Dee Chilton was a delegate on our very first Talent Campus four years ago. As the deadline for Talent Campus 6.0 submissions fast approaches, I asked her to share her views now we are a few years down the line…
You can read more about Talent Campus and apply for your spot HERE.
NOTE: ScreenSkills have also confirmed that UK residents can apply for a £300 bursary should they be selected.
Over to Dee…
Since I was fortunate enough to be selected to take part in the inaugural LSF Talent Campus initiative in 2015, during each subsequent TC application window I’ve regularly been asked these two questions in some form or other:
- Before applying: Is Talent Campus worth applying for?
- After being selected: Is Talent Campus worth the cost involved?
The fact I’m asked so often shows me that these questions speak to exactly the same considerations and concerns I had myself before applying/accepting my place.
My answers are always the same, so I though it might help other writers/applicants if I share my thoughts* in advance. Not to avoid me answering individually (which I’ve never minded doing) but to show that this is pretty much how everyone feels and exactly what TC aims to target; that evil little voice inside us that keeps asking. “Am I good enough?”
This encapsulates what most writers seem to worry most about:
- I’ve read lots of good things about Talent Campus. It sounds as if it will offer so much in the way of mentoring, networking and practical advice and encouragement but the expense involved has made me question whether to go for it or not. Besides, I doubt I’d get a place anyway so I’m not sure whether to even bother applying.
- Before I apply/sign on the dotted line, I wonder if it’s really any good? Is it just a ‘vanity’ project? Are there tangible outcomes in terms of sales, productions, agents etc? What’s the most you come out with? Is it worth the money?
Let’s break that down a bit:
Should I apply?
- Why say ‘no’ to yourself before even applying or knowing if you’ve been offered a place? Why not apply and make a decision based on facts, not your own fears (of rejection/failure/judgement)? Decide once you know the outcome of your application.
- My TC was awesome, a real game changer, more on a personal level as opposed to actual ‘magic bullet’ outcome. We have to make our own results! I can’t say what it will give you as we all have different expectations, perspectives and priorities, but I don’t ever regret doing it and it was worth every penny.
Is it any good/What does it deliver?
- I was privy to TC2 as well as TC1 as I volunteered to help out the second one and I’m maybe biased, but I witnessed it deliver in spades for other writers twice, and it sure delivered for me, in terms of a massive boost to personal development, confidence and self-belief as well as knowledge.
- I found it an incredible and priceless experience. One that made me stronger mentally and better able to deal with inevitable rejection we all face, and it also gave me a fabulous peer group and lots of insight into a) myself and b) characters in more depth – as well as writing education and industry knowledge.
- Overall, TC makes you feel special and that you have what it takes to succeed (however you define that for yourself). It’s also something to put on the CV and it’s hugely enjoyable and educational.
Will I get a ‘sale’ and/or an agent out of it?
- Could TC ever deliver that directly? You still have to make all that happen. TC is about giving you the tools, insight and confidence to achieve all that for yourself.
- As was said to me early on in my writing career (by the head of iFeatures at a networking event) “Don’t go chasing an Agent. Write great stuff that can’t be ignored and they will find you. Instead, network with Producers and Filmmakers and keep growing as a writer. Find your voice, make stuff, build your unique brand and make connections for the future. Your stuff will get noticed eventually”.
Is it value for money?
- A huge number of writers have boring or un-commercial stories. Many have nothing to say and no voice to say it with. I truly believe strengthening your writer’s voice and confidence as a writer will pay dividends.
- Think of everything like this as investment in yourself. You just need a great portfolio and to build contacts for the future. So the biggest and best investment is self-development, actual writing development and networking skills and confidence.
- I would say TC delivers on this investment if you submit to the process and put your heart and soul into it. Only you can decide on the value of that for you.
Should I accept the place I’ve been offered? (or if I’m offered it).
- Only you can know what’s best for you. If you feel this is a smart move (as I found it was), then do you feel you should invest in yourself?
- Bottom line, having applied for it, been offered a place and now thinking about not doing it, how will you feel if you turn it down?
- Will you think it was nice to get a place and it’s enough to have done that, but you’d rather save the money/time and can do without it, and so can walk away and be happy with that? Or will you regret turning it down and feel envious of those who do sign up for it when you see the photos etc of them doing it?
- If you really don’t feel it will deliver value for money, don’t do it. I don’t say that lightly. Some people may think it’s a bit too ‘cult’ like for them as it’s not just about academic stuff, it’s about developing the right attitude for success.
- I’d say this, it would certainly do you absolutely no harm if you can afford it, both in terms of money and time!
- If your really can’t afford it, you can take heart that you didn’t self censor and you made the selection; maybe you can apply for a later TC. But is there another way? Others have crowd-funded to be able to take part or asked family & friends for monetary gifts towards this instead of birthday or Christmas presents. Some have managed to ‘couch surf ‘ for free or share hotel rooms between three or four etc to reduce costs.
Call Talent Campus a recce for war; pre-positioning for battle and stockpiling ammo ready to go over the top. It gives you the tools and confidence to go out and fight for your dreams, whatever they may be, and the power to keep on telling that evil little voice inside ” I am good enough.” The decision to take part, and the outcome of that, is really up to you.
* I must stress this is all simply my own opinion based on my own experiences. Other TC alumni will inevitably have different opinions, experiences and outcomes.
You can read more about Talent Campus and apply for your spot HERE.
Bio: Dee Chilton has maintained an avid interest in screen stories and a love of word wrangling since childhood. With a background in photography (later teaching it), she helped to write, film and edit live action and animated films. She then drank the queen’s shilling and was press-ganged into the Royal Navy where she enjoyed a career ‘seeing the world differently’. An optioned and represented screenwriter, Dee now writes full time and aims to see more of her words brought to life on screen and in print, in collaboration with filmmakers and publishers.