“SuperSizer was one of the few places to get proper support and workplace development in the early days of Very Nice. Finding that kind of training if you’re outside of a big broadcaster or larger indie is incredibly rare, so I jumped on the opportunity to apply.
Andrew and I started the company knowing that we really enjoyed working together and had a strong track record. What we lacked was a sense of formalised processes for development or pitching, which was something really useful that came out of the training.
The kick-off to the course was phenomenal. The trainer had real knowledge of the business we work in and was almost like a management consultant for development executives – which is quite rare to find. The session focussed on tackling a brief in a more methodical way, rather than waiting to be inspired. It was about saying ‘how do we corner that creative process and make it as useful as possible?’ That also feeds into other elements of running your business – whether that be managing a production or business issues like staffing. This was the more formal part of the training that will stay with me throughout my career.”
“The access to commissioners offered by the course is invaluable. It’s great to get informal face time with them and get to know them. This helped us to transform the idea of a commissioner, from assuming ‘she’ll love that’ or ‘she’ll hate that’ to starting a conversation with them. It also tends to be that production companies all float around the same ideas because something is topical or everyone is inspired by a trend that’s happening across TV, so actually being able to sit with a commissioner and hear what they’re getting a lot of, what they’re sick of seeing and all the potential derivative pitfalls that you could fall into was invaluable.
Ultimately, the course helped me realise that the relationship with the commissioner works best when it’s a mutual relationship. They need to commission programmes and you need to make them, so if you can go in to those meetings and establish some kind of trust or mutual interest, then those relationships tend to develop better than if you don’t have that awareness of what a commissioner is.
The training in pitching and presentation has made me feel more equipped to go into a meeting thinking ‘you’re going to want to work with us’ and pitch in a more direct way, leaning to more of a sales pitch. We had a meeting with Channel 4 just after the course and based on the more formalised pitch I made about our company ambitions we were given an open-door invitation. We’ve now got a Channel 4 commission in production through that contact.”
“The visits to broadcasters and meetings with people in business affairs and audience insights offered a real panoramic view of the organisations, and left you feeling enabled and more empowered to put your ideas in front of people. We had a fascinating training session with Emily Allen from BBC’s Audience Insights department, shining light on keywords and trends that commissioners will be looking for in the next 3-12 months. I’ve been at large indies where they commission trend reports, so then you get that kind of intelligence, but SuperSizer offered thousands of pounds worth of insights, for very little financial contribution.”
Peer to Peer learning
“The unexpected highlight of the course was gaining a brilliant peer group, who I’m still in touch with now and still run ideas by. It can be a lonely existence in development, especially if you’re continually getting knocked back. Sitting in a room of people who you share a huge number of experiences with was really nice, almost like group therapy! At the end of the day we are all competitors, and I’d say that there was a healthy competitive edge, but it was hugely collaborative too. It was refreshing to hear that the experience across the nations and regions was a shared one – frustrations about it possibly being harder for us to get in front of commissioners and establish those important relationships, because we’re not walking round in the same neighbourhood.”
“In the first year of the business it was all about conserving and being as frugal as possible to keep the lights on. In the second year we hope to get into our stride and have a bit more of a formulated development structure so that we have routines with people. We’re now able to point to Mirror Mirror, which has been re-commissioned by BBC, as showcasing what we do. We’ve been working closely with Scottish Enterprise, who have been really supportive and we’ve just moved up to the next tier of support based on our projected turnover. We were also one of the first recipients of Screen Scotland's Broadcast Content Fund.
Supersizer has re-energized our development process and has made me realise not only the value of my ideas but also how to present them better and how to unlock their maximum potential for our company.”
SuperSizer is funded by BBC Nations and Regions, Channel 4, Scottish Enterprise and Screen Scotland.
Interested in SuperSizer?
We're due to run the programme again in 2020!