Opinion: “Did we expect too much from BAFTA?”

As part of our 3 Month On series of features, we recall a recent meeting that left us wondering if our assumptions about the industry's snubs of Production Management were misplaced.

“Sorry… Do you mind if I just interrupt?” asked a senior representative for one of the industry’s most cherished TV organisations, as we were mid-flow on a Zoom call about the findings of our report.

“What is it exactly that Production Management do?”

It was a penny drop moment that none of us saw coming. Here we are complaining about lack of equality, poor representation and severe talent shortages, thinking we have been hard done by but all this time, have we been expecting too much of those institutions in the first place?

Their own staff don’t even know what we do. Is it any wonder they aren’t seeing us? Production Management is invisible to them. Unknown even. Out of sight and out of mind. We’re mysterious entities that ‘apparently’ work out of makeshift production offices in unglamorous locations, it would seem.

We’re like the elusive ninjas of the workplace, silently battling against never-ending to-do lists, whilst others look-on scratching their heads, wondering “who did that?”.

Invisibility may seem like a cool superpower, but when it comes to getting recognition and representation, it’s a major disadvantage. The question is, are we asking too much of these institutions though or do they simply need to open their eyes?

We still hadn’t answered the question: “What is it exactly that Production Management do?”

The disbelief caught us off guard, so our response to what Production Management actually do probably wasn’t the most compelling of explanations before the conversation moved on, but we were distracted by our own thoughts for the rest of the call after that.

Historically, Production Management haven’t been present at the awards ceremonies, their names don’t appear on the screen as the show’s opening titles finish, they aren’t invited to the Q&A with audience members afterwards. So why would they know about us, we thought?

We ended the Zoom call almost feeling a little bad for the people who had just bore part of the anger we relayed on behalf of our colleagues. It dawned on us that the people in these organisations actually have little to no experience on the shop floor, so to speak. They simply didn’t understand the nitty-gritty of our craft.

We started to think back to the BAFTA advert that spurred us down this rocky road. Was all of our anger actually misguided? We thought we had been purposely forgotten about or even excluded but is the truth that actually BAFTA had failed to educate even its own employees on the inner mechanics of making a TV programme?

Potentially BAFTA itself barely knows what Production Management do. Were we wrong to be so angry? Perhaps we were barking up the wrong tree. Maybe BAFTA hadn’t purposefully snubbed us, but had failed to educate their own staff on our vital role in TV production.

Our representation across industry bodies is part of the problem. How many of you reading this can say you are a member of BAFTA or of the Royal Television Society? How many of you know a Production Management colleague that has been a panellist at The Edinburgh TV Festival?

We know that not all organisations are the same. ScreenSkills should be given a special mention for the increasing number of resources and training directed towards promoting development in Production Management – but until more of us commit what little spare time we have to being visible to the rest of the organisations, can we really expect them to take notice of us?

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