It’s the Story, Stupid

This week I attended my very first Edinburgh Television Festival.  The EITF is an annual conference of the great and the good of the British (and increasingly global) TV sector, and since Awesome is playing in primetime drama, thought it was worth showing up (inspired by Woody Allen: “80% of life is showing up”) and I’m glad I did.

In three days, the conference team at Edinburgh (shout out to Lisa Campbell!) distilled the entire industry into it’s core essences.

My big takeaway, including from MacTaggart lecturer, vice-man Shane Smith, is that it’s the quality of the content that matters.

– Shane Smith claims his vice content is giving underserved (Millennial) audiences what they want, and getting it seen across multiple platforms

– US audiences are getting exposed to complex British dramas (Happy Valley was referenced routinely) via Netflix, paving the way for more British exports (this piece in the Guardian is worth a read).

– Most executives refuted the “too much TV” notion, stating that people don’t watch the 400 new shows that are being green-lit in the US, but watch about 10 shows they love. One exec remarked, “nobody says there are too many books,” and from my publishing experience that’s both true and false. Readers are offered a near infinite number of books, but only a handful are counted as hits. The key is quality…creating the best content for a now global audience.

– From the incredible GameChangers sessions (thanks to itv’s Fraser Robinson for putting these together), the lesson is to write voraciously and to move on from failure. Not every show works, but every show is a chance to hone your voice and sharpen your saw.

Looking forward to a year of writing breakthrough TV, and definitely returning to Edinburgh for 2017.  Until then, see you at mipcom, C21 Content London, and Banff.

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