Reflections from the Edinburgh Television Festival

Edinburgh TV Festival 24-26 August 2022

During three packed days at the Edinburgh Television Festival the OKRE team chatted to television creators from across all formats, genres and levels of experience, and heard from panel speakers about everything from what the major streamers and broadcasters are looking to commission to how other creatives are branching out into different platforms. Here we share just a few of our reflections from the festival.

Authenticity is the watchword

We heard a lot about authenticity at the OKRE Summit, and the same theme came up at the Edinburgh TV Festival.

During Snap Inc’s Spotlight On… session, Head of International Original Series Amanda Krentzman  described Snap Originals’ content creators as ‘fearless, authentic, out there trying to change the world’, while in Heartstopper: Masterclass, Heartstopper writer and creator Alice Oseman (pictured) said the key to reflecting the real world without resorting to generalisations was by ‘listening to people, seeing people, and trying to reflect the worlds that you know.’

And in Sonic Boom: The Secrets of TV’s ‘Audio First’ Hits, Declan Moore, Head of International at Wondery, spoke about the importance of working with people’s lived experience to create hit shows. ‘First party access is key,’ he said.

Having crew and creatives with lived experience really matters

Netflix’s Heartstopper is one of the most lauded shows of the last year, and Executive Producer Patrick Walters spoke about the importance of having crew from the LGBTQ+ community working on the show, saying there was ‘a lot of passion on set and you could really feel that – we were really open that the creative drivers were from the LGBTQ+ community and we wanted to make space for that, that was welcomed with open arms.’

Young people are looking for content with a purpose

While many of the panelists across all three days focused on the importance of funny or dramatic storylines in hooking audiences, Snap were overt about having mission at the heart of their content creation strategy. Amanda Krentzman was clear that she wanted the content they produce to ‘inspire young people to go out and change the world’, adding that it was ‘entertainment first but with a purpose.’

Nuance matters

Two sessions with a very different feel to each other contained the same message – that no story is black and white, and that properly depicting nuance matters. In the MacTaggart Lecture, broadcaster Emily Maitlis spoke honestly about mistakes she felt she had made at the BBC, where the desire to appear impartial actually led to both sides of an issue being presented as equally valid – when that may not always be the case.

Earlier in the day, Heartstopper creator Alice Oseman said that avoiding tropes was ‘a really important aspect’ of creating both the show and the graphic novel on which it is based. She said: ‘I want to tell stories about these real issues like bullying and mental health, but Heartstopper looks at those things with optimism and there is joy to be found despite those things.’ The words echoed documentary maker Stuart Kyasimire, who at the OKRE Summit called for more positive stories to be told about people with mental health conditions.

TV creatives are keen to learn from other sectors

From social media to audio, there were several (well-attended) panels looking at how TV creatives can learn from and collaborate with creators on other content platforms.

In fact, this was such a continuing theme that we wrote a whole separate article about it which you can read here:

Want more insight like this shared directly to your inbox? Join the OKRE Network to receive our newsletter