2020 winner – Gabriella Lafor

Written by Admin

Maintaining a dynamic balance between freelance creativity and 9-5 professionalism has been a challenge, but one I have enjoyed over the past 3 years. Creatively, I get on set and I wear many hats; producer, production manager, 1st AD. I just love the process – if I could live on set, I would… But you know this rent has to get paid! So, I support my creative ambitions by working full time as a production secretary with an independent production company. This gives me a fantastic insight into the business of television and the money-makin’ processes, but in my current position within the corporate world, rarely is there an opportunity to make a real difference – to challenge the representation at the top; to diversify the types of programmes that get commissioned; to strategise the release of digital content to help grow audiences across international markets. I am so pleased that I have been selected for the David Lyle scholarship, as this is a year-long opportunity to grow my experiences of the television industry and learn the ways I can change things for the better.

Everything I do encourages my thirst for more knowledge, both in business and production. A fire ignites within me whenever I can develop an idea, pull together the logistics of the shoot and recruit fresh talent to support the production process. Short-form intimate content; which captures expression, a moment or an atmosphere, is what I like to watch and create. I have always wanted to tap into this world of possibility – television as a creative medium is a platform for expression, escapism and entertainment. Not quite Reith’s ideology but perhaps the first reinvention that should occur…

Whilst many long-standing television professionals have resigned themselves to the fact that streaming technology has emerged as the superior viewing tool for programming, I only see this as an opportunity to reimagine what has already been successful for so long. I will ensure that high quality, story variety and diverse content exists on mainstream broadcast channels. Generally, audiences want to see more of the world. They flock to their screens to enjoy scenes from the depths of the oceans and the creatures which reside there. In some ways, we are more attuned to the diverse cultures of the animal kingdom (thank you, Attenborough!), than we are to the diverse cultures that exist within humankind.

British programmes and formats have made huge impacts internationally, we are comfortable as a leading force in the entertainment industry. But, are we innovative? From high-brow dramas, to big-budget reality shows, the same types of programmes are constantly re-commissioned. I know that the next generation of programme-makers and production companies will write better stories than we’ve heard before, but it’s increasingly likely that Netflix will sign them a deal first. Our next line-up of executives should be ready to welcome new ideas, new formats and new international relationships.

Over 1 million Chinese people have migrated to countries in Africa in order to take advantage of business opportunities, whilst simultaneously building vital infrastructure that will help to support progressions in technology and business. It won’t be long before Africa is running on 5G and looking to expand its own entertainment industry. We already know the vast audience potential that Africa holds – we have witnessed the success of Nollywood films and programmes. As the continent steps into better access to technology, I want to lead the UK television industry into strong, collaborative relationships, wherein we can develop, sell and trade innovative formats across our many nations. To represent culture accurately and globally can only benefit the television industry and bringing such content into people’s homes will improve humanity overall.

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