In conversation with Bella Lambourne, Banijay UK

21 February, 2022

Screen and Film School Manchester were thrilled to host a live Masterclass with Bella Lambourne last month. Bella is an Industry specialist, and we are extremely fortunate that her company Banijay UK are an Industry Partner to Screen and Film School Manchester.

Bella discussed current trends, shared insider tips, and even went on to mention a very recent exciting link between the Film School and none other than Janet Jackson. All of this happened live over Zoom, to current first year students who were keen to soak up Bella’s wisdom.

Read on to learn more about Banijay UK and their association with the famous Jackson sister, but for now here is some invaluable advice from Bella and a quick Q&A between herself and our students too.

On the topic of how the current landscape looks for Television production…

“Our world is vibrant and economically dynamic at the moment, and the sector as a whole is one of the country’s biggest employers. There are skills shortages and that will result in a lot of openings out there for people who want to work in the industry. It is also not just London-based, which is a common misconception. There are huge hubs elsewhere, particularly in Manchester. We have several boutique companies which are active in Manchester at this very moment.”

On the subject of freelancing…

“As an industry, it is freelance-heavy. Productions involve lots of people coming together and then leaving each other again but because there is so much work out there at the moment, this doesn’t have to be a frightening thing. It just means you need to be savvy about your network. You need to understand practical things like tax returns. You need to be ready for that independent way of negotiating your career path. The best way to learn how to do this is to study at Screen and Film School.”

On what you can be doing every single day to better your chances of entering the industry…

“TV productions are made by lots of other companies other than the BBC, for example. Always make sure you watch until the end credits to see which production companies are actually making what shows. Look at the different job roles at the end of each production. Over time you will get a taste of which companies are making the types of television you enjoy or want to be involved in.”

Top tips for research and experience as you progress through the Film School…

“There are a lot of things you can start to do now, just as your journey has started. Think about your CV already, do research, watch credits, watch TV, try to understand why you liked a specific show and a specific production company, even if you’re watching streaming platforms. Do a skills audit for yourself – what are you great at? You will already have transferable skills for our industry, you just haven’t realised it yet. Make your own content too, network with everyone you can. Be pragmatic too when thinking about work experience, entry level roles often lead to the place you want to get to.”

On the topic of apprenticeships and internships at Banijay UK…

“I know that we are doing at least 10 apprenticeships on the Production Management side of things, because there has been such a skills shortage in that area. The place to find out about these opportunities is at Screenskills. We’ve been running an intern scheme for 15 years now and some of the earliest interns are actually running their own production companies today. It really specialises in the creation of ideas – specifically formats – such as quiz shows. Pointless, Deal or No Deal and Coach Trip came out of that, for example. We want the legacy of Banijay to be creating a unique idea and selling it around the world.”

Following on from Bella’s informative tips and insider insights, two of our undergraduates had the chance to ask her a question. Sean Ramsden wanted to know what was the biggest change to the TV industry that Bella had witnessed since starting out over two decades ago:

The multiplicity of platforms. When I first started, we had 5 potential clients, or possibly 4, I can’t remember that far back! Now there are many, many more with the advent of the streamers. So, the diversification of the client base is the biggest change.

Rebecca Power asked: What is the best way to gain experience in the industry during a gap year?

You can approach production companies to ask them if they offer any short work experience opportunities. I would hope that most companies would now pay for those too. If you had a whole year to look for work, I would try to get an entry level job in a relevant company. We have had people do exactly that with us and they have climbed the ladder here and made a success of themselves.

That was the end of what proved to be a highly informative Masterclass for our students from somebody at the very top of Banijay UK.

In the UK, Banijay stands as the largest independent content producer and distributor; home to over 120 production companies across 22 territories, and a multi-genre catalogue boasting over 120,000 hours of original standout programming. They represent some of the biggest global brands including Survivor, Big Brother, Starstruck, Peaky Blinders, MasterChef, SAS: Rogue Heroes, Mr Bean, Hunted, Black Mirror and Drag Me Out, among others.

What of the link between Screen and Film School Manchester and Janet Jackson? It was hugely exciting for us to discover that our prestigious Industry Partners Workerbee (a Banijay UK company) were co-producers of Janet, a four-hour documentary series, which celebrates the 40th anniversary of Janet Jackson’s first album.

With full unprecedented access to Jackson, the series will be an “intimate, honest and unfiltered look at her untold story.” Workerbee have been filming the documentary for three years and have been granted exclusive access to archival footage and Janet’s never before seen home videos, along with star-studded interviews. Janet will air in 2022 and has been years in the making for our top-notch Industry Partners.

Be sure to watch that brilliant production when you can, and also keep a look out for future Masterclass guests at Screen and Film School Manchester, our Industry Team try to deliver the very best for our students and they don’t come much better than Bella. Thanks to Bella for joining us and for letting our young filmmakers know that they really can aim for the stars…



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