News Reel & Blog

Written by Jack Hopkins on 11th December 2018

In true Coen Brothers fashion, another narratively spectacular movie has hit the headlines – this time though, it’s arrived primarily on the small screen.  The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is their first directorial outing since Hail Cesar (2016) and it’s received mixed reviews from critics and viewers alike. In this week’s blog we’re going to look at the positives and negatives taken from the film, the format in which it was released and what it really tells us about what life was like in the wild West.

The Coen Brothers are kings of character building and narrative progression, often implanting and dissecting societal problems into an overlapping fictional world.  They’ve won several awards over the years as a pair; including Academy Awards for the epics, Fargo (1996), No Country For Old Men (2008) and Bridge of Spies (2015), and it’s hard to see anything but a continuing trend in terms of accolades with The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

One factor that heavily contributes to their filmic successes is the level of on-screen talent they seem to attract. They’ve established long-lasting relationships with some top talent including Frances McDormand, Jeff Bridges and George Clooney. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs follows in the same vein, with James Franco, Liam Neeson and Brendan Gleeson all holding major roles within the film.

The film itself is a collection of six individual short stories, all exploring a different aspect of the wild West. One questionable aspect of the film is the fact that none of the stories are connected in any way, but each story contributes to give an overarching portrayal of what the West was and the myth it continues to be. The 3 stand-out stories from our perspective were ‘All Gold Canyon’, ‘Near Algodones’ and ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ itself, portraying 3 of the main aspects of the wild West that remain ripe in contemporary portrayals, namely gold-digging, duelling and bank-robbing.

Some have argued that it doesn’t really work as a film due to the randomness of the stories and how they aren’t directly connected, but maybe this is possibly a pretentious way of describing the conditions of the West and how volatile and unpredictable the lifestyle was. It was previously reported that it would be released as a series, which could have possibly worked a bit better due to Netflix creating copious amounts of content that ensures audience retention. Equally, it could be a message about the binge nature that surrounds Netflix and the way its content is consumed. 

Either way, definitely watch The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and see if the format works for you!

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 13th November 2018

The world lost a truly imaginative pioneer on Monday. A man who created his own universe, heroes and alter-egos with a stroke of a pencil.  His death sparked a gratuitous explosion of thanks and condolences from celebrities and fans alike, and it’s become increasingly clear that it’s nigh on impossible to think of an individual who has influenced contemporary culture as much Stan Lee has.

Throughout his time as an editor, writer and publisher he co-created fictional characters including Spider-Man, The Hulk, Doctor Strange, The Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Black Panther, the X-Men, and—with his brother, Larry Lieber— the characters Ant-Man, Iron Man, and Thor. In doing so, he pioneered a more layered approach to writing superheroes and made them what they are today.

Before his rise to his unprecedented status within modern society, Lee served in the US army writing manuals and cartoons. Upon leaving the army, Lee joined what is now known as Atlas Comics, writing stories for a whole host of genres including romance, Westerns, humour, science fiction, medieval adventure, horror and suspense. He became more and more disillusioned with the work that he was doing, eventually turning his gaze towards superheroes, joining a new superhero team which allowed his imaginative characters to really gain some traction.

The first superheroes Lee and artist Jack Kirby created together were the Fantastic Four. The success from this first project launched the team’s work into the mainstream, leading to the commissioning of a huge collection of new superheroes, all living through the same universe.  Lee and Kirby collated a group of there newly created characters together into the team title The Avengers, which is now the basis of one of the highest grossing film series’ of all time. 

The cross-universe nature of Lee’s creations has helped develop an endless narrative cycle that allows characters to jump in and out of films at the pleasure of the writer. Lee has been credited executive producer on most Marvel film and television projects beginning with the 1990 Captain America film. In the 46 films that Lee has been an Executive Producer, a remarkable $26,410,622,876 has been made across world-wide box offices. He has had cameo appearances in 42 films in total, thankfully completing the footage for his cameo in the upcoming Avengers 4 film prior to his death on Monday.

He eventually retired from Marvel, but continued as a public figurehead for the company, allowing him ton continue his own creative ventures into his 90s, right up until his death.

Stan Lee was a true creator who pushed the boundaries of our imaginations, and the entire world is sad to see him go – but, as he said himself… “Excelsior!”

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 9th November 2018

The shear amount of content that is widely available to a vast amount of people means that streaming VOD companies need to adapt and progress their content in order to remain at the top of the pile – providers such as Netflix and Amazon Video have gradually turned their gaze towards original feature films.

How can newly commissioned feature length films impact the content conflict? They will obviously cost more to produce than a single series of a television show, but it’s how much exposure they continue to receive after the initial honey-moon release period which is the question.  Series’ can be watched over and over again, drawing bigger viewership due to their length. Netflix’s move into films needs to ensure that the content remains uniquely ‘Netflix’,  as they have done with binging shows over a short amount of time.

Operation: Finale is one of these originally commissioned films by Netflix that has all the production value, cast and historic significance, but ultimately has something missing for a lot of reviewers. Charles Bramesco from The Guardian states that it ‘it isn’t the best version the Eichmann story that could have been made. But it’s also impossible not to sort of enjoy watching it anyway.’  The film almost feels like it’s purely Netflix flexing it’s productive muscles, showcasing how much money they can pump into a single film and the calibre of performers they can attract.

The Eichmann story is a narrative that will definitely be re-visited in the long-run, but Netflix have revisited a horrific subject whilst it’s still fresh in the minds of many. There have already been a couple of reproductions of the terrifying events that occurred in Norway, and Netflix commissioned their own film to portray the events. Neil Smith from the BBC states that they’re all ‘made with sensitivity and respect. Inevitably, though, they raise questions as to whether events of this nature can and should be recreated on screen.’ The fact that Netflix is a paid service almost gives Netflix a bit more license to make a controversial film like 22 July, as people are paying money to see hard-hitting content that they can’t get on terrestrial television, but it does still contribute to the argument whether a film should be made about such horrifying events.

Outlaw King (which is released on Netflix today!) is also a film that has a huge budget and production value, causing many to suggest that it would be more suited to the big screen instead of the small screen – that’s exactly what Netflix plan to do.  A theatrical release is necessary, per Academy regulations, for a film that wants to be entered at the Academy Awards. Tasha Robinson from The Verge states how  “the streaming service is inevitably still going to be caught up in the conflict between how to best serve its paying audience and what’s best for its profile and recognition as a legitimate film studio.” The fact that Netflix’s commissioning slate is attracting such pivotal filmmakers and having the capacity to enter films into such prestigious awards is one of the most appealing factors of the service, and it needs to ensure it continues to do so.

The conundrum for Netflix is whether it would want to make the transition into a legitimate production studio or not. Their processes are a lot different to those of a traditional studio; the quick turnaround on shoots and the marketing that surrounds releases are certainly unconventional. This possibly could act in their favour should they focus all their energy and resources on production and rejuvenating the production processes for all – would this impact their ability to provide quick and exclusive content on demand? The unique selling point that’s made it such a powerhouse today.

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 1st November 2018

The Searchlight Team welcomed trainees from the Media Trust to our offices at WeWork Aldwych House to provide an insight into what makes a great CV, a stand-out cover letter and how to break into the media and entertainment industries.

Our session was part of The Media Trust’s Creativity Works: Multimedia Genius Training, supported by Mayor’s Fund for London and Berkeley Foundation. It’s a ‘free intensive 10-week crash-course of high-impact media masterclasses and employment skills training for media-focused Londoners who are not in employment, education or training.’

We started with an introduction to some of our employment histories as consultants. Rosie has an extensive background in production and events, Suzanne has nearly 10 years experienced in media recruitment, Amy originally came from a retail background and Victoria was originally a dancer and an actor! We then continued with a deep insight into what should and shouldn’t be in a CV, followed by discussing the structure of a cover letter and how they should be laid out. We then had a Q&A session where attendees had the chance to dispel any myths or concerns they had about recruitment within the media industry.

Following on, we put on a workshop that pulled together all the advice and insights into the job application process we had presented on. Those in attendance had to put together cover letters from example job-ads, with our consultants also on hand to offer CV advice.

