Acclaimed producer Rebecca O’Brien, creative and business partner of Ken Loach, provided the opening keynote of the symposium with an industry perspective in a talk which explored her own experiences as a producer, current issues in the industry and new models for producing in the future. Noting that “For as long as there is a need for content that is entertaining, there will always be a need for someone to wrangle it all together” she observed that “we can’t rely on people like Andrew [MacDonald] just popping out of the woodwork” and that in film the “goalposts are constantly shifting… there is never only one approach to making a film.” Speaking of the future and the multiplicity of platforms and technologies on which film is being distributed O’Brien observed:

“We talk about “convergence” now, but once film and TV drama were interchangeable …  We seem to be moving back in that direction because there are so many new layers available to us – the new producer needs to know how to navigate this variety, this potential, have a view as to what might be the best format with which to exploit their idea.”

Reflecting on how best to prepare young producers for this world she concluded: “It seems to me that the way forward in training our new producers is to give them bite size courses that fit their bite size world.  I think that suited me in my own learning journey and it seems to suit the apprentice producers I work with.”

The remainder of the first day saw the delegates discuss and debate the keynote, their differing approaches to the selection, training and development of creative producers and share their ‘best kept secrets’ by explaining how they use specific exercises or projects to nurture creative producing skills.