What made you apply to Factual Fast Track?
Before applying I’d been PD for a few years, I’d recently been discussing SPing with an exec I’d worked with a lot, but felt quite nervous about making the giant step up from PD to SP. So this scheme felt like the perfect opportunity to take that step while getting the support and training that FFT offered. Opportunities to take part in schemes like this don’t come around very often in TV, so I jumped at the chance to apply.
What was your biggest takeaway?
It’s hard to know where to start – but the biggest takeaway is probably getting a greater understanding of where the SP sits in the TV ecosystem. As a PD, you focus on your programme, and don’t need to worry about very much else. As an SP, you are leading a team, but also the point person for the exec and commissioner above you. Understanding their roles better, why decisions are made the way they are, is hugely important in making sure the team working under you is pointed in the right direction. In addition though, being an SP is a much more managerial role than any I’d done to date – so getting training in the various roles and responsibilities you have as an SP is enormously useful. Probably the biggest single aspect of that would have been the mentoring that the scheme offers. It’s just invaluable being able to talk to someone who’s been there before, without the pressure of them being involved in the project you’re working on. I am so grateful to my mentors. But also, the various training sessions around some of the nitty gritty of management – eg. ‘having difficult conversations’ – is so useful!
How did the Factual Fast Track programme help with your career?
I was just starting to SP when I started on the scheme, on a fairly small C5 series. By the end I was SPing a very much larger C4 series with a substantial team of around 25 people, which I couldn’t even have imagined attempting when the scheme started. While stepping up to SP has been a really big step, and a stressful one, having that support and training in place has made it feel like something I could take on. As with everything in telly, you get out what you put into it, and I genuinely think it was a game-changing scheme for my career.
What advice would you give someone applying for Factual Fast Track Scotland and Northern Ireland?
Apply! It was great to be part of a cohort of people at a similar career level, Learning on the job is great, but having the time to actually think and be trained on various aspects of the job can be invaluable. We also heard from industry insiders who’ve made some fantastic TV, and hearing their stories told from that perspective was hugely interesting. It was a great scheme to be a part of!
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