CJ Weerasinghe

Scheduler, VICE

How did you find out about Ones To Watch?

I found out about Ones to Watch through a diploma course I was taking at the NFTS, and subsequently got to know some people who had done the course that had been selected for the scheme. Speaking to them about their time on the scheme, the people they’d met and the opportunities it had afforded them, it was a no-brainer to give an application a shot. I made it into the top 100 in the first year I’d applied, but only made it into the Ones to Watch crew in my second year of application.

What’s your best memory from being on the scheme?

Admittedly it’s hard to isolate one moment that stands out from the bunch, but one that comes to mind is of day four. The intensity of the week had turned the 30 of us from nervous strangers on day one to close mates by day four. I just remember there being a lot of tears and positive affirmations from one person to the next. We were so happy to have been there together and to have met, sharing this incredible week together was the icing on the cake. I think that’s the part to keep it mind most of all – the people you’ll meet during the festival are really important, but it’s the people in your scheme who are the most important and will be your most valuable asset during and after the festival is over.

Tell us about the most memorable talks/sessions in your year.

C5 Controller Ben Frow and Jay Hunt are two industry heads who you can guarantee will leave you inspired and humbled. Their honest and personable natures bring a room to a eager calm and you hang off every word they have to say. I truly valued the intimate but whirlwind OTW-only sessions we had on day two, just us in an auditorium with the commissioners and content creators having very honest conversations about the industry, personal experiences and thoughts about the future. There was a big emphasis on equality and representation in TV and digital throughout the week as many conversations and talks were focused on this – what is TV in 2018 and what does it look like? Why? Can we do better? Being in the second row for Michaela Coel’s very raw McTaggart lecture is one memory that I won’t ever forget, a definite stand not only this festival, but for Edinburgh TV Festival and previous McTaggart Lectures.

Did being on Ones To Watch change your career ambitions?

Being selected for the Ones to Watch scheme cemented for me that I’ve always been in the right industry, but that I just need to reroute my career. My fellow OTWers have been really supportive of this move and are ready to offer guidance whenever I’ve needed it. I’ve been lucky enough to be paired with a brilliant mentor is really committed to my growth and development. I still pinch myself that I was given this opportunity and I know that this is just the beginning.

Did you meet anyone through the scheme, or at the Festival, who’s had a big impact on your life or career?

One of the most brilliant aspects of being at the Festival through the scheme is being able to connect with people in the industry that you would not have otherwise had the opportunity to. Through chance encounters and simply walking up to people and introducing myself, I connected myself with various commissioners and content leads. Being identified as an OTW gave me the confidence to put myself forward in situations where I may not have otherwise done so. I will reiterate though, it’s your fellow OTWers who I believe will have the biggest impact during the Festival and in the future, don’t pass up the opportunities to get to know them better!

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