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06 July 2017

“Only thrill seekers should apply!” – Learn more about the WFTV Mentoring Scheme

Since its inception eight years ago, Nicola Lees has been producing the WFTV Mentoring Scheme. In that time, she has helped 140 women develop their careers and build a supportive peer group. Here she tells us more about how the scheme works and what those who get on it can expect, with a little help from some former mentees!

“I’ve been in this industry for 20 years and for the first time I have support. It’s an amazing feeling.” – Kate Myers, Producer, Hero

Since 2010, the annual WFTV Mentoring Scheme has helped 140 mid-career women reignite, relaunch or reinvent their careers in film and television with tangible results. Several have secured promotions into senior international roles (London, Beijing, Los Angeles), some have set up their own production companies and one launched a diversity-focused film production fund. All report greater career progression, job satisfaction and a greater sense of professionalism and belonging.


“The scheme is utterly invaluable. I cannot imagine a single person out there who would not reap the benefits of such a well orchestrated and inspirational scheme.” – Anushka Ayaru, Creative Director, Whistle Media

Each mentee group is formed of 20 women who work in film, television and digital, and in all stages of the production process – from initial creative spark through to distribution. Having a group with editorial, business and technical expertise across all genres allows for sharing of specialist knowledge and exposure to many creative/management/problem-solving styles. The WFTV Mentoring Scheme experience is immersive and intense, with the mentees expected to join in, try new things and teach others.

“My mentor gave great perspective, and the support of the other mentees was invaluable when things got tough. The last six months have really opened my eyes and pushed me to do things I never thought I would – including speaking on a panel at an international TV festival!”
– Commercial Director
Focused career development takes place in 1-2-1 meetings with mentors, who offer six hours of guidance over six months. Mentors have included Sara Putt, Jane Lush, Christo Hird, Danny Cohen, Julie Parmenter, Hilary Davis and Pat Younge.

“An extremely valuable and well organised scheme, which aims to break down and overcome some of the hidden barriers to women’s career progression. I was hugely impressed with the depth of thought and organisation behind the scenes and would strongly recommend the WFTV mentor scheme.”
– Bekki Wray-Rogers, Producer, Utopia, This is England ’88 & ’90 Co-Founder, Duck Soup Films

Each mentee must also deliver a one-hour presentation/workshop to the rest of the group. Seminars have included sessions on commissioning, policy and regulation, post-production workflow, multi-camera directing and the challenges of working in the industry as a dyslexic. In preparing their talks, the mentees develop confidence in their own expertise and overcome their fear of public speaking; in listening to all the other seminars they learn about parts of the industry to which they would never normally have access.  Many go on to speak at universities or on panels at industry events.

“The transient nature of freelancing in the TV and film industries can make it hard to develop a cohort of peers who will be there when you are struggling and who cheer you on when you do something well… the mentoring scheme has given me the gift of such a group – while the scheme is now finished the network we have developed is going to be around for a long time.”
– Cathy Heffernan, Journalist

A combination of mentor-led and peer-to-peer development – combined with CV workshops, a business-book club, and trips to Cannes Film Festival and Sheffield DocFest – brings about profound change in the participants. When they apply to the scheme, many complain of feeling isolated, having a lack of direction and/or little self-belief.  When they graduate from the scheme they report a renewed sense of confidence, greater resilience, and a strong, on-going, support network that lasts way beyond the end of the scheme.

“Only thrill seekers should apply! An intense, exhilarating experience that inspires change.”
– Avril Evans, Director


Applications are currently open for the 2018 WFTV Mentoring Scheme. For more information and details of how to apply, click here.

We are also holding two open evenings in London where you can find out more about the scheme and hear from former and current mentees. Visit the WFTV events calendar for details. Please note: spaces are limited.