– Last year’s MIDPOINT Series Launch & Development Executive program participant shares her experience and tells us what advice she would give to young professionals
This article is available in English.
Ukrainian producer Sasha Vyshnevska, currently a development executive at Gingers Media, works across multiple genres, including feature films, scripted drama, factual and animation and is currently developing several projects for the international market. She tells Cineuropa about her experience last year, when she took part in the MIDPOINT Series Launch, which offers not only the project development of long form series, but also focuses on the education of future commissioning editors with the mission to raise a new generation of broadcaster executives and commissioning editors; and in the “development executive / DE” training, which is incorporated into Series Launch and offers the unique opportunity to strengthen and enhance one’s leadership and communication skills and work on the craft of story development.
Cineuropa: How would you describe your experience with MIDPOINT?
Sasha Vyshnevska: The program was a fun ride and now, looking back, I feel sad that it’s over. Imagine doing what you love doing but in a setting that is extremely inclusive and supportive! We were growing in a circle of close friends, a family! It won’t always be the case in real life, in an actual work setting, but since we’ve had this extraordinary experience, we should at least try to recreate this family setting at work. I never tire of repeating that our business is very collaborative; we can only compete so long as we are a team.
Can you say which particular skills you personally gained at Series Launch?
I found the sessions that replicate the writers room extremely interesting and useful. How do you guide a writer or a group of writers through the creative process in a selfless yet focused way? My mentors dedicated a lot of time to teaching us, the DEs, to approach the process with a soft unobtrusive touch. The writers know the answers to all the questions, they tread intuitively and it is our job to bring this intuition to the surface, to turn intuition into guiding principles.
We like to find that balance between craft and emotionality. As my mentor, Tatjana Samopjan, likes to point out, the balance between “fire and algebra” is both challenging and oh-so-exciting. This is the kind of soft skills that are hard to present quantitatively but then again, the development executive’s job has nothing to do with hard data either. My belief is that I’m now better at this – nurturing relationships with peer creators.
Could you name what was most valuable in the training?
The combination of personal, nurturing aspects I spoke about earlier and the business practicalities. While we developed projects in a welcoming and friendly environment, the program also included consultations with producing, financing and legal tutors. As everything in life, creating a series implies both talent and hard work, or “fire and algebra.” And for many participants who are just starting out in the TV business, practical business training is a great way to put the foot in the door. For writer-producer teams, as much, or maybe even especially, for development executives.
To whom would you recommend applying to this program?
To anyone who’s been working in scripted drama and wants to learn from the leading professionals in the business, to anyone who’s considering trying their hand at scripted drama (you don’t write a TV show the same way you’d write a movie – trust me, you need this program!). To everyone who aspires to become a Development Executive, especially from emerging markets: here’s your chance to learn some soft skills and turn them into an appealing hard-selling show.