Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme
English and Classical Literature and Civilisation, 2022
Mentored by Gareth Neame OBE, CEO of Carnival Films and the creator of Downton Abbey
Tell us a bit about yourself, your mentorship and what you gained from taking part in the mentoring scheme.
Before coming to university I didn’t really know what I wanted to pursue as a career. As an usher in my local theatre I had always been an admirer of the performing arts, observing from the distance at actors and singers on stage but as someone who doesn’t sing nor act, I didn’t think someone like me would ever be able to get involved. It wasn’t until my second year did I realise that through production, I could still be an important part of the process. My passion for writing and enjoyment from organising projects and events drew me closer to the idea of producing scripts and it has been this experience with the mentoring programme that has solidified this. My mentorship was with Gareth Neame OBE, CEO of Carnival Films and the creator of Downton Abbey.
Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme
“This whole experience has been incredibly inspiring and motivating - it has definitely been a major highlight to my university journey. I still find it crazy that I have been able to pick the brains of the creator of my favourite tv show!”
Did you have any preconceptions about the mentoring experience that were challenged as a result of your experience?
The mentoring experience with Gareth so far has been incredibly enlightening. As someone with zero years of experience in the world of tv and production, meeting Gareth who has decades of such has really helped enhanced my understanding of how this sector operates. We’ve covered plenty of topics from the process of getting a script optioned all the way to post-production and marketing. There are so many processes involved and a lot of unseen hard work and dedication from the producer that is integral to the production process. It’s been fascinating learning about the ins and outs of the industry and the can honestly say that each meeting has left me feeling inspired and excited for what the future holds. Learning about Gareth’s journey from university to CEO, as well as the stories of his peers has made the idea of entering the industry feel a lot more accessible and has allowed me to figure out my next steps.
What is one piece of advice you learnt from your mentor you could share with other students/graduates?
Among the many words of wisdom that Gareth has imparted over the course of this mentorship, one thing I’ve learnt is how integral it is to remain resilient. Behind every TV show there are dozens that didn’t make the cut. The key is not to give up but to enjoy the journey and use it as an opportunity to grow. There are so many factors that influence the success of a TV/Film so having your ideas rejected may not be a reflection of your talent, it just might be that you haven't met the right people at the right time! Either way, have faith in your skillset and don't give up.
Can you share any top tips for making the most of the mentoring opportunity and how to be an effective mentee?
My top tip to make the most of this fantastic opportunity is to really just go to the meetings with an open mind. I first went to the meetings with a long list of structured question that were based on a particular theme but that's really not how real conversations flow at all! I often found that once myself and Gareth started talking about the industry, new questions would form in my head and suddenly all the things that I planned prior were long forgotten. Having a backup list of general questions is a good idea but I would recommend not getting too caught up in trying to get everything answered in a structure Q+A manner will limit the flow of the conversation and will also limit the possibility of talking about ideas you hadn't considered before!
Why would you recommend the scheme to other students?
I definitely recommend this scheme to others. This whole experience has been incredibly inspiring and motivating - it has definitely been a major highlight to my university journey. I still find it crazy that I have been able to pick the brains of the creator of my favourite tv show! Gareth has been such a wealth of knowledge and has been nothing but helpful and kind throughout the entire process. This is something that I would never would have had access to elsewhere and it's an opportunity like no other. Even if you're not too sure of what sector you'd like to go into, it's still worth applying to this programme just so you gain someone else's perspective. I am so grateful to the Careers Network team and of course, Gareth, for this fantastic opportunity.