TCC Talks: Support Your Talent
We are a media recruitment agency, but our team don’t see themselves as ‘typical’ recruiters. We definitely strive for something more than just following numbers in our books. As a part of the media industry, we are have a responsibility to help shape it in a positive way, and we feel one great way to do this is by creating a discussion event that will push important conversations forward, and hopefully in turn help make the industry a better place.
We are aware that being a Freelancer is often associated with a sense of isolation, and the lack of support that employees hired by a company can receive. It’s often the case of working from project to project, and unfortunately can feel like there’s not much support on how you are doing between deadlines.
We care about well-being in the media industry, so last year we decided to create initiatives like TCC Talks, the Rising Talent program, Coffee Mornings and Freelancer Forums, that helps build a stronger community and will not only help provoke a discussion about the industry but also help shape it in a real time. That’s why for our second TCC Talk we organised a panel to focus on how we can support Talent. To increase our firing power, TCC collaborated with ScreenSkills – the industry-led skills body for the screen industries – film, television (including children’s, unscripted and high-end), VFX (visual effects), animation, and games. Screenskills trains the people who make the shows the whole world loves and are supporting the continued growth and future innovation across the country by investing in the skilled and inclusive workforce who are critical to the UK screen industries’ global success.
As before, we organised a discussion panel, Q&A, and a time slot dedicated to networking. It was important for us to invite guests who actively work in the media industry, and improve the quality of it in the well-being context. The discussion panel included Caroline Bottomley – founder of Shiny, a member of TCC Rising Talent Timi McEwen, Lucy Powell representing The Film and TV Charity, and Claire Stratton who is a Senior Learning and Development Manager at ScreenSkills.
Aimée Johnston, our Talent Manager, started the discussion with the theme of the event, asking guests how we support our Talent. In response, Lucy explained how The Film and TV Charity works and what kind of help Freelancers can get, thanks to their support (that covers health issues, pay, harassment, lack of support, an anonymous 24-hour support line, and more). Lucy admitted that in the context of well-being at work, the difference between TV and the Film industry is unfortunately not significant. Both of these industries struggle with serious problems that can be reviewed in Looking Glass ’22 report by The Film and TV Charity. The problem also applies to being a parent in the film & media industry that usually does not offer any support. It’s worth mentioning though, that the change seems to be in progress. A good example can be Share My Telly Job, the initiative started by freelance mums who didn’t have enough support, that became a huge community that promotes practical solutions to hiring, and more crucially, retaining experienced industry talent. Michelle Reynolds who co-founded it was the guest at our previous TCC Talk. Click here to read a blog about this event.
Clare mentioned the Covid-impacted time when many of ScreenSkills’ courses were moved online. It turns out that people are more open and engaged when discussing serious issues online. She admitted that Freelancers are too afraid to ask for help or support during the job, often struggling with imposter syndrome.
Timi explained that many factors can cause Freelancers to give up on the industry – one of them is their economic situation. It’s extremely difficult to move on from the entry position which might be caused by a lack of diversity and inclusion in the media industry. Staying in the industry is associated with great courage related to being confident, actively using networking skills, and constantly reaching for new challenges that can be the beginning of the next step in your career.
Laura Davis (TCC Managing Director) stated that in her opinion mentors are extremely helpful in this process, that’s why the company decided to run the TCC Rising Talent initiative that offers a mentor for 8 months. It’s important to help new Talent fill the experience gap between starting a career and finding a first job. Timi agreed that having a mentor is amazing in terms of getting to know many important aspects of the chosen career path, and making new contacts in the industry. Another great aspect of it is just working by the mentor’s side because you can learn soft skills that are essential to feel confident during a job.
As an agency we systematically check in with Freelancers during every project to make sure that we know what’s happening between them, and the clients. Panellists agreed that clients are increasingly aware of industry issues, but there is still a lot of work ahead of them to ensure appropriate working conditions, especially for new Freelancers. Clare explained that the skills shortage faced by many production companies is forcing them to rethink the situation. If they don’t create a healthy work environment, they won’t be able to complete projects.
Caroline shared her thoughts on the commercial side of the industry, which she believes often can offer a better work environment simply because it operates with larger budgets. The financial side of it isn’t the only good aspect – commercial projects can really teach storytelling craft. Caroline invited Freelancers to take part in the next Shiny Awards taking place in March. Shiny helps under-represented and new directors breakthrough in commercial production. The creators of Shiny Awards are aware that diversity in the film industry of commercial directors is practically non-existent. The competition is a response to the active search for better ways for new talent to appear in the industry. The organisers work with activists and grassroots organisations to find new talent. The positive results of their activities can be checked on their website.
After the discussion, there was a Q&A and networking session, during which the participants could chat with invited guests, the TCC team, and other Freelancers. We know that creating a field for discussion is often the first step to support Talent. We believe that events like TCC Talks can help form a space for sharing issues related to the industry.
Here you can review Looking Glass ’22 report by The Film and TV Charity. If you are looking for free courses and other forms of support, please see a list of opportunities for freelancers we created last month.
Caroline Bottomley is the founder of Shiny. They find and promote new & under-represented director talent to the commercial production industry worldwide. 70% of their shortlists are always videos from under-represented directors. Hundreds of Shiny-featured directors have gone on to be signed and to win further awards. Shiny’s Curated Videos newsletter goes to over 7,000 industry professionals, the quarterly Shiny Awards are hosted by ad agencies in London, New York & LA.
Timi McEwen is a Junior Producer. She is a member of TCC Rising Talents, a graduate of Mama Youth Project, and has just completed a 1yr internship at Lime Pictures working in scripted, where she got to produce her own Hollyoaks spin-off mini web series as a Digital Content Producer
Lucy Powell is a Community Development Manager at The Film and TV Charity. She leads a programme of work that builds mutually supportive industry communities, that people can access throughout their careers. She is currently running their Freelancer Community Grants programme which funds new and existing projects offering mutual professional support, social connections, and peer-to-peer networks for film and TV freelancers working behind the scenes.
Claire Stratton after a brief stint in TV development followed by nearly a decade leading talent development programmes at BAFTA, Claire joined the ScreenSkills team in 2021 as Senior Learning and Development Manager. ScreenSkills is the industry-led skills body for the Screen industries which provides insight, career development, and training opportunities to help people get into the industry and progress within it.
Follow our social media channels to stay informed about our events.