We had a really great time we hope those who attended our session did too! We really hope to see you as you progress throughout your media careers and who knows, our paths may cross again down the line!

Huge thanks to WeWork for their support during the session, ensuring nobody went hungry with a hefty supply of doughnuts for the trainees!

Lastly, many thanks to The Media Trust, The Mayor’s fund and The Berkeley Foundation for everything they do to provide opportunities for young creatives to break into the industry, and for allowing us to play a small part in their inspirational training scheme.

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 31st October 2018

Happy Halloween!

It’s that time of year again where everyone conjures up last-minute costume ideas, eats their bodyweight in sweets and pretends to not be in when the trick or treaters come knocking.  In this week’s Halloween blog we’re going to take a look at 3 poignantly timed releases that have attempted to rejuvenate the horror genre once again. 

The new re-boot of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix has been met with mixed reviews. The original show, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, which  debuted in 1996, ushered in a witch sub-culture about alienated youths. But the new series seems to completely ignore this trope and combats the ideas and misconceptions around witchcraft itself. It’s quintessentially American, as it should and would be with the executive producers of Riverdale on board, but when it’s trying to compete with other contemporary horror series’ it seems to miss a trick slightly. That’s not to say it won’t be a good watch though as a huge amount of witch and horror enthusiasts binged it over the weekend.

The absolutely terrifying The Haunting of Hill House (also aired on Netflix) is exactly what you want from a jumpy, terrifying show. It’s a lot more substantial and layered than the usually jump-a-thon though, as the narrative dips in and out of past and present, inviting the audience into a world where a ghost could come out of anywhere at any time. If you haven’t watched it yet, keep your eyes peeled for some of the lingering creepy visitors, as there’s a whole host of haunted hosts just wondered around in the shot.

David Gordon Green’s reboot of John Carpenter’s 1978 cult classic Halloween has also been a breath of fresh air amongst viewers and critics alike. It’s not particularly clever or mysterious, but its traditional no-holds-barred slasher feel is exactly what you want in a room full of unsuspecting viewers. There’s blood, nail-screeching, screaming, it’s got everything – including having an element of comedy intertwined into the script through Danny McBride, exaggerating the historical battle between good and evil even more. It’s an experience that’s better spent shared as its immersive and engaging narrative is so ridiculous that it warrants an outlandish reaction.  

What’s your favourite contemporary horror? How does it hold up compared to previous horrors?

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 19th October 2018

MIPCOM 2018 has officially ended, and it’s a return home for many movers and shakers in the television industry after a 4 days of networking sessions, pitches and screenings. Here are our highlights from one of the most pivotal events in the television calendar.

Jamie Oliver stole the show on Day 1 of this year’s MIPCOM. His estimated global TV audience reach of 64 million makes it easy to notice the effect that Jamie Oliver has had on the world of cooking and entertainment in general, whilst installing positive social change in his productions. He stated that he setting up his own production company was a natural next step after having success purely as a presenter and that “to understand that the grade is as valuable as the sound man, the direction, the imagery. That’s beautiful; the craft of TV.”

Colman Domingo from Fear The Walking Dead joined Josh Sapan, president and CEO of AMC Networks, on the main stage on Day 2.  Domingo is in the middle of developing an adaptation of his play Dot  for AMC, telling the story of a woman at the head of a family with Alzheimer’s disease. He stated that “he was hesitant to pitch it to AMC initially, since it felt like a smaller, personal story, but the network has supported the project and his vision.” Showing that the desire to produce personal stories is still as popular as ever, as these are the types of shows that strike a real chord with audiences.

Issa Rae, the creator, producer and star of HBO show Insecure, was the highlight on Day 3 as she was named MIPCOM 2018 personality of the year. She recalled experiences throughout her career where she was told that there wasn’t an audience for the kind of content she wanted to create. Her stance in response to these comments was that “the answer for me was putting something online for my friends to watch”. She also thought there’s been an important change since the 1990s and early 2000s, when network shows were “geared to capture the biggest audiences possible.” This could be seen through shows such as Orange is The New Black and Good Girls that push the limitations of the norm.

It was the return of The Wit’s ‘Fresh TV’ sessions on Day 4, with CEO Virginia Mouseler stating that 22% of new dramas in 2018 have been based on IPs and real events, which is up 10% on 2017. There were 3 future series’ that caught our eye: Strangers (All3Media International) about an accident that turns out to be a murder, Escape From Mafia  (RAI COM) about  a family of Sicilian immigrants in America in the early 20th century, and Butterfly  (Fremantle) about an 11 year-old who was assigned male at birth, but who makes the decision to transition.

MIPCOM 2018 seemed to have been thriving as much as the industry itself, which is great news for everyone involved – we hope everyone had an enjoyably successful Mip!

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 9th October 2018

There’s been a recent trend for alternative bands and artists to shift their sound towards a genre that is vastly different to their original sound - this could be in the form of remixes, album reworks or guest features.

In the build up to the first ever National Album Day on 13th October, we’re going to look at 3 specific examples of when this has recently happened, and how it progresses the band’s sound as well as the genre and industry it finds itself in.

Flume, an Australian producer and musician, usually only focuses on electronic music. His debut album ‘Flume’ (2012), was released with a deluxe edition which was a replica of the original album just with the inclusion of some of the best hip-hop artists around. "Insane", which adds a hard-hitting rap by Killer Mike is one of its highlights alongside. "Space Cadet", with lyrics by Ghostface Killah, is another momentous song. It could be seen as a stand-alone rap mix-tape, but it almost acts as an extension of the oringal album and opens the musician to an alternative fan base.

Mr Jukes is similar, but strays even further away from his original sound. Mr Jukes is Jack Steadman, the lead singer of the alternative band Bombay Bicycle Club, and completely shifts his sound that’s full of guitars and riffs to a jazzier offering in ‘God’s First’ (2017). Artists such as, BJ the Chicago Kid, Lalah Hathaway, De La Soul and the late great Charles Bradley are all sampled on the soul album. The album comes in the wake of an indefinite hiatus by Bombay Bicycle Club, but this funky piece of work still strikes similar collaborative chords with the amount of different artists that are featured on it.

Alt-J have released the most recent example that showcases a band’s shift in sound. ‘Reduxer,’ (2018) Alt-J reworking ‘Relaxer’s’ (2017) 11 original tracks with the inclusion of talent like Pusha-T, Danny Brown, Twin ShadowGoldlinkRejjie Snow, and The Alchemist. Not only is the original album re-worked, a couple of songs are repeated in ‘Reduxer’ but are re-mixed by different artists. In some aspects, it feels like the content is being stretched, but a couple of the songs are so different and ground-breaking that they are outstanding songs in their own rights.

Can you think of any other bands that have gone down an alternative musical path? Were they successful?

If you haven’t listened to some of the above, we highly recommend that you do!

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 28th September 2018

The Ryder Cup is back. It’s the ultimate biennial golf competition between teams from Europe and the United States, with the venue alternating between courses in the United States and Europe – this year it’s hosted at Le Golf National in Guyancourt, just outside Paris.

It’s a huge date in the golfing calendar, with fans all around the world tuning in to see the feisty pinnacle of professional golf. The fact that a little known golfer called Tiger Woods is back to his previous high standards of a bygone era clearly explains this year’s hype and the consequent predicted viewing figures, with audiences generally increasing by over 40% when Tiger’s involved.

When the tournament is based in the US, the estimated worldwide income generated is around $35-40 million, while for the European contests, it is estimated to be around £15 million. This is because Americans are willing to pay more for Ryder Cup matches that are aired during their primetime rather than a match that is played in the middle of the night in Europe.

Thankfully, this years tournament is going well with a home advantage, with Europe leading 5-3 after the first day. But, as with all golf tournaments, it’s not over until the final put.

Hope you enjoy watching this weekend, we certainly will be!

Come on #TeamEurope  

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 20th September 2018

We once again sponsored the “How to freelance” session at this year’s London BAFTA Guru Live at 195 Piccadilly and it was yet another amazing day, as it always is.  

