“I gained a lot of confidence from being on the scheme”
Vivien is the Managing Director of Studio Hamburg UK and responsible for implementing and executing the company’s strategy for the UK and international markets. She is leading a team that develops and produces quality English language content for international audiences.
Vivien has worked in the UK film and TV industry for twelve years, both in the public and commercial sectors, and her experience spans development, acquisitions, international production and distribution. She has worked for the BFI Film Fund, Universal Pictures International Production and The Weinstein Company, amongst others.
Vivien was a mentee on the first WFTV Mentoring Scheme in 2012 and shares with us her experiences on the programme and how it helped her progress in her career...
“It is very rare that we take the time out of our busy schedules for an in-depth look at other disciplines of the industry, and yet we can learn so much from each other.”
Why did you apply for the WFTV Mentoring Scheme?
To improve my pitching and presentation skills in order to sell myself and my projects better. To widen my network, especially in the world of television where I had only very few contacts prior to joining the scheme.
What were you hoping to get out of the scheme?
To learn from my fellow mentees, who represented all areas of the film and television value chain – from development to distribution and directing to post production. It is very rare that we take the time out of our busy schedules for an in-depth look at other disciplines of the industry, and yet we can learn so much from each other. The scheme provides the perfect breeding ground for inspiration and career development.
Was it what you expected?
More than I expected actually. The combination of meeting up and learning from my fellow mentees every fortnight, and seeing my mentor once a month meant that there was great momentum for me to work on myself and to improve my skills. The scheme was perfectly run, our group was an amazing mix of very different people, and I found friends for life.
“I know that Will is only a phone call away whenever I need help or guidance which is priceless given I now run a company myself.”
Were you at all surprised by the mentor you were paired with?
Yes. Whilst I asked for Will Clarke (Founder of Altitude Film Entertainment Group) to be my mentor, I never thought he would agree to it given he’s such a busy (and brilliant) man.
How did the relationship with your mentor work during the scheme and what do you feel you gained from it?
We met up once a month throughout the scheme and set monthly goals for me – usually things to do/try out, or people to meet, but sometimes also a piece of research for example. We became friends through the scheme and still meet every few months these days. I know that Will is only a phone call away whenever I need help or guidance which is priceless given I now run a company myself. He really was/is the perfect mentor for me and I am forever grateful to WFTV for making the introduction.
How did the mentoring scheme change your career and how did it lead to your present role?
I gained a lot of confidence from being on the scheme. Not just through using my fellow mentees as a sound board when work problems arose, but also by having Will as my mentor and being able to access his knowledge and advice.
Can you tell us about your current role/work?
I head up Studio Hamburg UK Ltd, a British television and film production company that develops and produces English language content for international audiences. We are a 100% subsidiary of the Studio Hamburg Production Group and broadcaster NDR in Germany.
What would be a ‘typical’ day at the office for you?
Negotiating terms of deals with writers, directors or actors agents; development meetings and writers’ rooms; meetings with financiers; business planning.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
“Trust yourself and your taste. You know what you want and you have the network to do whatever you want. Don’t be scared. Now you just need to DO IT!” Advice from Katie Goodson Thomas at Fox Searchlight before I set up Studio Hamburg UK – I still sometimes think about her words every now and then although it’s been three years.
What advice would you give someone thinking of applying for the WFTV Mentoring Scheme?
The scheme will help you strengthen your confidence and it gives you access to an amazing network of fantastic women in the industry some of who will become friends for life!
WFTV would like to thank Vivien for taking part in this interview.