BBC College of Production sharing skills with the broadcast industry

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The College of Production website, part of the BBC Academy, has now been launched. The first of its kind for the production community in the UK, the website provides practical advice on all aspects of TV, radio and online production and will be available to the production community and general public for free.

It is hoped that the website will become a valuable asset not only for training BBC staff, but an authoritative and useful resource for the wider broadcasting industry, for people seeking to enter the industry and for other interested audiences.

More than 1.4 million learners studied on Skillset-recognised media courses in the UK in 2008/9 and over half a million people were employed in the Creative Media Industry – a massive number of potential users for the site.

Like the College of Journalism website, the College of Production website will also be freely available in the UK and will play an important role in helping the BBC Academy deliver its remit, under the terms of the BBC’s Charter Agreement, to train the wider industry.

The Best Made Easy

“The best made easy” is the premise behind the creation of the site, says Amanda Lyon, the launch editor. “Through filmed talks, short radio programmes and videos, broadcasting innovators, creatives and experts will freely share their experience with the production community in a distilled and focused form.”

A host of the top names in broadcast have contributed to the site: Gary Lineker talks about the Match Of The Day production team; Chris Evans enthuses about his relationship with exec producer Helen Thomas and how this gives his show its energy; while Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie share their hottest tip, “Never look puzzled through the glass!”

The site offers content on all areas of TV and radio production. And each video or short radio programme aims to answer a single question – simply and usefully. Short VTs provide practical advice on a vast array of subjects from health and safety to self shooting, editing and interviewing. Short radio programmes feature experts in conversation on single topics, such as how blogs can be used to add value to programme content.

Experts representing a broad spectrum of jobs and skills in radio, TV and online production, both from within the BBC and from the wider broadcast industry, will be invited to share their knowledge and expertise. For example, production staff working on some of the BBC’s best-loved flagship shows including Strictly Come Dancing, Doctor Who, Lambing Live, Bang Goes The Theory, Waking The Dead, Casualty, The Weakest Link, Woman’s Hour, Match Of The Day and The Chris Evans Breakfast Show, describe their roles and first-hand experiences.

There are tips on writing popular drama from Diederick Santer, former executive producer of EastEnders; Adam Tandy, producer of The Thick Of It, talks on what makes a successful comedy and Jenni Murray reveals what she looks for in a briefing (not a thesis!).

College of Production talks, filmed in front of a live studio audience, feature leading figures from the broadcast and creative industries, who share their experience and passion. On the site from launch are talks with producer John Lloyd and documentary-maker-turned-film-director Susanna White, Pat Younge, Chief Creative Officer BBC Vision Productions and Brighton Rock director Rowan Joffe.

There are currently around 100 VTs on the site and, throughout 2011, Amanda and her team will continue to grow the website, in consultation with users and key stakeholders. There will be around 300 items on the site by the end of the year.

“There is huge demand across the industry for this kind of innovative training resource”, says Anne Morrison, Director of the BBC Academy. “At the BBC we are taking a lead in this area to help reach as wide an audience as possible. The BBC relies on an increasingly mobile workforce, with many freelancers or people working on short term contracts. We aim to share as much of our training as possible with the wider UK broadcasting industry, for free, equipping people with skills they need for a lifetime of employability in an ever-changing media landscape.”

Edward Morgan, Head of the College of Production says; “We want this website to support, not substitute, professional hands-on training. Of course, the very best way to learn is by doing. You can’t learn how to shoot, edit, run a team, or be a brilliant researcher just from a website. But you can be inspired, refreshed, advised and then steered to the right formal training. We aim to celebrate best practice and innovation wherever it’s found. It’s about sharing expertise, enthusiasm and passion, and bringing the broadcast industry together. ‘The best, made easy – at the lowest cost’. The result, we hope, is a great, easy to use and useful site”.


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