BAFTA Guru live is a 2-day event with industry masterclasses, panels and Q&As for aspiring creatives - the London leg of the festival took place last weekend and was an outstanding success, yet again, with over 100 audience members in attendance at our session.

Searchlight sponsored the packed session “How to be a freelancer” and Cathy Alford, Searchlight’s Managing Director, introduced Sara Putt who provided valuable tips on how to represent yourself effectively and manage a freelance career.

Sara continued by stating that as a freelancer you need to build your brand as an individual company, and that etiquette on social media can play a big part in whether you get a job or not.

Personal relationships and their impact on future placements was also heavily focused on, with personal relationships being labelled as “career currency”.

Sara ended her talk by stating that, wherever you go, you should also try and double your network, getting your name out there ensuring that the work doesn’t stop.

The audience were then invited to partake in a Q&A with both Cathy and Sara.

Our consultants were on hand afterwards to host a CV surgery. Suzanne was there to provide guidance on putting together a great CV and possible career-paths. Whilst Ian, our freelance consultant, helped budding creatives refine and perfect their show-reels which are gospel when it comes to finding work.

Many thanks to BAFTA and the Partnerships team for inviting us back and helping with the organisation of the session and the surgery – it wouldn’t have been such a success without you!

And may thanks to Sara Putt for hosting a brilliantly insightful session!

Thanks for a great day – and if you were there, thanks for coming!  

#GuruLive

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 14th September 2018

There’s always been the capacity for musicians to transfer their trade over to the visual side of entertainment, whether that be through documentaries, cameo appearances or live performances. The Beatles were the masters of this, playing themselves in multiple feature films as well as an abundance of documented live performances. We’re going to look at a couple of recent music documentaries, how live performances are changing and the positives and negatives of having musicians acting in films.

One recent successful music documentary is Stone Roses: Made of Stone (2013). Directed by Shane Meadows (This is England, Dead Man’s Shoes, Somers Town), the film shows the Stone Roses preparing for their comeback tour in 2012. It’s a special film because Meadows himself is a huge fan and so is appreciative of the effect the band can have on someone. The same can be said about Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Baby Driver) and his latest project, filming his beloved Sparks on their world tour and combining the footage with the content he filmed during their gig at the O2 Forum, Kentish Town.

Music documentaries are significant because they grant access to adoring fans and reveal unseen material. It also allows viewers to see their idols in a more casual light, rather than a performing one. New Order fans will be able to do just that before their only London show in 2018, at Alexandra Palace in November. Their new show, a concert film/documentary about the group titled New Order: Decades will air on Sky Arts on September 22 at 9pm. This will surely ramp up the excitement for the gig - not that it needs it, with the band announcing today that it’s sold out.

Arctic Monkeys have come back after a 5 year hiatus and are currently in the midst of a sold-out UK tour. On Monday, during the song ‘Cornerstone’, a cameraman followed Alex turner around the stage as he serenaded the hit song directly into the lens. It felt like it was part of a documentary in the making with how personal and established Turner looked as he commanded the stage and crowd simultaneously. It certainly strikes contrasts with the band’s appearance in Le Donk & Scor-Zay-Zee, the mock music documentary written and directed by that man again, Shane Meadows. The band come across shy and reserved which may come as a surprise. In reality, it actually allowed fans to deeper explore their favourite band, seeing them in a new scenario allowed supporters to see them in a more natural state, rather than a performing one.

Then there are films like This is Spinal Tap (1984) which totally turn the discussion on its head. The mock documentary style film shows a fictitious band in and out of the limelight, further blurring the line between reality and superficial performance. This blurring is what some music documentaries sometimes struggle with due to the fact it’s always questionable, like with many live recordings, how genuine the people in front of the camera are, and whether they’re playing up to the occasion. 

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 7th September 2018

Our spidey-sense is officially tingling. Today’s the day the newest game in the Spider-Man franchise is released. Being brought to PlayStation exclusively, the most recent instalment of our favourite web-slinging vigilante is due to continue the rich vein of form of Spider-man video games. We’re going to look into the longevity of the multi-billion dollar franchise, the ways in which it has advanced its brand across multiple platforms and what’s in stall for the future.

Spiderman first graced our mortal world within a comic in 1962. He’s a fictional character who was created by Stan Lee and is one of the major jewels in Marvel’s crown. Since then, he’s featured across pretty much every medium possible, including a number of movies, television shows, and video game adaptations. The beauty of Spider-Man and other super heroes is the amount of enemies that they comes up against, with the likes of Doctor Octopus and Green Goblin featuring heavily in the storylines, epitomised by the imminent release of a stand-alone Venom movie featuring Tom Hardy.

The films alone have grossed nearly $5 billion worldwide, and in a similar style to James Bond, the regeneration of the character into different variations and opinions of what Peter Parker should resemble helps keep the character and the franchise fresh. Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland have all carried the baton in recent years and have received huge critical acclaim in the process, with many holding the original Spider-man movie and it’s sequel, Spider-Man 2, as two of the best super hero movies of all time as it debunks the dreaded second film flop theory.

The natural progression from films is to video games. Spider-Man games have always done well due to the popularity of the films, but the actual games themselves more than hold their own in the gaming world. Spider-Man (2000) on PlayStation 1 was an incredibly futuristic game which was reflected in its eventual "Platinum" sales award, indicating sales of at least 300,000 copies in the UK. IGN gave it an outstanding review, stating that it provided an “excellent framework on which to base future Spider-Man games.” And it certainly has done that, with the franchise releasing on average a game a year since 2000.  

The new Spider-Man game that’s released today has seemed to have followed suit. Developed by Insomniac Games (the studios behind Ratchet & Clank and Spyro The Dragon), the game has received rave reviews, being rewarded a 9/10 by GameSpot, 9.5/10 by Game Informer and 4.5/5 by GamesRadar.

What have been your favourite video games? Have they been derived from films or have they been originals?

  >>


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!

  >>


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?

  >>


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?

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 11th July 2018

On the day of England’s first semi-final in 28 years, we thought we’d have a look at some our favorite sports films since 1966. Sports films create a romantic relatable storyline, featuring scenarios and situations that the audience have often experienced themselves within a sports arena. Sports films often include idyllic sports stars to blur the line between fiction and reality, ensuring that they stay popular for decades to come as they remain nostalgic.

Slapshot (1977) still holds its own when it comes to categorizing great sports films. One of the originals, Slapshot follows Paul Newman as the player-coach of the Charleston Chiefs as he recruits a trio of violent brothers to strike a spark in his team’s season. Like a lot great sports films, the crisis comes in the form of the team’s liquidation or collapse, allowing the narrative to drive towards an inevitable but equally rewarding finale.

Escape To Victory (1981) is one of the most iconic sports films, recruiting the likes of Pele, Bobby Moore and Osvaldo Ardiles to play alongside Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone for a team of prisoners against a German team during WW2. It’s the perfect blend or sport and drama without being too cheesy, yes there’s a last minute goal and a lot of jumping around but the entire backdrop of the movie shows that football really is more than just a game. 

Space Jam (1997) was a staple of a lot of childhoods, and like Escape To Victory involves a mega-star in the form of Michael Jordan to drive the narrative forward and appeal to a wider audience. It’s arguably one of the only sports films that could do with a remake, with modern day basketball greats like Lebron James existing as leader of the sport and a face for basketball in the world, who would seamlessly slot into the iconic role should it be remade. 

Remember The Titans (2000) is slightly different as it purely includes actors as sports stars. Denzel Washington plays the part of an African-American football coach in the 1970s. It comments on race relations within American Football and society itself and is a bit more generic in terms of storyline, with team against the odds and up against adversity to beat the ‘baddies’ – never the less, it’s still a cracking watch.

There’s plenty of other sports films out there too, with more contemporary films like Mean Machine, Longest Yard and Invictus all appealing to those crying out for a competitive spectacle. The film world is due another great sports film, perhaps when England win The World Cup on Sunday after winning tonight? We’ll see.

