There were 160 training sessions and 24 masterclasses with expert trainers and respected industry names, plus a bustling trade fair and a range of one-to-one career coaching sessions. Much of the action was caught on camera for the Academy’s Flickr page, while the College of Production has recorded nine of the masterclasses for podcasts in its website.
Insight and action from the day was also captured by attendees and Academy tweeters. So much so that #fasttrain trended in London and reached 378,087 different accounts. A selection of the tweets has been collected on our Storify page, and all tweets on the hashtag can be downloaded as a file via the Buzz Aggregator .
The 24 masterclasses covered everything from the challenges of filming TV in extreme locations to expert advice on how to set up an independent production company.
There were plenty of surprises in store. The audience for the ‘Big Hitters’ session was treated to Fast Train ‘cake pops’ in honour of panellist Emma Willis who commissioned the Great British Bake Off. A session on panel shows meanwhile featured an authentic panel show desk for people to sit behind.
Attendees filled the White City conference centre to hear from three BBC controllers about what it’s like to be in such a coveted role and – crucially for business-minded freelancers in the audience – what kind of programmes they need for their channels.
Danny Cohen (BBC1) said he’s still investigating a new health format and a consumer holiday show, and that the channel as a whole is “trying to do more around the cost of living”.
Zai Bennett (BBC3) is “very interested” in finding science and history documentaries, admitting it is “not easy to make it relevant for a young adult audience”.
Liam Keelan (BBC Daytime) is on the lookout for “new territories” as well as exciting new spins on existing formats.
There was some forthright debate at the ‘Women in TV’ session. Host and Broadcast magazine editor Lisa Campbell cited a number of surprising statistics including Creative Skillset’s research showing that 5,000 women left the TV industry between 2006 and 2009 compared to 700 men, and that male experts outnumber female by four to one across news channels.
Charles Miller captured the ‘Future of TV’ session for a College of Journalism blog. BBC journalist and former Tomorrow’s World host Maggie Philbin chaired a panel featuring Google’s Peter Barron, Daniel Danker from the BBC, digital consultant Nic Newman and Fremantle Media’s Peter Cassidy.
In a wide-ranging session, Barron assured the audience that Google has no plans to get into television production or programming, while Danker revealed new figures showing that only 57% of iPlayer doing is done on a computer – the rest is taken up by mobile devices and tablets.
‘The Pitch’ masterclass gave attendees the chance to pitch a programme idea to an influential panel of commissioners from the BBC, Channel 5, ITV and C4 - and all in front of an audience of fellow freelancers. Evy Barry was one of the eight who received pitching training from the Academy’s Frank Ash and made it through to the live pitching session. She’s written about her experience for the Media Parents blog .
BBC content producer Mars Elkins-El Brogy blogged the ‘Future Formats’ masterclass, where presenter Anna Richardson and a panel of industry experts discussed how to find and develop the next big TV format or feature.
Mars sums up the panel’s conception of the ideal feature as being “aspirational” and “relevant to the people and the times we are in”, while including “good talent, good characters, good home take-out, some element of jeopardy and pay off” and a “good narrative”.
The day ended with networking drinks where freelancers could mingle with TV executives and have a well-earned rest after an intense day of training and insight. BBC Academy director Anne Morrison was on hand to address the assembled crowd.
“Each time we do a Fast Train event it just gets bigger and bigger,” she said. “There’s been such an amazing buzz today; the energy has been fantastic to witness.
“The huge demand for the practical sessions and masterclasses proves that there is a real need out there for this kind of event. I hope the inspiration attendees have gained from the day will encourage them to develop their interests even further.”
TV Fast Train was produced in partnership with the BBC Academy and in association with a range of industry partners including Indie Training Fund, DV Talent Website, VET, shortcourses@nfts, ThinkBigger!, The TV Collective, Pact, WFTV website, Sheffield Doc/Fest and BECTU...