This week the class divided up into different seminar groups. I was slightly torn between film and television, but ultimately decided to join the TV seminar group since I thought I could get some interesting speakers in.
There were some initial discussions about what to call the seminar, who to approach as guests, and so on. Other students wanted to get in individuals from some of the new VOD platforms, such as Stan, Netflix and Pronto. I tried to make initial contact with an individual who works at Stan but they were too busy to help out and I know that Netflix does not have HQ, as such, in Australia.
I contacted Stephen Corvini from Fremantle Media (soon Matchbox Pictures) and he agreed to participate in the forum. With his diverse experience in both the creative and business-side of television production in Australia and abroad, I thought he would have a terrific overview of the state of the industry in Australia, both now and into the future.
I tried to provide feedback to some of the girls who were involved in putting together promotional materials (posters and such) but this was not met well. Receiving a hostile reaction to feedback put me off-side, but ultimately I was able to resolve this with Jess, the group’s highly competent Production Manager, and felt that I could continue on in the TV group.
In terms of sourcing the remaining guests, some student suggested getting someone in from a pay TV provider (namely Foxtel). I had considered contacting Penny Win, who is the Head of Drama at Foxtel, however she is Sydney-based. While a Skype inclusion may have been an option, I felt that having a guest join us remotely might create a less-than-cohesive atmosphere amongst the panel of speakers, as well as potentially open the door to additional technical complications.
I was hoping to include a female guest amongst the panel, but unfortunately the individuals whom I had in mind were either flat out in production, or interstate. Thus I contacted an individual I’d had recent contact with – Gareth Calverley. Similar to Stephen, Gareth has had a diverse career working across a range of platforms and genres. I knew his honesty and knowledge would combine well with Stephen’s. I am also conscious of getting together guests who will riff well off one another.
This week I spent some time discussing the structure of the seminar with Will & Regina, who are overseeing the format of the seminar, as well as timings. They spoke about incorporating a competition into proceedings, and we discussed what form this might take. I also started drafting some preliminary questions for the guests with Tiana & Jess’ help.
I tried (unsuccessfully) to contact some additional female guests (namely Jo Bell from the ABC), but unfortunately she was busy.
After not receiving responses from a couple of potential attendees, I contacted Stuart Page, a screenwriter, about participating in the forum, and he responded favourably.
I continued to work on the questions for the guests with Tiana, as well as writing up an intro script for the host of the seminar, David. I also wrote up bios and supplied the students working on the promotional side of things with photos of the guests. All in all, things feel like they are coming along nicely.
I also met with Stephen and Gareth during the week, to discuss the seminar, as well as some of my own persona work andl goals (and garnered useful insights which will go towards my Personal Network Report).
Jess was a deft hand at organising group meet-ups (usually held on Thursday before class) and the group’s Facebook page provided a relative efficient, if potentially combative, forum to exchange ideas and organise things.
Jess had worked out a schedule for the day of the seminar, and from this I organised a time to meet up with the guests, with enough time to have a coffee and give them a chance to chat amongst themselves and meet the seminar host.
This week, Tiana & I refined questions for the panel. We created a surplus of questions in the unlikely case that we got through the ones we had already devised quicker than expected!
On the day of the seminar, I helped with a bit of the grunt work in moving some of the furniture (couches) for the seminar.
I met the guests and from there on it was all stations go.
All in all, I was very pleased with how the seminar unfolded (notwithstanding the terrible timing of the fire alarm). Had we not been robbed of this extra time, I feel that there would have been the opportunity for the guests to provide comment on a wider range of topics and areas of interest. Nevertheless, I felt that there was a good emphasis placed on starting out in the industry, as well as honest and realistic career advice from our three guests.
Reading some of the responses of the audience, I was pleased that many people seemed to enjoy themselves. Some people commented on the fact that all the guests were male, of a similar age. I suppose there is some merit to such comments but ultimately I feel that this is a little bit of a petty political point; from the outset my desire was to find three individuals that would have a good rapport with each other and speak plainly and usefully about their experiences, regardless of their gender.