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 5th July 2018

There’s been a recent influx of scripted and non-scripted shows that focus on friendships. Some shows like Richard Ayoade’s Travel Man chucks two celebrities in an unknown place whereas Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing is more subtle and enables memories and nostalgia to drive the narrative forward.  In this weeks blog we’re going to look at what makes quiet friendships so appealing to audiences and how significant ‘small moments’ are to their success.

Lets start with Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing, a personal favourite of ours. It’s not really about the fishing though, it’s about two funny blokes discussing the perils of modern life as an aging man. They reminisce about years gone by over small moments like having a drinking or attempting to catch fish, and it’s as genuine as it gets in terms of on-screen comedy. It really unlocks the important things about modern life by talking about fatal illnesses, mortality, food and alcohol – this ultimately separates it from shows of a similar vein. 

Micky Flanagan’s Detour De France is slightly different to Gone Fishing, in the sense it’s a celebrity dragging his ‘non-famous’ mate around with him, rather than having two recognisable comics bouncing off each other. Micky cycles around France with an old friend he met during his days as a decorator, which opens up a whole new sphere in which civilian life mixes with that of a renown comic, giving the audience an opportunity to vicariously connect with the programme on a personal level in order to really relish the small moments of a friendship.

Detour De France and Gone Fishing are certainly un-scripted, there’s no doubt about it. But some on-screen relationships are sensationalised and exaggerated, causing a different portrayal of the on-screen characters and their relationship. Audiences are still baffled as to the extent of reality in Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s The Trip, which is an idea they play on in the show. They continually have fiery debates about each others careers and life choices.Brydon has revealed that he “would never have such a toxic conversation with a friend.” It’s easier to look at The Trip as more scripted in the sense that they have an agenda of exaggerating certain traits for specific effects, rather than Bob and Paul relishing the opportunity to discuss hilarious anecdotes without the restrictions of fabricated agendas.

Each show has its positives and negatives but one thing’s for sure, audiences can’t get enough of watching friendships flourish in front of their eyes on the small screen.

If you’ve watched both The Trip and Gone Fishing, which do you prefer? If you haven’t seen them yet, what are you waiting for?

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 29th June 2018

Conventions are a great way of delving deeper into something you love, surrounding yourself with like-minded people, needless memorabilia and in most cases, renown people that are involved in the show/genre/game. We’re going to take a look at why they’re such popular and why they remain significant, not only for the actual industry they promote but also to the adoring fans.

The most prestigious convention in the world has got to be Comic Con in San Diego. It’s a multi-genre entertainment and comic convention that features high-profile panels of performers, artists and commentators. This year, AMC are taking a huge posse with them to Comic Con, with the cast and creators of Fear The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul appearing in front of their loyal enthusiasts, with the latter premiering its latest season opener. Comic Con is on 19th Jul– 22nd  July, 2018.

The convention craze has hit The UK too, with cult classic programmes like Only Fools & Horses holding gathering throughout the year, appearing in numerous locations that have a connection to the timeless sitcom. The next one is in Hull, the location for one of it’s most acclaimed episodes ‘To Hull and Back.’ There will be special guests, autographs, displays, exclusives and photo ops which helps maintain the relationship between the show and its viewers for years to come, even though the programme ended some years ago. Only Fools & Horses Hull Convention is on 27th & 28th October, 2018.

The London Film Fair is also a very well attended British convention, which is now in its 45th year. It’s line-up of cult sci-fi actors will have fans flooding in from all over the country. The organisers will be sure to not make the same mistakes as what happened at ‘Tanacom’ though, a ginormous convention that attempted to connect YouTubers and fans. 5,000 tickets were sold for the 3,000 person hotel in California, and 20,000 showed up on the day causing the convention to be shutdown. London Film Fair is happening tomorrow, 30th June, 2018.

Who would you like to see have reunite if you were to go to a convention in the future?

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 21st June 2018

We’re pleased to be featuring Audrey Cairo in this week’s blog. Audrey was a Senior Consultant at Searchlight for a number of years before training as a Career Coach. She now works with a broad range of people helping them identify out what they want from their careers -  and from life in general.  

She’s a real people person, and became a certified coach in 2016, offering support in both personal and professional development.  One of the main aspects of career coaching that Audrey focuses on is the exploration of what someone actually wants from their job. It’s important to find an equilibrium between careers and lives, and she collaborates with the client to tackle this conundrum by delving in to how people personally feel about employment and how this mindset could be improved.

By offering a confidential space, Audrey works with her clients to explore, dream and discover. From here, both parties collaborate to create an action plan that establishes their personal self-worth and motivation within a working environment. She utilizes the importance of a positive mind-set and how self-awareness is key to progression within personal and professional development. One thing that Audrey encourages in her sessions is the element of choice. Knowing everything is your choice can really help you control the direction you would like to take.

Audrey has also been keeping busy with her private clients. She free-lances as a Life Coach for Spark Inside, facilitating workshops in prisons for young males aged 15 to 25 who want to create a crime-free future. She’s also a huge advocate of changing the perception of mental health, working as a Sanctus Coach within a variety of companies & start ups, creating a safe space for people to talk about mental health within the workplace.

Her roots as a consultant haven’t completely left her either! Audrey can be frequently seen at schemes such as RTS Futures, offering advice to aspiring creatives as they attempt to plan their career routes and build their CVs.

You can find out more about Coaching with Audrey Cairo and how to contact her by going to our website.

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 7th June 2018

Twickenham Studios, one of Britain’s most prestigious film studios has made film history with a impressive move up North! It’s to open an arm in Merseyside’s Littlewoods Building, as Liverpool pushes to become the centre point of British cinema.

The studios have struck a ground-breaking deal to take 8,000 square metres within the building, which is currently under a £50 million refurbishment.

Twickenham Studios is one of Britain's oldest film studios and was the biggest of its kind when it opened its doors in 1913. Since then, the studios have contributed towards a hugely impressive collective of titles. Namely, McMafia, Black Mirror, All The Money in the World, The Italian Job and Baby Driver. They were also involved with the first two Beatles films, A Hard Day's Night and Help! Establishing it a staple of the British film industry.

Maria Walker, the CEO of Twickenham Studios states that “this is a major milestone in our history. When we saw the vision for Littlewoods, we knew we had to be a part of what will be an incredibly special place.” The Littlewoods building has been very versatile over the years, facilitating the manufacture of materials for WW2, and now playing a massive part in the future of British cinema. She continues by explaining how "Liverpool's architecture, accessibility and can-do attitude sees film-makers return to the city time and time again. With the added benefit of our studios, they'll have access to gold-standard interior facilities right on the doorstep of unique exterior locations.”

This is an amazing move for British cinema and its future within a Hollywood orientated world. This new Northern outpost will provide a much needed boost to British cinema, as it looks to build on the amazing creativity of the city of Liverpool, which saw over 1,359 days of filming across 289 projects last year.

Congratulations again to Twickenham Studios for achieving this amazing partnership, which will continue to fuel our much-loved film industry!

 

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 31st May 2018

The Searchlight Team were at Google UK to provide an insight into what makes a great CV, a stand-out cover letter and how to break into the media and entertainment industries.

Our session was part of The Media Trust’s Creativity Works: Multimedia Genius Training, supported by Mayor’s Fund for London and Berkeley Foundation. It’s a ‘free intensive 10-week crash-course of high-impact media masterclasses and employment skills training for media-focused Londoners who are not in employment, education or training.’

We started with an introduction to some of our employment histories as consultants. Cathy has a background within film editing, Amy originally came from a retail background and Victoria was originally a dancer and an actor! Victoria then continued with a deep insight into what should and shouldn’t be in a CV and Amy followed by discussing the structure of a cover letter and how they should be laid out. We then had a Q&A session where attendees had the chance to dispel any myths or concerns they had about recruitment within the media industry.

Following on, we put on a workshop that pulled together all the advice and insights into the job application process we had presented on. Those in attendance had to put together cover letters from example job-ads, with our consultants also on hand to offer CV advice.

We had a really good time at Google UK and we hope those who attended our session did too! We really hope to see you as you progress throughout your media careers and who knows, our paths may cross again down the line!

Many thanks to The Media Trust, The Mayor’s fund and The Berkeley Foundation for everything they do to provide opportunities for young creatives to break into the industry, and for allowing us to play a small part in their inspirational training scheme.

