What made you apply to Factual Fast Track?
I applied to FFT to propel my career and capabilities to the next level. Although I had already SP’d a couple of series, the scheme came at the point where I felt I would massively benefit with having focussed training and mentorship. It happens a lot in TV that you move up without acquiring the skills to manage or lead effectively - something I enjoy and want to do more of, and knew would improve with the scheme. I knew it would also be a brilliant opportunity to build a network of contacts with my colleagues in NI and Scotland, gain access and insight to commissioners and elite trainers, and to enjoy the profile boost that comes with the scheme too.
What was your biggest takeaway?
My biggest takeaway is the value of careful, curated connection - and how much we can learn from others within the industry - colleagues and gatekeepers.
And that accelerating requires investment - time and effort in order to make intentional moves forward. It’s not enough to just keep going with the practicalities of work, the devil is in the detail, and truly learning how to negotiate and appreciate the leadership role that comes with being SP or Exec on a show - is something that I have learned, and continue to learn! With thanks to the scheme.
How did the Factual Fast Track programme help with your career?
Over the course of the scheme, the access to trainers and industry professionals, along with our two mentors has been invaluable. My own two mentors were Tim Hancock of C4 and Fatima Salaria and it has been a privilege to be able to engage with them throughout the scheme. Within the cohort we have built up a way of working and sharing across the group that has been candid and collegiate and has really enhanced problem solving and development. Sessions on essential skills like Storytelling, Negotiation, Business Affairs, Formats, Career Coaching have been of immense benefit to me in my work. They’ve challenged and focused my mind to perform and prioritise - strategies that I don’t think I would have been able to implement without having been part of the group this year.
I remember making a point of saying in my interview that I wanted to be part of this course for the benefit of the industry in Northern Ireland - I wanted to be in a position where I felt equipped to be able to take on bigger productions, confidently, and competitively and to be able to grow and champion talent in Northern Ireland. I think it benefits everyone when we invest in people at this level - and can’t thank Kathryn enough for her master skills in access negotiation, scheduling, whip cracking. It has benefited us all, and I know that it feeds into my placement role on a debut series - lightly formatted entertainment obs documentary about a Celebrity Gaeltacht with Big Mountain for RTÉ. I have been able to handle challenges, and prepare better because of the training I have received this year.
What advice would you give someone applying for Factual Fast Track Scotland and Northern Ireland?
Research the scheme, take time to listen to those who have been on it to understand what you can truly get out of it. Commit - wholeheartedly. It is absolutely worth it. Investment of this kind reaps dividends for ALL of us - so DIVE RIGHT IN!