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Power to the People at BVE

Having been to BVE in previous years I knew exactly what I was in for – stand upon stand of shining gear and kit that I could only fathom a guess at from bits and pieces I have picked up from our freelancers. That camera with eight arms and propellers? Octocopter! Or the camera on the end of a crane? Crane cam?! (I could go on but I can almost feel our DOP’s giving me a disdainful look and getting on the phone to tell me off…)

BVE, then, is a techie’s delight – but should this put off the rest of us?
Certainly not, says BVE themselves, who released a statement through PR company Bubble and Squeak ahead of 2015’s notably larger show. It would seem the onus is shifting to incorporate more of the creative industries into the expo, as next years event promises to be a week long affair with notable establishments such as Raindance, EVCOM and the IABM, signed up to take part. Alison Willis, Portfolio Director of i2i Events, is keen for the expo to become “the centre of an all-encompassing celebration of the UK’s global position as an innovator in the creative industries.” So not just kit then. Ultimately this means broadening the reach of the current show, to include everyone involved in film, TV, commercials, theatre, live events and gaming. (read more here

With this in mind, I decided to make my BVE this year about the creative people behind the pretty bits of kit. Amongst the cameras and massive OB trucks it’s possible to find those providing freelance and contract staff – I went to chat with some of the people providers of BVE and how exhibiting has been for them.

For Alan Hatvany of EMS Technical Personnel, their stand has been a boost to business.  “The Olympics was our busiest time. Everything was being built back then in Stratford, so everybody was crying out for Engineering and Technical roles,” remembers Alan. “It’s been slightly quieter since then, but today, at BVE I’ve had scores of people turn up at the stand and hand me job specs, so yes I would definitely say exhibiting as a talent source in a kit heavy expo has it’s bonuses.”

Just around the corner from EMS, Christy Media, suppliers of contract and permanent staff in the Broadcast Industry, also have a stand. “We’ve been exhibiting at BVE for 10 years,” Senior Consultant Emily Randall tells me. “We find it’s a great opportunity to have one on one conversations with clients and contractors alike.” Christy Media also offer CV advice at their stand, and find that this prime location offers them to chance to meet top quality candidates face to face.

Brian Cantwell, founder of Soho Editors, is a big presence at BVE; you can hardly miss the silver “SE” curling it’s way around their huge stage. Providing talent as well as training, Brian remembers the days when the “Production Show” was a separate entity from BVE. “It was in different hall, but now it’s all one big show and since then the theatres and seminars have grown, which is a huge boost to the educational side of BVE.”

For Soho Editors, BVE is a huge success. And with 5000 of 15000 visitors getting “scanned” into the talks, the focus is much more on training than attracting potential candidates. “I’d rather spend one on one time with clients and candidates, as there just isn’t enough time to have a proper 40 minute meeting at BVE,” says Brian. Indeed, as we are chatting I notice a queue of people forming behind me hoping for an audience with SE’s MD.
For The Crewing Company, our place at BVE has more recently been advising in the CV clinics with our friends at BECTU. Dodging my way past the ever-growing queue for this year’s clinics, I caught up with Sharon Elliott, Communications Officer at BECTU about this and more.

“BVE is an industry recognized event, and with 2016’s show due to be “Entertainment Week” the content will be critical in making this happen, which will mean an expansion on talks, seminars and workshops with career development and people ever as its heart.” Sharon tells me.

With it’s growth, Sharon feels that training and development of people should still remain the backbone of the show. “With all the theatre space and seminar areas BVE is always going to pull people in who want to make it, with  talks from industry experts such as Catherine Hardwicke and Richard Ayoade.” It would certainly seem that i2i have stepped up their game with this years selection of key note speakers – in Tuesday’s  talk with Twilight Director Hardwicke, the 4K theatre was overflowing while Ayoade’s talk yesterday proved inaccessible unless you had a few hours to spare for queuing.

Dubbed “The London Fashion Week of our Industry”, Sharon believes you take no risks coming here . “It’s the best networking event of the year – being a freelancer can be so isolating so events like this have a real community feel.” Sharon enthuses.  “It’s important as it makes freelancers feel connected. They learn how to make use of this opportunity, but also it’s about celebrating our industry.”Wandering around the stands these past two days, I can definitely see what Sharon means. It’s impossible not to bump into freelancers and clients, and everywhere people are exchanging business cards and stories. Everyone seems to have advice to share, whether it’s people starting out or the most experienced Directors. You could almost compare BVE to an industry-wide Christmas do but in February, and with a lot more octocopters and AVID demonstrations…

Words by Danielle Grogan, Consultant at The Crewing Company