News Reel & Blog

Written by Jack Hopkins on 31st August 2018

The Searchlight Team will be once again sponsoring the ”How To Freelance” session at this year's London BAFTA Guru Live, providing tips on how to represent yourself effectively and managing your freelance career. 

BAFTA Guru Live is a 2-day event with industry masterclasses, panels and Q&As for aspiring creatives - the London leg of the festival will take place in London on 15th & 16th September. 

The ”How To Freelance” session will be hosted by Sara Putt on the 16th, hosting an insightful Q&A session for anyone trying to break into the industry as a freelancer. 

Our Senior Consultants will also be on-hand afterwards to offer advice on sculpting yours CVs and cover letters to give you the best chance of breaking into such an amazing industry. 

We hope to see lots of budding creatives during the sessions - be sure to tell anyone who is interested that The Searchlight Team will be there!

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Written by Jack Hopkins on 24th August 2018

We went up to Scotland to see what was going down at The Edinburgh Television Festival. It turns out a lot was going down, with over 2000 delegates in attendance chomping at the bit to hear the latest news and announcements from various industry leaders and to network like they’ve never networked before. 

Searchlight were an Affiliate Sponsor at this year’s festival, sponsoring the Wi-Fi at the event across all 3 days which gave us the opportunity to celebrate creativity, diversity and inspirational talent, and to debate the major issues facing the industry.

Zoe Ball hosted the our first session of the day, and it was full to the rafters. The ‘Meet The Controller’ talk explored the ways in which The BBC are developing and transforming their programming to drive the broadcaster forward. Charlotte Moore, Director of Content, explained how The BBC are always trying to push the boundaries, marking “British content for British people” and building on the fact they had 7 out of the top 10 dramas of last year. She also announced that Peaky Blinders would be moving to BBC1 and that they are working on a Les Miserables series that would be filmed on-site, rather than in a studio.

It’s not just drama that The BBC are focusing on though, with Allison Kirkman, Controller of Factual Commissioning, confirming new documentaries that focus on topics close to home with celebrities like Rio Ferdinand, Chris Packham and Vicky McClure. The Controller of Comedy Commissioning, Shane Allen, also discussed the role that comedy plays in the progression of The BBC, and discussed the new Alan Partridge series and his return to The BBC. There’s certainly exciting times ahead for the broadcaster, as they attempt to adapt to stay competitive in a marketplace that is diluted with content.

Next up was Joanna Lumley, speaking with her long-term colleague Clive Tulloh about her on-screen career. It was a brilliant exploration into what acting was like for a single-mother throughout the 70’s and 80’s, the trials and tribulations of securing a role on a long-running production and how she’s adapted to enter the twilight years of her career.

She’s certainly portrayed a wide array of characters in a variety of different shows. In her early years, she was quite unceremoniously cast as a girlfriend or a sister – never as a leading female character. It was only a matter of time though, as she secured a major part in The Avengers as Purdey, the martial-arts expert spy who could kick her way out of any situation. Absolutely Fabulous was undoubtedly her swansong, portraying the uniquely immortal Patsy, which was a role she actually wanted to contain as she explored other adventures. Recently, these adventures have come in the form of travel shows, one of the highlights being Girl Friday which sees her abandoned on an uninhabited island, having to fend for herself. She ended the session by partaking in a Q&A, revealing that she feels like technology has been the biggest advancement through her career and that Come Dine With Me is her go-to show at the moment.

Last up was Lauren Laverne and the controllers from Sky UK. Zai Bennett, Director of Programmes explained how Sky used to be a mid-level provider of content but now they’re at the forefront of original productions. One of the main recent successes by Sky is their shift towards creating original content, pumping funding into new shows that push the boundaries to make their shows household favorites. After all, this is the most important aspect of progressing as a fee-paying service provider, by giving fee-paying people the content they want to see and creating a long lasting relationship.

When asked about the recent dip in the success of their entertainment programmes, Bennett established that each section of Sky’s output has different timelines. After the re-launch of Sky one in late last year, it will take entertainment programmes to flourish a bit longer than drama and comedy as it’s all about fitting in with the ethos of the channel, and with comedy and drama you know where you stand more than unscripted entertainment. It was also established that pre-watershed comedy just can’t compete with post-watershed, with future shows like The Reluctant Landlord and Curfew reflecting that trend. One word that kept popping up throughout the session was “hooky”, and all of those on the panel believe that you need to be hooked to a show to want to pay for it. It sounds pretty obvious but it’s the ethos that they are using going forward as they try and knock Netflix and Amazon Prime down a peg or two.  

