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What I learned from BBC New Creatives: the value of experience

Zia tells us about creating her first professional audio commission through this boundary-breaking programme

Getting into the film and television industry has always been a complicated journey with no clear path. Be you a budding writer like me or a fresh filmmaker, you may have often encountered the struggle of getting the elusive first credit. The first credit is your stamp, your calling card, and something that will hopefully kickstart your career. However, although necessary, it’s also extremely difficult to get a project made. Thankfully, the BBC has recognised the difficulty and, responding to the increasing demand for new talent and voices, have delivered an incredible scheme that I have had the privilege of being a part of. BBC New Creatives gives young talent the funding, mentoring, training and support to take their ideas to screen

In my case I was given the opportunity to create an audio drama with Bristol-based production company, Calling The Shots who have been developing talent and engaging with new filmmakers for over two decades. Calling The Shots have got the scheme down to a fine art and tailors training and support to each New Creative’s strengths and experience including an extensive two-day bootcamp that covers everything from working with equipment to marketing, to a development meeting with one of the team who helps you hone your idea and map out your next steps. As a new filmmaker these lessons are vital and any prior nerves I may have harboured going into my first directing gig, were put at rest. What is so special about the scheme is at no point do you feel out of your depth or alone in any way. There is constant support and people in the know who are always happy to answer even your most basic questions – and believe me I had a few!

Even when Covid-19 put the world in lockdown, the Calling the Shots team adapted to the challenges and ensured that New Creatives could continue focusing on the creative aspect of the process rather than all the other headaches of production. I was mentored by playwright Mike Akers and was amazed by how much not only my idea developed, but my writing too. When it came to casting the show I learned so much about a process I had never been through before, and was pleased to see that every decision I made, the CTS team were there to offer guidance but ultimately trusted me to make the right choices.

Covid dramatically extended the timeline of production and although it was actually a blessing for me to spend more time on my script and casting, it really highlighted the impact the pandemic has had on the creative industries.  However, schemes like New Creatives are still carrying on and there’s a sense that a new filmmaker has more opportunities now than anyone did in the not-so-distant past.

There were a lot of firsts for me throughout this process. My first credit, my first professionally-commissioned script, and of course the first time I had ever directed anyone. Recording in the studio was perhaps the most exciting yet daunting stage of production. It was a surreal experience to see the cast bring the characters I had written to life and for me to personally be the one directing them. But once we had finished recording,  I was very aware that now I’ve done it once, I can do it again.

My audio drama, Burn Your Wishes, about the vibrant yet dying tradition of a council estate’s annual fireworks display, is due to be released on a BBC radio platform sometime in the near future. Every day being a part of the New Creatives was a new lesson and I can’t help but feel that the audio drama, although something I am genuinely proud of, isn’t even the most important thing I have gained from the process. The opportunity has equipped me with something more valuable: experience.

I would recommend the scheme to anyone with an idea and a passion for film or audio to get involved. But don’t just take my word for it. Check out Calling The Shots for any updates on the New Creatives next round and, in the meantime, go look for yourself on the BBC website, at the incredible stories and unique film and audio projects from the nations New Creatives.

New Creatives aims to give opportunities to emerging artists from backgrounds that are currently underrepresented in the arts and broadcasting, offering a unique platform for young, emerging artists to tell the stories they want to tell, bringing them to BBC audiences across BBC TV, radio and online. Find out more here.