THE ROYAL Television Society hosted a student media conference at the Lowry Theatre on Wednesday (February 22) with talks featuring a range of high profile TV industry speakers.

The four-hour conference saw specialists sharing their experience and advice on; using digital and social media, getting into the industry, news gathering and exploring virtual and augmented reality.

Richard Frediani, senior programme editor at ITV Evening News, hosted the Royal television conference and introduced the first guest speakers, from the digital team of Lime Pictures – who create the likes of Hollyoaks, The Only Way is Essex and Geordie Shore.

Guests from Lime Pictures consisted of Alan Toner (Digital Creative Director), Carly Stratton (Digital Campaign manager for Hollyoaks), Richard Linnell (Actor who plays Alfie Nightingale in Hollyoaks) and Graham Gallery (Head of Video).

On screen, actor Richard Linnell talks about Hollyoaks campaign for Cancer.

Lime Pictures emphasised the importance of social media in helping Hollyoaks to engage with their audience, getting people to watch the episodes and extending story lines further.

Carly Stratton connects Hollyoaks with a wide range of social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Spotify and continuously implements new, interesting things to make the Hollyoaks more digital.

She said: “We love going live on Facebook because it’s great for the fans to engage with us and we can do it anywhere on set from the hot tubs to the Domino’s van.
“We find ways to link the show with things that are currently happening in the world.”

When the infamous picture of Beyoncé pregnant with twins was released online, Hollyoaks digital team created a replica with their character Myra McQueen, who was pregnant on the show, which went viral and was reported on The Sun and The Daily Mail.  

Hollyoaks actor Richard said: “It’s a very impressive copy, nailed that photo!”

The digital team revealed that Hollyoaks were the first soap to do a live video stream on Facebook and Instagram and also shoot a 360° video.

Graham Gallery discussed his role on the team; creating behind the scenes and access all area videos, trailers, monthly spotlight videos, documentaries and campaign videos to raise awareness on some of the real life issues surrounding Hollyoaks’ story lines.

“Our trailer for the new year reached 4.3 million views” he added.

During the networking session, students and industry specialists interacted and there was a chance for students to ask specific questions, get advice and make contacts.

Charlotte Kerrell, 19, drama and theatre studies student spoke to Hollyoaks actor Richard about how he landed his role on the soap.

In the Q&A, Alan also gave some very worthy advice to media students looking to get into the TV industry:

“Be good to the people you meet on the way up because you’ll always meet them again on the way back down.
“It’s just luck, be passionate and just go for it”.

Guest speakers Rachel Braund, journalist for ITV News and Laura Gibson, social creative lead at ITV also shared their experience and knowledge on landing a role in TV.

“Work experience is the most important thing, paid or unpaid,” Laura advised.
“I once fed a banana to a producer while he was working, I just wanted to be helpful.”

Rachel said: “Show you care about what you’re applying for – you get out of it what you put into it.
“Take rejection but use it in your favour.”

Sarah Jones, former TV correspondent for GMTV, is very passionate about storytelling through Virtual Reality and 360° videos. She shared her enthusiasm for the latest form of journalism as she allowed a student try out a virtual reality headset for the first time.

“Everyone has a story and stories are best experienced,” Sarah expressed.

“Virtual reality is ace. It gives us the power to truly share other people’s experiences.”

Sarah said that virtual reality headsets allow you to become the story and put yourself in someone else’s shoes so that you can really get close to the stories being told.

The final guests of the day where a group of producers, actors and team members from ITV and UCLan who were involved in the successful project ‘Soap in a week’.

This project was aimed to inspire students, share skills and source future talent as an original drama was filmed and broadcasted in just one week.

The ideas and execution for the project were created specifically by UCLan students but cast and crew members from Emmerdale and Coronation Street helped with acting, scripting and shooting.

Actors, producers and editors from ITV and UCLan talk about their success of ‘soap in a week’.

After showing a clip of the first episode of the soap, each member of the team spoke about their role in the soap and any advice they had to give about working on TV.

Connor McIntyre, Coronation Street star who played an acting role in the soap, ended the talk with a passionate word of advice for the students.

He said: “Find what it is that you truly want to do and do it like Hercules.”

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