WIFTV caught up with Dawn Brett-Hauschild, the winner of the WIFTV Banff World Media Festival Mentorship, to find out about her festival experience, the industry professional mentorship, and her upcoming projects. Dawn discussed her time at Banff, and disclosed her exciting future plans to us in a short interview.
1) How was the festival? What was the biggest highlight of the festival for you?
Overall, the festival was amazing – like a fairytale come true. On the first day, I soaked everything in as an observer on the sidelines. But by the end, I had made dozens of real connections with leading broadcasters, agents, and other like-minded writer/producers. I even ran into an old university friend who is now one of the top female directors of original programming in Canada. How crazy is that?
As for highlights, there are so many. Apart from my projects being well received on the whole, a couple of Canadian production executives asked if I’d be willing to relocate outside Vancouver to work on some of their popular television series. Talk about a shot in the arm!
On a personal note, I was also impressed with the open and friendly vibe. Writer/producers rooted for each other. Online influencers explained their craft to conventional television types. Broadcasters spent their precious free time talking with emerging producers. When I heard HBO was being honoured as the Company of Distinction this year, I thought little-known Canadian writer/producers like me would be relegated to the sidelines. Not so. Everyone was so open and accessible at the master classes, the luncheons, and even the exclusive after-parties. The level of candour and camaraderie was so inspiring.
2) What did you learn throughout your Banff World Media Festival experience?
The Banff Festival taught me so much. It gave me a better handle on where the television business is going, and how I best fit into it. I also learned that, as a writer, I have a desirable skill set – one that I can now manage to chart a new course for my career and achieve my creative ambitions.
3) Did the mentorship benefit you? What did you learn from your mentor and how did she help you?
Meeting with Lark’s development executive, Briean Kenward, was the perfect start to this whole experience. She was kind, encouraging and totally accessible – despite her very busy schedule. She did a lot to set a positive tone from the start.
I also have to give a shout-out to WIFTV board member, Dusty Kelly, who was a welcome touchstone at the festival whenever I needed a friendly face in the sea of people. Dusty even introduced me to Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly, who then tweeted a photo of us together, calling us “industry players.” My husband retweeted that one, although I think he liked my photo with actor/director LeVar Burton the best. My husband’s a serious Trekker.
4) Do you have any new projects on the horizon, or a further development of current projects because of this experience?
Yeah, surprisingly enough, one of my factual television pitches was well received, and now I’m following up with a few different interested broadcasters and production executives to talk next steps. On top of that, I might even have an opportunity to try my hand at scripted television. In short, the whole experience felt like a Cinderella story to me – thanks in large part to my fairy godmother, WIFTV, for giving me the confidence (and financial support) to take my career to the next level. Now, if only the airline could return my lost luggage – all my good shoes were in there.