Hannah Demidowicz was a WFTV Mentee in 2011 and is currently working as Commissioning Editor at TCB Media Rights.
She took up the role in April 2018 in what was seen to be ‘a first for a factual distribution business’, having previously held commissioning roles with BBC Worldwide and National Geographic. Why did you apply for the WFTV Mentoring Scheme? Back in 2011 I was in a role which was straddling two worlds – scheduling and commissioning. I wanted to make the move into a full time commissioning role and I thought the scheme could provide the support and opportunities to help me achieve that. ‘What I didn’t expect was to feel like such a part of a unit along with the other mentees.’ What were you hoping to get out of the scheme? I was hoping to get paired with a mentor who would help me see the bigger picture and help me make my next steps. I was also hoping to make connections within the industry outside of the company I had been at for a number of years. Lastly I wanted to take advantage of the some of the more practical aspects of the scheme (i.e. the CV workshop). Was it what you expected? Yes it was and more! What I didn’t expect was to feel like such a part of a unit along with the other mentees. It was so interesting learning about what everyone else did and about the different obstacles they faced. Were you at all surprised by the mentor you were paired with? Yes! Danny Cohen was controller of BBC1 at the time so it was really exciting to get a mentor that senior in the industry. How did the relationship with Danny work during the scheme and what do you feel you gained from it? I met with Danny six times over the six months of the scheme. He helped me in two ways: 1. He introduced me to a lot of senior commissioners and producers who I then met up with, it really helped my profile and extended my network. 2. We worked together on some editorial challenges I was facing in my current role, he helped me EP a tricky single doc and to this day the production company have no idea he was involved! How did the WFTV Mentoring Scheme change your career and how did it lead to your present role? The mentoring scheme gave me a real boost in confidence and belief in my own capabilities. By the end of the scheme I had transitioned into a full time Commissioning Executive role at National Geographic Channels International under Hamish Mykura. When he joined I had the confidence to ask to be part of his new team, and it worked! ‘There has likely been a little bit of scepticism in the industry about this role, but that is to be expected with something new and different.’ Can you tell us about your role at TCB Media Rights? My role is very unique! As the first Commissioning Editor at a Factual Distributor my job is constantly evolving as I look to utilise my skills and experience in the most productive way for the company. I do a lot of the usual work of a Comm Ed, so I view cuts of shows in production and review newly submitted ideas. As well as this I will regularly meet with other Commissioners to hear of their needs with a view to developing co-commissioning relationships or discuss projects I have in development. I work with the producers TCB has a relationship with, giving them steers on what the Broadcasters/SVODs are looking for as well as helping them build relationships with channels. Some of our projects have multiple partners involved so a lot of my role is running those co-productions and ensuring the production company have one editorial voice. What would be a ‘typical’ day at the office for you? My days are very varied. I could start by writing up a joint commissioning brief with a channel we’ve begun to work with. Then I may be reviewing new ideas and deciding which ones to progress. Next may be a producer meeting to discuss their slate of new ideas. Then perhaps a call with a channel like Science in the US to discuss the series we’re working together on. Then I might head into Soho for a viewing of an episode of a new series. Throughout the day I will be doing a lot of firefighting. We’re a fast moving business so I’m always very busy but I like it that way! Your role was hailed as an industry first, which must have been both exciting and a little bit daunting – with it being uncharted territory. How have you approached that challenge? There has likely been a little bit of scepticism in the industry about this role, but that is to be expected with something new and different. There’s a hesitation from some producers that my involvement may complicate the production of content already being made on tight budgets. My approach is always to win people over with smart thinking, a calm and measured attitude and creative ways of getting projects over the line. I, like all the producers and other commissioners I know, just want to make great TV so if I can help make that happen then I feel like I’ve done my job. I’ve watched my corner of the TV industry change so much in the last 10 years I’m really excited to be in a role which is so forward thinking. Our thanks to Hannah for taking the time to chat to us.