which was under two days away…eeek!

To look after the workshop groups involved in the live show, we had telly royalty Jane Atkinson, Production Manager of Strictly Come Dancing et al and Ewan Vinnicombe, editor of Blue Peter. They were there to make sure everything went to plan and they also assigned us our roles. For some reason, I was made the director of my group, god knows how that happened! My team was thrown right into the deep end when we were told the writer of Car Share, Paul Coleman was coming down and he would be willing to let us film us. In a frantic panic, we managed to quickly film some footage with Paul before going back for a talk from writer of End of the Fucking World, Charlie Covell.

That evening after checking into our accommodation and having something to eat, we all went back to the festival venue, The Edinburgh International Conference Centre or EICC for short. We had a drinks reception with the festivals other talent scheme, The Ones to Watch. The people on the Ones to Watch Scheme are already established in the industry in some way but are looking to develop their career further. The Ones to Watch also become the people on The Network’s mentors for the next year so it was really nice to meet them all in such a nice and chilled atmosphere. My mentor is Jess, who works at the BBC and shes been so incredibly helpful since I first met her.

We had a early start the next day and it was a day full of chasing down ‘talent’ that’s what we call the famous people in the industry, filming and then trying to find someone who could be the voice-over for our behind the scenes VT.  Personally, the idea of approaching people like Joanna Lumley and Iain Sterling and getting them to let us film them answering questions, sounded like something a woman in designer shoes and with a clipped accent would do, certainly not me, a scouser with a chocolate digestive addiction. Yet, I did it! and they were so kind and approachable!

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Also, Joanna Lumley smelt incredible. I mean, if elegance had a scent it’d probably be her breath.  The day went in such a blur that I barely had time to panic. At the last minute we had another VT that we were asked to make for the live team with a producer. After a little meltdown, we gave all the footage from the past two days to our team editor (Emma, incredible editor) so she could start editing and then did a last minute interview with Rachel Ashdown, who was amazing. After that it came apparent we had to do the voice-over for our behind the scenes VT, we wanted a Philomena Cunk style narrative so tried to get someone with a distinctive voice. Unfortunately no actual voice-overs where available so I kinda ended up doing it myself and in half an hour me and my teams scriptwriter had a script and a recorded voice-over!

That night we had a rather grand evening at the Royal Scottish Musuem, it was a great chance for us to practice our ‘networking’ skills we had learnt on during our time on The Network (see what they did there?) it was a beautiful do and I actually did find the courage to speak to a few people in the industry, which was great! Unfortunately, just like Cinderella, this networker and her workshop team had to leave early as we had to do a night shift on our VTs (did I mention the live show was in less than ten hours?!) despite the fact we had to leave the shindig early, I actually quite enjoyed the all nighter as the amazing editor who was helping us (James, great guy) bought loads of Papa Johns Pizza and we managed to get two VTs finished!

The next day was the big show day! and despite nerves and teh night of working, I somehow managed to get about four hours sleep before being at the live studio set for half 7 (yawn). After one last technical hitch (always happens in telly apparently) we had all VT’s done and delivered to the live studio team! Alls that was left to do was sit back and enjoy our hard work.

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For the rest of the afternoon, we got the chance to just relax and enjoy the festival. Of course, we had to show support to our fellow Networkers in other workshop groups and watched the Live pitch that the development group did in front of actual sky commissioners. After that it was time for the Edinburgh TV Awards and see all the amazing people that had been creating amazing television for the last year (how many times can I put the word amazing and it not get repetitive?) including the one and only Michael Plain, who was, dare I say it, amazing!

That night we could finally let our hair down as our work was finally done! We celebrated at Why Not Nightclub for the official  last night drinks. Unfortunately I didn’t actually get any images as I was too busy dancing and generally having a good time to even think about it!

And then like that, it was our last day of the festival! No one could sit around nursing their hangover too much (especially not the drama workshop group as they had their live Casualty script read through at half nine!) so it was to the EICC for checking out and our final talks with the talent scheme team, the amazing (yep, used it again) Campbell Holly and Georgia. The Casualty read through was on until ten and it was so good (especially for a budding scriptwriter such as myself) to see a script performed outloud, the words really do come to life. after that we had free time to once again soak up as much of the festival as we could! I attended the Steve Coogan talk and the Masterclass on A Very British Scandal which had Sue Perkins, Hugh Grant and Russel T Davies talking in it. Pinch me! Another great aspect of the festival is the fact you can quite literally bump into people you admire in the industry. I tried to be as cool as possible when I bumped into producer James Cooper, from the podcast My Dad Wrote A Porno and I think I just about managed to pull it off…you know right up until I asked for a selfie of course…

 

The final event we had to attend to as Talent Scheme Delegates was the CV Clinics, and this really was the most amazing (I will buy a thesaurus to discover other words I promise)  opportunity you could present to anyone wishing to start a career in televison. I saw two talent managers as part of the CV Clinics, one from ITV and one from the BBC and both were so helpful and friendly, I was overwhelmed with gratitude and information on how to go about obtaining various entry level roles in the industry and CV advice, which was just priceless.

Then just like that, my time at Edinburgh came to a close. We had one final farewell drink with Campbell, Holly, Georgia and the Ones to Watch and then we all made our ways home. To sum the week up in a paragraph would be like trying to put toothpaste back in its tube. Words just can’t describe. It was one of the most amazing ( it’d be rude not to use it one last time wouldn’t it?) weeks in my life and an experience I’ll never forget. Its much more than that though of course, I’ve been given a chance to enter a world that I always thought was off limits to someone like me, I finally received my Hogwarts letter, I walked through the wardrobe, I fell down the rabbit hole. And I’ve discovered that I can be apart of this magical kingdom, I too can be in the industry I’ve dreamt about working in so long. I’m now part of this Network and it’s going to be amazing.

 

 

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Author: Chelsea Thompson

Liverpool based Scriptwriter, Script Reader and Script Consultant. Offering feedback and helpful advice to all budding writers out there! As a fellow writer I know just how hard nailing that first draft can be, so instead of suffering in silence lets grab a cuppa and suffer together!

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