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 23rd May 2018

Searchlight attended the last ever Royal Television Society event to be hosted at the ITV studios, AI in Broadcasting: Added Insights and Creative Help. It was a fascinating event which explored the ways in which Artificial Intelligence could positively effect the media industries, the limitations of it and when and how it’s going to be introduced to the creative environments. Chaired by Andrew McIntosh, the Head of Television Analysis at Enders Analysis, the night consisted of micro-presentations and a Q&A panel session to round off discussions.

Ian Whitfield, the founder of Virtual AI,  kicked off proceedings with a presentation that introduced AI to the audience. He began by explaining that AI is simply the action of teaching a robot to do what humans do and that is the way it should always be - one of the main topics that flowed throughout the evening. He also summarised by explaining how the prices of AI are beginning to drop considerably in this ultra-technological age, compared to the mind-blowing costs during the 60s and 70s.

Doug Clark, Global Solution Leader of Cloud and cognitive, stepped up next and discussed the innovations that IBM are working on. Watson Video enrichment was one of these which allows a robot to translate verbal on-screen material into subtitles, cutting out time and labour. He closed by saying that Vodafone users who speak to someone on their app, are actually speaking to a robot, showing how far AI has come in terms of the humanisation of its output.

Cassian Harrison, the Channel Editor for BBC Four, and George Wright, the Head of Internet Research and Future Services concluded the presentations with an insight to how the BBC are starting to use AI. Harrison wanted to analysis the shift in trends within The UK Top 40 over the last 50 years. This subsequently showed that guitar lead songs transformed into electro, then onto disco and finally into hip-hop, annoying quite a lot of punk-enthusiasts in the process.  Wright concluded that AI should always be controlled by humans, stating quite hilariously that “if your AI isn’t controlled by a human, you’re in trouble!”

The evening was rounded off by an excellent panel session, which explained that AI is a brilliant way to save time, labour and could possibly even improve the experience for the consumer, beyond what a human could do. All of the participants of the evening concluded that AI should exist to allow humans to focus on what they can do best, performing tasks that humans can do but robots can’t.

Thanks to the RTS for orchestrating an amazing evening, to ITV for hosting us for the very last time and to the guest speakers who gave us a deep and entertaining insight into the weird and wonderful world of AI.

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 8th May 2018

Media and sport go hand in hand, exposing brands and organisations to the masses through live coverage, video games and programming. We’re going to have a look at some of the numbers that are involved in sport, how video games are becoming a sport themselves and the competitive nature of the sports media landscape.

On Saturday, Tony Bellew fought David Haye in a rematch of last year’s ‘grudge match.’ It is reported that over 600,000 pay-per-view licenses were bought for the match, contributing £7 million to the prize pot. Tickets for the event culminated to another £2.5 million which let to Bellew getting paid £2.8 million for the fight, with his defeated opponent getting paid £4.2 million. Foreign television rights also pumped money into the occasion, showing how the pinnacle of sport can be exploited to make a lot of money through pay-per-view streaming rights being sold to the highest bidder.

Football coverage is priced even higher, with Sky securing the most lucrative Premier League rights packages for £3.56 billion over a three year period, with amazon in the running for at least one of the remaining royalties. This decision to put pen to paper over these deals is a another step by Rupert Murdoch to make Sky more attractive to buyers from Disney, all but eliminating BT from the live sports coverage market. 

There’s also been a huge power shift in the digital coverage of international cricket, after talkSPORT have announced that they won the rights to England’s tours of Sri Lanka and the West Indies. Wireless Group CEO Scott Taunton said: "Winning these prestigious rights is a great victory for talkSPORT and its first-class coverage. England's overseas tours are sure to lure large audiences of fans as we cement talkSPORT's position as the fans' favourite for sporting news, analysis and live coverage. It’s a huge move by the commercial broadcaster, who have pried the rights away from the BBC after 13 years of exclusivity. 

Sports continue to grow in the video game market too, offering a different medium in which sport can be enjoyed. It’s a World Cup year and FIFA are offering a free download of their World Cup mode. It will have all 12 World Cup stadiums in Russia, all the World Cup teams and you can play with nations that failed to qualify, like the United States, Italy, the Netherlands and Chile. 

Video games themselves are also becoming live events themselves, with more and more people attending live gaming tournaments and watching online streaming  channels. A three-day professional video game tournament in Australia has just finished, with over 18,000 spectators fitting into arena to watch players compete for cash prizes.

Sport, like many other things in the media landscape, continues to adapt and transform to remain current in the ever-changing environment. It’s popularity is evidently on the rise and the various ways in which we can extract the excitement and competitive nature of sport means that it’s here to stay, even if it’s not as first-hand as it used to be.

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 30th April 2018

There’s been a constant debate regarding the creative industries in the UK, how much funding they require and how they should adapt. We’re going to have a look at the future of the creative industries, how they inspire future creatives and the impact they have on society.  

 In terms of economics, The Scotsman has highlighted Brexit as a major player in what happens to the creative industries. They mention that ‘touring and live events will be at risk because of the potential loss of technical talent from the EU, and is worth £127 billion to the UK every year.’ Brexit, by definition, will undoubtedly impact the way we interact with Europe and it still remains to be seen how much of a dent it will make in the funds made available to the creative industries. But the effect that it will have on tourism and the live events industry is huge, as ‘its growth is on a par with the digital sector we hear so much about.’

 In light of the news that more than £150 million will be invested to boost cultural and creative businesses across Britain, The Telegraph has reported there’s been a wave of positivity spreading across the creative landscape, with the discovery that there was a huge amount of positive tweets that ‘specifically welcomed the £33m for immersive technologies such as virtual and augmented reality.’

 The above funding and positivity towards the industries will help usher in the next generation of creatives. VICE UK and their new ‘Film School’ initiative is a great example of a scheme that looks to provide a creative platform to build careers off of. They have partnered with Panasonic Lumix to create, as Little White Lies reports, ‘a stand-alone digital platform and resource hub, providing advice, behind-the-scenes insight, and how-to tips for every stage of the filmmaking process.’

 This trust and backing of new creatives will ultimately bring through revolutionary ideas that could improve certain aspects of society. The News has reported on a new project by The University of Portsmouth that ‘brings together virtual reality, motion capture and audience participation, is helping to provide a greater understanding of dementia.’ They launched the project at the Creative XR Showcase, in London, where it was shown to industry partners, commissioners, investors and members of the public, which consequently earned them funding to build a prototype!

 There seems to be a domino effect within the creative industries and it stems from the economic backing from the government. Hopefully this will be a widely discussed subject in the upcoming local elections, as the creative industries continue to justify why they’re so important.

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 27th April 2018

Should classic TV shows, movies and games be remade? It’s an age old discussion that splits fans in half - those purist fans who want leave something alone  and those fans that want to see more from one of their favourites. Each side has a valid argument but both sides seem to get ignored if there’s enough money to be made. We’re going to look at reboots from across the spectrum and determine whether reboots are good, bad or just downright ugly.

There’s been a lot of reboots on TV recently, each with varying success. Time Commanders came back for a brief stint at the end of 2016, hosted by Greg Wallace (which sounds like an obscure Alan Partridge idea for a show). Robot Wars has come and gone again with mixed reviews and World of Sport Wrestling’s return has just been announced after a 30 year hiatus. Generally though, there seems to be a more nostalgic feel to televisual reboots that eliminates an element of risk, when compared to  a filmic one.

Saying that, there have been plenty of film remakes that have been met with plaudits. Casino Royale, way back in 2006, is deemed to be one of the great recent remakes and is still considered one of the best James Bond films. Spiderman has been remade more times than we care to remember, but they’ve all had huge successes at the box office. Both Spiderman and Casino Royale have malleable lead characters that seem to enable their remakes to exist as stand alone films rather than exact replicas.

Westworld is an interesting case though, as it was originally a film which has been remade as a television series. It seems to have worked, as it’s hugely anticipated second season has just started and has sparked a hugely positive reaction. It could also act as metaphor for the new SVOD trend, that has stolen the limelight and audiences from movies – which could also show why the television version of a film has gone down so well with contemporary audiences.

