Preview – Mentoring
Is mentoring just for newbies trying to break into the industry? Or do we all need mentors throughout our careers? If so, how do we find them? Chitra Sounder outlines the plan for her session in the Crucible Adelphi Room that explores the potential of being a mentor and being mentored.
Our panellists will answer these and many other questions in CMC’s first ever session on mentoring. Don’t miss it. As a little teaser, we asked our panellists about their experiences of mentoring.
Back in 2008 my writing partner and I were asked to perform on a CBBC talent contest called ‘The Slammer’. Although we didn’t win, or come second, or even third – ahem – the producer, Steve Ryde, liked what we did and asked us to stay in touch. We did just that and a few months later we found ourselves writing on the second series of the show. Over the years, Steve became a colleague and mentor who offered a helping hand when we needed it and made sure our names were passed on to others in the industry when he felt we could help them. He was also someone we could check in with for advice. I can’t speak for Steve, but I hope the mentorship benefited him too. When he wants something developed or has an idea to throw around he gives us a call and we will drop everything to help. He gave us our first break and we will never forget that. That’s how mentorship should work, it’s reciprocal, do it right and you have a future colleague for life.
I’m lucky enough to have made a career out of writing and have some very close writer friends – one of whom in particular – no names but he’s called Davey Moore. I know I can call on him when I’m having a crisis of confidence or have lost my way with a story. I know he won’t judge. He’ll make me laugh, I’ll make him laugh, then he’ll remind me what I’m good at and what story I’m trying to tell. Maybe that’s the art of mentorship?
I had no idea where to start when I wanted an agent,. It felt like a daunting task, and I needed some advice, to ensure that I found someone who could best represent me. I reached out to a mentor from BAFTA, whom I had recently worked alongside for the BAFTA Rocliffe writing competition. I told them that I had received my first commission. They were incredibly supportive and immediately put me in touch with a number of agents. This made it so much easier, as I knew that whoever they recommended, would be a potentially great fit. Through their help and guidance, I was able to find an agent, who has helped my writing career progress and flourish.
My first real mentor – Jocelyn Stevenson – took a real gamble on me, hiring me with no prior experience as a script editor nearly twenty years ago. She’s a writer as well as an exec and an all-round guru for story and tone. She has a really handy diagnostic which she called The Four Questions:
- Whose story is it?
- What do they want?
- What do they risk?
- What do they learn?
As a new writer, the other thing I took from Jocelyn was Drawer Time: putting your script in a drawer and leaving it to sit there, like proving your dough.
So, there you have it. We all need mentors. And we can all be mentors too. Not sure? Come and join the discussion at Mentor Me, Mentor You….
The Black Sheep
Head of Kids & Family Programming
Author and Scriptwriter