The Royal Television Society, of which Lumina are proud patrons, hosted their Futures Summer Party beside the picturesque canals of King’s Place. As always, the event was a fantastic mix of insight, humour and innovation.
Beyond the DJ, free-flowing wine and canal-side views, the main event of the evening was a panel discussion hosted by London Live’s Toby Earle. Toby chatted to four seasoned creatives, teasing out their most cringe-worthy anecdotes from their careers in media, and the lessons they had learned from these memorable mishaps.
Award-winning director Emeka Onono – responsible for acclaimed factual series Pound Shop Wars and Britain on the Fiddle – kicked things off with a tale from his days as a young producer on Kilroy. A series of errors surrounding a controversial guest led to Emeka facing up to a furious Robert Kilroy-Silk. Having attempted to cover up for the mishap, Emeka ultimately succumbed to Kilroy’s steely resolve for the truth and took on board the mantra: “Don’t lie. Be reliable. People need to know they can trust what you say”.
Nic Stacey – an award-winning producer and director of science and history television -went next, recounting a scenario in which, placed in responsibility of a significant budget for special effects, he blew the cash on a ham-fisted attempt at digital imagery. A clip of the programme in question was shown to the audience, and the cringe-levels were palpable. Nic went on to demonstrate a later programme in which, with benefit of hindsight, he wisely invested in practical effects (slow-motion imagery of disrupted water and thrown polystyrene), which not only looked extremely effective on camera, but were also wildly less expensive than the digital alternative. Nic’s conclusion was that “putting yourself in an environment where you can make mistakes” can be extremely beneficial, provided you take on board and learn from the mishaps. Nic certainly did, and his Emmy win is testament to a lesson well-learned!
Development and Production exec Daisy Scalchi told of her first big break in television – elevating from AP to Programme Director on the legendary series Wife Swap. Buoyed by her big opportunity, Daisy’s first mistake came on day one of shooting, when she over-zealously attempted to direct a scene with the “wife” whilst behind the wheel of a car. The contestant, already openly uncomfortable, became even more so when a distracted Daisy rolled the car over a boulder, bursting the tyre. The situation worsened on day two when, pressing the contestant in a filmed interview, the contestant burst into tears and bolted – only to return on the condition that Daisy not be in the room during filming. The series of errors led to a devastated Daisy driving back home wondering how such a great opportunity had spun so terribly out of control. The lesson she took from it: always strive to cultivate a positive relationship with your subject and, if out of depth, flag for help. She also offered the reassuring words: “It’s only telly. Noone’s going to die…hopefully”.
These wise words were echoed by the final speaker, award-winning director and production company-owner Soleta Rogan. Soleta recounted numerous situations of difficult individuals, insufficient funds, and overwhelming industry cynicism. Her advice – engage with the cynicism you’re confronted with, and use it as a tool to be as innovative as possible. Also, to accept the self-interest of others as a fact of life – if people appear not to be in love with a project as much as you, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth pursuing. Collaboration and idealism go a long way in this business.
And with collaboration and idealism in mind, the audience and panel fell to mingling, dancing and revelling in the creative culture fostered by our industry – and none demonstrate this better than the RTS. Another superb event.