There’s been some good and a lot of dross - what’s your worst and favourite remake?

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 13th April 2018

MIPTV is the place to be if you’re in the buying, selling, financing and distributing entertainment content market. It takes place in the (usually) sunny Cannes and over the last few days there were some huge announcements and ground-breaking deals made – here are our highlights from this year’s event.

The head of content strategy and planning at Facebook kicked off the week with a digitally charged talk about technology in the entertainment sphere, and the restrictions that surround it in a saturated marketplace. Matthew Henick stated that, “the issue with these golden ages is innovation becomes harder; it reduces creative risk-taking.” With 70% of the consumption of Netflix occurring on a television maybe it’s going to be the quality of content that’s going to make companies stand-out rather than their innovative ways of delivering it?

Robert Rodriguez also rocked up at Cannes to talk about his latest project, The Limit. The Machete, Sin City and From Dusk ‘Til Dawn director is returning with a live-action, short form virtual-reality series. It will premiere  on Surreal, a VR app being launched after for VR headsets later this year in an attempt to attract a younger, millennial audience through their smartphones.

The scripted web-series, Carmilla, won this year’s MIPTV 2018 Brand Content of the Year award.It follows the life of a vlogging student whose roommate goes missing, and is replaced by the mysterious Carmilla. The series has taken the digital world by storm, with over 71m views on YouTube and being  viewed in over 190 countries.

Finally, there was also an insightful talk on the influx of more substantial female characters in scripted drama. The overriding consensus was that it was the rise of women in show running, direction and production that was the main antagonist for the change if roles in television series’, best witnessed in shows like Homeland  and Black Mirror.

We hope everyone had a great time out there, even if it was raining for most of it!

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 15th March 2018

A lot has been said about the changing nature of contemporary workplaces. What with the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns coming to the forefront in the last year or so, equality and diversity remains a much-talked about topic.

We pride ourselves on being a diverse and equal company, and our HR Forum next week (in conjunction with Lumina Search) will explore the media landscape, gender equality, the future of the workplace and many more topics. In preparation, we’re going to explore the state of play within workplaces and what companies are doing (or could be doing) to improve the situation.

The places in which we work are always changing. Changing in ways to make our lives easier, more cost effective and in some cases, a bit more trendy. CMS Wire have predicted that “by 2020, 50 percent of the workforce will be comprised of millennials who’ve aged with the evolution of technology.” This digital workspace will build upon the recent influx of remote workers and will adapt through AI, VR and bots that will potentially improve our every-day lives.

In a recent article by The Guardian, Arielle Bernstein states that in TV, it should be “about the insistence that women should get credit for the very real work they do, and acknowledging that women shouldn’t be viewed as “tokens” when they are the best and the brightest.” This very poignant opinion is reflected in advancements that can be seen within the music industry.  Spotify have produced a tool that shows the gender breakdown of a user’s music choices and several big-name music festivals/events have pledged to a 50/50 gender split of their line-ups by 2022. Things are beginning to change, but it’s the speed and nature of change which continues to fuel discussion.

Evidently, there are efforts to bring about a more equal workplace, but the damning news regarding Clare Foy’s pay in The Crown delivers a major dent in recent efforts.It’s emerged that she is earning less than her regal counterpart, Matt Smith. This raises the questions about how much change can realistically occur in the near future if a female actress, who is playing the most famous and iconic figure in the world, is getting paid less than their on-screen husband. Today’s news does show some promise in the future though, with the revelation that the production company, Endemol Shine, have no gender pay gap within their UK operations. Although this shows some progression, it also shines a damming light on those companies where pay gaps still exist.

It’s becoming more evident that there have been improvements to narrow the divide between gender pay and working conditions in certain sectors of the media industries, and not so much in others. We hope that our HR Forum will spark even more discussion on the debate, even if it’s still incomprehensible that we still finding ourselves talking about the divides that still exist in our workplaces.

#HRforum2018

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 6th March 2018

Last night, we were lucky enough to attend an amazing panel session headed by some of the creatives behind the critically acclaimed Netflix series, The Crown.

It was hosted by RTS Futures at The London Transport Museum, with the following giving the audience an amazing insight into how the show was created, from storyboard to screen:

Director – Ben Caron

Production Designer – Martin Childs

Costume Designer – Jane Petrie

Editor – Pia Di Ciaula

VFX Supervisor – Ben Turner

SCRIPT

There was a running theme across all in attendance when they were asked about the early stages of development. They all agreed that they read the script from the position of a fan to establish the immediate excitement that comes from the programme. Di Caula revealed that, much like a lot of Netflix viewers,  she binge reads the entire series over one weekend. After reading the script for the first time, it then comes to putting the script into action, with Caron stating it’s like “breaking something down like German engineering,” establishing where the budget is going to be spread and establishing the truth of the story in the script.  

PRODUCTION

As you can imagine, there is a gargantuan amount of production that goes into something as high-budget as a Netflix series, with each episode costing over £7 million to make. Childs confirmed that there were 398 different locations throughout the first season and in one 20 second clip that was aired to the audience it was established that there were 7 different locations involved, ranging from a cliff’s edge in South Africa to the Thames. Later on in the evening we see a scene which involves a photo-shoot with Princess Margaret, with Caron revealing that it was shot in the same room as the first season of Dragon’s Den.

HISTORY

Being a historical programme, the history had to be refreshed to make it more appealing. The fact that the programme is chronological in nature suggests that the developments in technology, themes and fashion needed to be transformed by degrees. For example, in the second season, the royal wedding in 1947 was an austere affair, so this needed to be shown in the series without damaging the lavish feel of the entire show. All of the panel members watched copious amounts of films about the same era, helping them leave additional fragments of history to give the progression of time more substance.

CHALLENGES

Every member of the panel were apprehensively excited about the show. Turner realises the enormity of a VFX project at the script-reading stage, case and point when he read the script for The Crown and though, “there are bombers in this scene, that’s probably me.” The same can be said about the extensive costume design that Petrie had to manage, with additional clothing and accessories being required at all times to adapt to changes in fashion. The main challenge though seems to come through the conflict between truth and drama. They all agreed that the series didn’t set out to be a documentary, but the extensive team of researchers and designers helped create a historical backbone which allowed the writer, Peter Morgan, to explore the relationships of the characters a lot more intensely.

Many thanks to the panel members and The Royal Television Society for hosting – if you haven’t watched The Crown yet, make sure you do.

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 21st February 2018

It’s the Brit Awards tonight and it’s set to be a scorcher. Stormzy, Foo Fighters and Justin Timberlake are all set to light up the stage amongst a whole array of contemporary talent. The awards ceremony has been around since 1977 and have been established as one of the most prestigious ceremonies in the music calendar.

The ceremony has thrown up some memorable moments in the past. They reignited the feud between Blur and Oasis in 1996 with the Gallagher brothers covering ‘Parklife’ on stage. They created an unlikely conflict between Sharon Osborne and Vic Reeves in 2007 when he appeared to forget what award he was announcing. And even more recently in 2012, cut off Adele when she was making her acceptance speech.

Here’s a few things we’re looking out for tonight:

  • Dua Lipa – The 22 year old is up for 5 awards! Including Best British Female, Single, Album, Video and Breakthrough Act – all after she becomes the youngest female artist to hit 1 billion views on a music video.
  • Loyle Carner – The South London rapper is up for Best British Male Solo Artist & British Breakthrough Act – a week after he pulls out of Radio One Live Lounge because his covers not being deemed “big enough hits,” despite including songs by Kanye West and The Fugees.
  • The XX – The Wandsworth troop are up for Best British Group. Their incredible album ‘I See You’ has gained plaudits everywhere and led the band selling out 5 gigs in 6 days at The 02 Academy, Brixton.
  • Kendrick Lamar – Labelled one of the greatest of all time, Kendrick is up for Best International Male Artist and it’s easy to see why after his critically acclaimed tour across the UK received rave reviews.  
  • Laura Marling – Nominated for British Female Solo Artist, showing how far she’s come since featuring on Mystery Jets’ indie classic, ‘Young Love.’
  • Arcade Fire – Win Butler, fresh from his NBA all-stars victory, is nominated with Arcade Fire for Best International Group.

