Trainee Researcher, Kieran Etoria-King tells us about his first month with Icon Films in Bristol as part of the Channel 4 Production Training Scheme...
With everything that’s been packed in by my team at Icon Films and the benevolent training overlords at Think Bigger, it’s hard to believe it’s been less than two months since I walked through the door of TV for the first time thinking a treatment was something you got in Holland & Barrett, a whittle was for wood, and an SVOD was probably some new kind of missile.
Bootcamp came first, and three outrageously well-catered days at Lane End Conference Centre. There were warm greetings at the train station as the 16 of us on the scheme tried to recognise each other from WhatsApp photos, in a couple of instances simply walking up to the other people wearing bags and similarly trepidatious expressions.
Once the introductions and ice-breakers were out of the way, and the distinct ‘school trip’ vibe had been accepted, we could not have asked for a more comprehensive preparation to working in television. Sam and Edi drilled us on the do's and dont's (so many dont's!), we learnt about the ins and outs of our jobs, and the structures and roles of our indies within the industry.
There then followed a parade of movers, shakers and high achievers throughout the rest of the week, who helped us get started on the key skills we would need in our first few weeks, and painted a picture of the futures we could possibly look forward to in the industry. The session that will live longest in the memory will be our introduction to ‘advanced online research’, which was incredibly useful, fascinating, and to be honest, a little terrifying. We learned how to make the internet bring the content we want to us (including everything anyone has ever posted anywhere on social media!) and acquired some game changing Google-FU. Within minutes, Becky had turned up a newspaper obituary of her grandfather, I had stumbled onto a decades-old legal journal that revealed a murderer in my family, and we had all endured the humiliation of seeing each other’s Facebook posts circa 2010.
After valuable face-to-faces with people such as Lewis Hatfull, Kathy O’Neil and Syeda Irtizaali, I got to Bristol and started at Icon feeling more prepared and confident than I had expected, and the team there made sure I felt at home by the end of my first day. I barely had my feet under the table before I was swimming in development, but this was a great way to get my head around how shows get off the ground, and I was amazed how quickly I was given the freedom to contribute to brainstorms, and take responsibility for writing up ideas. It’s been interesting to see the sheer number of ideas that are thrown at the walls and how few stick, and development can be a frustrating place for this reason - in the last 4 weeks I’ve heard and read countless great ideas for shows that I would have loved to watch. There’s a bit of the existential dread I also get in bookshops in development - so much content, not enough time, one day we’ll all be dust - but I learned, worked hard, and enjoyed almost every minute of the day.
I’ve now been moved upstairs to production, a parallel world of logistics, shot plans, and phoning people called Barry for hours to procure hay for a set. I was surprised to be immediately invited to my first shoot. It’s another new challenge, but why else are we here?