Factual Fast Track – Interview

Karen Donnelly

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What made you apply to Factual Fast Track?

Having just moved from London to Belfast last year, I didn’t have a huge network of contacts in Northern Ireland – I was really hopeful that FFT would help me grow that network. Also, I had been a producer for 6 years and wasn’t sure how to take that step up to Series producer. I really felt like the scheme could be hugely beneficial to me.

What was your biggest takeaway?

I have had so many positives from being part of FFT; it’s brilliant to have met a great network of Scottish colleagues and also cemented my relationships with my NI colleagues – many of whom have become good friends. The training given on the scheme has been incredible and has ranged from the everyday practicalities of Series Producing to working on our longer term goals within the industry. And the access to commissioners and very senior and inspiring programme makers has been something money couldn’t buy, never mind the incredible advice and support from my mentors, Patrick McMahon and Katy Thorogood. Of course, the paid placement has been huge in terms of supporting and advancing my career – and Kathryn our Project Manager has been on hand to help every step of the way.

How did the Factual Fast Track programme help with your career?

Through the FFT programme, I was able to take that first step up to Series Producer. I was lucky to get chosen by Stellify to have my placement with them, a great company I might not have had the opportunity to work for, if it weren’t for the scheme introducing us. My exec Tracie O’Neill was incredible and hugely supportive, it was a brilliant place to work and they really helped build my confidence as a budding SP. I’ve since gone on to get my second Series Producer role, which I was supported and guided to by my mentors Patrick and Katy. I’m sure without the guidance of my mentors and the scheme’s support – my career would look very different right now.

What advice would you give someone applying for Factual Fast Track Scotland and Northern Ireland?

It’s very difficult, when you’re in the midst of jumping from busy production to busy production, to be able to see the bigger picture of your career. But I think it’s worth people taking time to consider their long term goals and what it is that’s standing in their way of achieving those; how might a scheme like this help?

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