We hope you have a cracking time watching it tonight!

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 7th February 2018

The Searchlight team were at the Business Design Centre yesterday for the Royal Television Society’s TV Careers Fair!

The atrium was filled to the brim with buzzing and bright undergrads looking to gain an insight into the media and entertainment industries.

Our consultants delivered invaluable feedback from our stall and within the designated CV Clinic, with some of television’s major players offering advice on how to break into the industry.

We all really enjoyed being there and meeting hundreds of budding creatives looking to further their careers in an industry that continues to thrive.

Thanks to the RTS for having us, we had a blast!

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 27th January 2018

Yes, there is actually a connection between Disney, Pompey and The Grammys and it’s as not as loose as you’d expect. We’re going to take a look at life after Disney for Michael Eisner, how the brand of Portsmouth FC will be revolutionised under the new American regime, and how his son is on his way to this year’s Grammys ceremony.

Michael Eisner has made a career of heading up some of the largest American television and film corporations, ranging from ABC to Paramount to Disney. Eisner was at the head of Paramount when they produced greats such as Saturday Night Fever, Raiders of The Lost Ark and Beverley Hills Cop. He now finds himself as the director of Pompey, a third-tier South coast club, after buying it for £5.67 million in 2017.

With over 20 years at the helm of Disney and his background in sports scheduling and sports content makes the relationship even more compatible. Eisner’s primary focus will be expanding the Pompey brand. An example of this can be seen through the initial discussions regarding the club’s badge and how it can be adapted for copyright purposes.

Michael’s son, Eric, is also a director at Pompey but he’s also the founder and CEO of Double E Pictures. He, with a hand from a little-known director called Martin Scorsese have produced a music documentary that made it to the penultimate cut for the Oscars and is in the running at this year’s Grammys. The documentary focuses on the American Band, Grateful Dead, and it’s nearly 4 hours long.

Eric and his team will be joining a whole host of musical greats at Maddison Garden tomorrow. He’s up against a documentary about Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds and will be surrounding himself with a whole host of first-time nominees including, SZA, Odesza and Kevin Hart.

We’re looking forward to seeing how Eric gets on at The Grammys on January 28th and as always, play up Pompey.

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 24th January 2018

Just in case you missed them, here’s some of the highlights from this year’s nominations.  Lots of “firsts” happened this year, including The Boss Baby becoming an Oscar nominated film which is something we thought we’d never see…

Greta Gerwig, the director of the much acclaimed Lady Bird, became only the 5th woman to be nominated for Best Director. And only one of those nominations has ever come to fruition, with Kathryn Bigelow leaving the 2010 ceremony with the prestigious award for The Hurt Locker.

Mary J. Blige also delivered another Academy Award first, becoming the first woman to be nominated for Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Song in the same year.

Get Out (one of our film’s of 2017) and it’s director, Jordan Peele, are in for a tense evening on March 4th. Peele has been nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay making him the first African-American to do so on their directorial debut.

Unbelievably, Christopher Nolan was nominated for the first time ever for Dunkirk. The Inception, Dark Knight, Interstellar and Memento man will be hoping that this will be his year after such a long wait. 

Christopher Plummer became the oldest actor nominee ever. After replacing Kevin Spacey in All the Money in the World, Plummer has picked up a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. This is only the third nomination the 88 year old has received, with his last coming in 2012 when he won Best Supporting Actor for his role in Beginners.  

We’re so looking forward to see what happens a the ceremony on March 4th. Before that though, it’s The Grammys on Sunday…

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 10th January 2018

So it was the much-talked about Golden Globes awards ceremony on Sunday. Seth Myers hosted but Oprah, the #TimesUp and #MeToo campaigns and the controversies surrounding James Franco all remain strong talking points from the night. Here’s our round-up of some of the things you may have missed.

The coveted Best Film category was picked up by Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri. Frances McDormand’s electric offering is reminiscent of her performance in Fargo, just a bit grittier. It landed the Best Actress award on the night. With 6 nominations and 4 wins, Three Billboards was always going to be a frontrunner at the awards and it didn’t disappoint.

Gary Oldman continued along his accolade fuelled journey to The Oscars by picking up the award for Best Actor on Sunday. His portrayal of Winston Churchill in The Darkest Hour has lead to pretty much everyone to tipping him for the Academy Award come March. Unbelievably, this award was his first ever Golden Globe nomination and win, lets hope he can go one further again this year.

The Handmaid’s Tale also continued it’s tremendous run at award ceremonies. The dystopian masterpiece claimed the renowned Best TV Series (Drama) for it’s warped (or not so warped) outlook of the future of The United States. Elisabeth Moss’ incredible, all-conquering rise to stardom shows no signs of letting up either. She won Best Actress in a Drama Television Series, dedicating it to all of her female co-stars, proving to be a highlight during a night of incredibly moving speeches and testimonials.

There was also another first on the evening, with Aziz Ansari picking up the Best Actor in a TV Series for his role in Master of None, a comedy series that he created himself.  He has been a bit-part actor in several contemporary comedies but he’s found himself a niche comedic area and has been catapulted into notoriety.

That concludes our round up of this year’s Golden Globes’ results. Next up, The BAFTAS in February then onto The Oscars in March!

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 3rd January 2018

It is becoming more apparent that content that can be morphed and delivered across multiple platforms is the key to remaining current. This week’s blog entry is going to take a glance at the effectiveness of telling a continuous story over multiple platforms by looking at how the ever-changing character of Alan Partridge is still as popular as ever.

Transmedia storytelling in its purist form can be seen through the techniques of Walt Disney, creating and exploiting capitalism to expose brands through films and merchandising. Storytelling needs to utilise a human element for it to evoke the right emotions to create a connection. The human aspect of the portrayal of many Disney characters helps establish an emotive relationship, much like the ultra-realistic portrayal of the North-Norfolk Radio Disc Jockey, Alan Partridge.

The key to Alan Partridge’s success over the last 25 years is the fact that his characterisation is so deep that he can be moulded to suit the societal climate he finds himself in. His creators have been able to morph Alan and his career path to continue his story across audiobooks, radio and television shows, films, documentaries and mockumentaries. This makes his story completely immersive as they place Alan in various everyday environments. He has hosted and appeared on genuine talk shows and attended book signings and film premieres, further blurring the line between reality and fiction.

Although Alan’s narrative is a continuous one, the divide between platforms allows followers to dip in and out of his story at their own pleasure. Those who enjoy reading can delve into his autobiographies, or those that enjoy sitcom-length comedic episodes can enjoy an episode of his radio show, Mid-morning Matters. This not only broadens the viewership of the content but it also remains attractive to people of all ages as it’s an established character exploring the contemporary world. The fluidity of the narrative has also allowed the character’s story to be shown on various broadcasters. Sky and BBC are the most prominent collaborators, both complimenting the direction his creators want to take him in – explaining why he still remains such a British comedy icon and continues to achieve huge audiences.  

  >>


Written by Jack Hopkins on 11th December 2017

On Thursday we hosted our annual client Christmas drinks at The BFI, Stephen Street!

We thought we’d introduce the festive season in style, before calendars and bellies get too full.   

The charming venue set the scene, with everyone drinking, eating and being merry with copious amounts of bubbly and moreish canapés.

Thanks for everyone who came along - if we happened to miss you we look forward to seeing you soon!

  >>


Written by Daniel Kirby on 13th October 2015


Whether you are looking for a new job or simply want to network within your industry, LinkedIn will always have a role to play. And even if you are happy with your current employer, having an online professional presence can help or hinder your career.

Instant Offices’ Head of HR, Helen Taylor, explains how recruiters look at an applicant’s Linkedin profile to help shortlist candidates. This will help when searching for your next big break.

What do Recruiters Look for in a Profile?

  As a professional network, LinkedIn is extremely important for showcasing an employee’s strengths and is a great help in looking for a new challenge.

