There is a worldwide audience eager to embrace more international products: Chantal Rickards OBE

There is a worldwide audience eager to embrace more international products: Chantal Rickards OBE

Good storytelling has universal appeal and no boundaries.

Chantal Rickards

Mumbai: Chantal Rickards OBE is a British television and film professional, a native of London, UK and was the CEO of BAFTA Los Angeles – The British Academy of Film and Television - from 2015 to 2019.

In 2015 Chantal was appointed the first Chief Executive Officer of BAFTA Los Angeles. Chantal looked after the members based in the USA and made it her duty at BAFTA to encourage trade between the UK and the US in the creative sectors. While at BAFTA LA she conceived the formation of BAFTA North America and the consolidation of one global BAFTA brand to allow it to grow its international status and worldwide educational work.  Her work was recognized by Her Majesty the Queen in 2020 when she was awarded an OBE for her services to the industry and philanthropy.

Rickards has had a successful career in the British creative and media sector since the 1980s. She’s produced and directed over 1,000 television programmes for the BBC, ITV, Channel Four, Sky and Channel Five since leaving University College, London. She trained at ITV, the largest commercial channel in the UK, rising from a low-level television researcher to a Director and Executive Producer of live and recorded Factual Entertainment programmes including MasterChef, one of the UK’s most prominent food shows which has travelled globally, Through the Keyhole, which ran for 32 years on British television, the French format game show, Countdown, still the longest-running game show on UK television, City Hospital, a live daily show from one of the UK’s largest public hospitals, Parkinson, a leading chat show and This Morning, ITV’s live mid-morning show.

After five years at the BBC, she joined WPP’s GroupM which is the leading global media investment management company, which represented 40% of all global advertising spend.  Through GroupM, Chantal created long and short-form content over a seven-year period that subtly melded popular programming with advertising messaging and propelled brands from the bland to the outstanding. She has vast experience in brand strategy and recently rolled out a property brand in the USA.

She is currently running a stimulating portfolio of roles, Chantal sits on the Board of Directors of The Dot Group, a global student housing business, and is on the Advisory Board of the UK’s National Youth Theatre; she continues to be a voting BAFTA member and raises money for them through events and donations; she also reviews films and television programmes for MRS Radio Station once a week under the moniker the ‘Screen Queen’.  Other recent project work includes creating a new business TV format, developing an 8-part true-life drama series about a prominent American family with a Hollywood producer, consulting on numerous film projects, from funding to development, in both the UK and the USA, and continuing to be the format consultant for Through the Keyhole, one of British TV’s most successful factual entertainment shows ever. Chantal recently supported Ryff, a US-based dynamic product placement company, which has just launched their Spheera platform in the UK. spoke to Chantal Rickards OBE when she was visiting India recently. She spoke in length about her journey, her visit to Whistling Woods and interacting with the students there…

Edited Excerpts:

On your long career as an artist and then heading BAFTA how has the journey been

A career in film and TV has been enormously rewarding. I’ve worked in live and recorded TV, in the UK and internationally, in Daytime and Primetime TV and then my exciting move to Los Angeles and Hollywood to run the British Academy of Film and TV for 5 years. It’s been hard work and a lot of fun.

On Indian films being recognised globally. What is your perspective on the talent here in India

My favourite film in 2022 was RRR, which was recognised with an Oscar. The Elephant Whisperer, a terrific Indian documentary, also received an Oscar and received great international recognition for Indian filmmakers. I am consistently impressed by the work of Indian filmmakers, composers and writers who are making their stories much easier for international audiences to appreciate.

On Whistling Woods International as a leading institution for nurturing creative talent, what more can be done to make this talent recognized globally

The young students I met at Whistling Woods International were keen to learn more about what’s popular around the world. Significantly, most young Indians stay in India and use their talent in their own country, but there are terrific and growing opportunities for young people from Asia in the UK and the USA. Talent is travelling. Good storytelling has universal appeal and no boundaries.

On the other avenues for young students to showcase their talent globally and be recognised

Young people from India need to understand what makes Western audiences tick, over and above Hollywood blockbusters, which resonate globally. It’s all about the story and the universal themes that bind us the world over like love and loss, ambition and power, mystery and magic, hope and desire.

On the session with these young minds

I was very impressed with the level of academic input at Whistling Woods International, most particularly with the interest in VR and immersive technologies. The technology facilities are very impressive and often these young professionals are trialling new products before they even reach the consumer. That’s really impactful.

On WWI improving and innovating their curriculum

I think Whistling Woods International could offer more information about how young Indians could market their content internationally. There is a worldwide audience eager to embrace more international products.

On some of the projects you are working on presently

I am currently working on developing cinema and TV projects with a Hollywood producer, and I am in early development on projects with Red Carpet Moving Pictures in Mumbai. I continue to have an executive position looking after the super successful and long-running UK factual entertainment show about the homes of the famous called Through the Keyhole for which I am eager to find an Indian broadcaster. I also review films and TV each week for a radio network in the UK and I sit in the Advisory Board of the UK’s National Youth Theatre. I also continue to support the BAFTA Student Awards as a Board Member of Yugo, the headline sponsor of the BAFTA Student Awards and leading global student accommodation provider.