We had a cracking time at the festival, and we hope you did too. Thanks to the organisers, speakers and all the delegates that made it such an insightful day and that there IS a hugely bright future for TV and digital content.

Were you there at the festival? We’d love to hear what your favorite part was!


Written by Jack Hopkins on 14th August 2018

I think we’ll all agree that prices for the cinema can be a bit on steep side sometimes, especially in London. But, there’s nothing quite like going to the cinema, with many cinemas launching new incentives to entice new and existing customers to watch new blockbusters and art house movies. This week we’re going to look at the competition coming up against cinemas, how cinemas are reacting and how the cinematic experience is changing to keep things fresh. 

The growing popularity of the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime and their ability to churn out content at an impressive rate means that it’s becoming a lot easier and cheaper to watching films on demand, instead of paying more that what a month’s subscription would be to go to the cinema and watch it.

In an attempt to thwart the power shift towards VOD, some franchises are beginning to offer subscription services themselves. Cineworld offer an Unlimited Cinema subscription for £17.90 a month, which has been largely successful. It allows you can see any film at any time, get 10% off refreshments and get exclusive previews screening of upcoming releases. Recent advances in Moviepass’s exploits in America has provided a bit of negative press for cinematic subscription services however. They have delayed the availability of the biggest movies and narrowed the selection down to two films, which has been met with severe online backlash.

Indie cinemas have also felt the brunt of VOD but have reacted positively to the advancements. No.6 Cinema in Portsmouth boasts the largest screen on the south coast, and offer tickets to Under 25s for £5.00. Cinemas in London such as; Ritzy, Peckhamplex and Genesis all provide screenings that are cheaper than most of the bigger theatres in London, often providing more exclusive and less mainstream films compared to the usual commercial blockbuster.

Experiences like Secret Cinema and screenings at Christmas markets and fairs such as Winter Wonderland and Winterville have also grown in popularity, allowing the audience to go a bit further than watching the film and truly immersing themselves in the cinematic experience. This helps justify paying out for an individual experience, purely as it’s something that can’t be replicated at home to a similar standard.

In our eyes, the magical experience of the cinema will always be worth it, and it’s be coming increasingly cheaper as franchises beginning to lower their prices to get people through the door. We’re curious though, have you stopped going to the cinema as much with the likes of Netflix and other VOD services being so accessible?

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Written by Jack Hopkins on 3rd August 2018

It’s something that’s nearly always called for when a hit TV-show is at its peak or is ended pretty abruptly, but is switching to the big screen a positive move for the lasting legacy on a popular franchise? We’re going to look at the best and the worst of films inspired by TV shows and what HBO’s Deadwood might look like on the big screen after it was dramatically cut after only 3 seasons.

One of the best recent TV shows to give a big-screen spectacle was The Simpsons, which they did with great avail. It was always going to be difficult to transform at 30-minute odd episode into a feature length movie. The ease of watching The Simpsons on the small-screen and the ability to dip in and out of episodes of its charm as a show. The one factor of the show that stands out as a major contributory to the film’s success is the stationary narrative of the entire franchise, in which anything can happen in the world without having an effect on the family or future episodes, thus allowing the family to explore a different avenue in the film and return back to normal when they revert back to the small-screen.

One notable example of a small screen attempt at a feature length film that didn’t really work out is Michael Mann’s 2006 film Miami Vice. Although it boasts a box office taking of over $160 million and a genuinely great trailer, it cost $136 million to make and isn‘t really held in high regard amongst critics – which could be damaging to the legacy of the entire franchise but I’m sure some purist may disagree.

The one we’re most excited about is the long-awaited return of the cutthroat series that is Deadwood. It originally aired in 2004 and was cut in 2006, with the film due to come out next year which promises to tie up all the loose ends. Deadwood always struggled with viewers and it’s storyline of a lawless America encampment doesn’t ultimately appeal to the masses. Those of us who have watched it will be excited to see how everything is concluded, and what happens to the characters that sparked the imagination of all those who watched it back in the day.   

What TV shows would you like to be made into a movie? Would they be any good on the big screen?

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