When hiring, recruiters look at an applicant’s LinkedIn for several reasons:

  1. To see who has recommended or endorsed an applicant; this is a good way to see who they associate with and where their strengths lie.
  1. Confirming any grey areas in work history. Make sure that your profile echoes your CV as recruiters will check dates and the length of time with employers.

 Helen says,“If I am unsure of anything on their CV, for instance the length of time they have worked within a particular company. If questions still need answering but overall the candidate is strong, I will still offer them an interview but will ask them in person to clarify the discrepancy.”

 LinkedIn matters outside of Job Hunting

LinkedIn offers great possibilities for networking even when you not looking for a new role.  A relevant and interesting profile can help attract potential clients too.

  1. By sharing blog posts and other content about your current workplace, you can increase their engagement and potentially create new business opportunities. 

Don’t worry – a negative comment on LinkedIn won’t derail your networking opportunities. A single comment should not affect how people view your working style.

Helen says,If a member of LinkedIn community has written  a negative comment on a person, maybe saying something like ‘they are not much of a team player’, it is important to remember that it is just one person’s opinion and does not define their potential.  

It is common that professionals use Linkedin in order to attract a new job and they do not update their profile with their new workplace. You must always keep your LinkedIn up to date. Potential clients may look at your page and you are representing not only yourself but your current work place.”

LinkedIn has so many benefits to apply to your working life. By maintaining your profile regularly, you will create new connections in your chosen field and maximise chances of being chosen for that dream job.

---

This article was kindly provided to us by our friends at Instant Offices:

http://www.instantoffices.com/en/gb/serviced-office-space/mayfair 

  >>


Written by James Cheetham on 23rd September 2015

This infographic came courtesy of our friends at Instant Offices:

http://www.instantoffices.com/en/gb/serviced-office-space/mayfair

  >>


Written by James Cheetham on 17th September 2015

                                                            

Another day, another report on how productions across the UK continue to boom, which is never a bad thing.

Tax incentives brought in over the past few years have increased productions across the UK, with blockbuster franchises such as The Avengers and Star Wars filming on English soil, Ireland setting the scene for Game of Throne’s Westoros and Wales playing long term host to globally popular programmes such as Doctor Who  & Da Vinci’s Demons.

With England, Wales and Ireland reaping in the economic benefits, more attention has turned to Scotland.

A new £1.75million Production Growth Fund was announced at the start of September by Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop with a view to get more international filming crews over to Scotland.

Ms Hyslop said, "the Scottish Government and its agencies are firmly committed to supporting screen-sector growth and promoting Scotland as a premier and competitive location to produce great films and TV shows.

She went onto say, "the Production Growth Fund I am announcing will help to attract new inward investment, further support home-grown productions and will boost Scotland's economy as well as our international reputation."

Of course this'll mean increased work for production staff based in Scotland and generate further economic benefits. The Production Growth Fund will run over two years and is one of many new measures in Scotland to bolster the creative industries, running alongside the £2million Tax Credit Advance Facility and the £1million Screen Skills Fund, both announced earlier this year.

Fiona Hyslop also went onto announce that last year saw a record spend of £45.2million on Scottish location shooting with recent productions including the Oscar baiting adaptation of Macbeth starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotilliard, blockbuster Starz TV programme Outlander and the Robert Carlisle starring The Legend of Barney Thomson.

  >>


Written by James Cheetham on 15th July 2015

                                                          

After a week’s worth of secret meetings and the hashing out of negotiations, last week the Tories revealed in their budget  that the BBC will now be covering the TV license fees for those over the age of 75.

Shouldering this fee inevitably lands the Beeb with a financial impact, with it being approximated at £250million by the time we get around to 2019.

To battle this, the government has agreed to allow the BBC to increase the usual £145.50 license fee in line with inflation and to also begin to modernise the license fee by incorporating catch-up TV services…it looks like EastEnders catch ups on the iPlayer may not be a free commodity for long…

It is of course good news to hear over 75s will not have to fork out for their TV license but another possible side effect will see the BBC having to make other major changes, with channels and radio stations under threat at the financial cuts.

The BBC Trust has already said this will have “some impact on the nature of the BBC’s services” and Director General of the BBC has been quoted as saying “I’m not saying there won’t be hard choices, there will be” in relation to the possibility of axing channels.

The week prior, the BBC announced 1000 job cuts due to the £150 million fall in funding as the number of people not paying their license fee continue to increase.

While these changes will begin to roll out over the next few years, they have agreed that the BBC will have full responsibility of the over-75s policy by 2020…so who knows…we could be in for another rehash in another 5 years…

  >>


Written by James Cheetham on 27th May 2015

                                                      RTS Legends Lunch Jeremy Paxman

As May comes to a close and we all get to grips with the election results, Jeremy Paxman, far from the shy and retiring type, made his thoughts perfectly clear at The Royal Television Society’s Legends Lunch on the 19th May, which we were lucky enough to attend.

Paxman was joined by Alastair Stewart with the two discussing Did Television Come To The Aid of the Party? Media Show presenter Steve Hewlett had the lucky job of trying his best to placate the two as they often bumped heads, in what was an incredibly interesting debate.

Paxman jumped in claiming opinion polls “were for idiots” while Stewart said the opinion polls still made a difference with "the truth of the matter was that there was no other narrative in town so we fell foul of what turned out to be a wrong narrative.”

Paxman pointed out that such a heavy focus was put upon opinion polls by networks due to 2015’s election being “monumentally dull,” going onto say that "there was not really a great narrative, even about the narrative of the economy." Something that Stewart vehemently disagreed with.

Paxman also called out the TV debates, saying they had no impact and simply confirmed prejudices "I think the broadcasters behaved ludicrously about the debates."

And when quizzed about the license fee which they initially tried to skit around, Paxman eventually said that he doesn’t think the current BBC license fee model can last much longer and is becoming harder to justify. Get those Netflix subscriptions at the ready…

  >>


Written by James Cheetham on 14th May 2015

                                                                   

Heart eating royals, rebellious teenagers, punk rockers VS Nazis and stop motion Princes - this is what you should be looking out for from Cannes.

Unfortunately us mere mortals cannot be at Cannes in person, but we can still keep our eyes peeled for some of cinema's next big hits, so we've put together some of the films we're most excited about from Cannes so you can get that Must Watch list together easier

Solidly opening the 68th Cannes was Emmanuelle Bercot's La Tete Haute, the first female directed film to open the Film Festival since Diane Kurys' A Man in Love in 1987. La Tete Haute returned Cannes to its French roots with Catherine Deneuve in a supporting role to newcomer Rod Paradot, playing the lead role of a turbulent teenager trying to overcome his violent and crime ridden past.  

                                                   

Cannes veterans such as Woody Allen and Gus Van Sant are back this year, Allen working with Emma Stone once again on Irrational Man and Gus Van Sant jumping on the Matthew McConaughey band wagon with The Sea of Trees. 

On the animation front, Pixar are screening their latest offering with Inside Out, their first original release since 2012’s Brave and it promises the usual originality and heart felt messages of their previous madcap creations. Also hotly tipped is The Little Prince, which combines beautifully realised stop motion & computer generated animation with a star studded voice over cast.

Already being called a Cannes stand-out (and swiftly added to Searchlight’s must watch list) is Matteo Garrone’sTale of Tales, with a superb cast including Salma Hayek, Toby Jones and Vincent Cassel, the Renaissance fairy tale film boasts some of the festivals most eye catching and gorgeous visuals. I mean...just look...

                                     

The Oscar tipped performances are abound with Cate Blanchett’s lesbian love story Carol and Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard starring in the latest Macbeth adaptation.

 Not forgetting the oddball additions to the film line up such as The Lobster, Love and Green Room, all three films straying from your standard cinema fare. The Lobster tells of a world where people turn into animals and are released into the woods if they don’t find true love in 45 days, Love a sexually charged drama which is making a name for itself on its film poster campaign alone and Green Room which follows a punk rock band fighting for survival against a group of skinhead Nazis.

And that’s just skimming the surface, suffice to say, there should be something for everyone…put us down for The Little Prince and Tale of Tales please.

  >>


FIND US ELSEWHERE

;