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7th May 2012
Sweetshop mentor prize
Sweetshop CEO, Wilf Sweetland, explains the thinking behind the Mentorship Prize and why embracing social responsibility is so important for the advertising industry.

The inaugural Mentorship Prize in association with global production company, The Sweetshop is directly linked to the Changing the World Frame by Frame category of the YDA and the winner of that category will receive a 12-month mentorship on their next project for social change from Sweetshop.

Mentoring will come in the form of guidance, access to contacts, script development, how to make the content and what to do with it afterwards, and Sweetshop will pair the winner up with one of their established directors and give them access to the MD/EP of the closest market to them, plus one Skype call or one face-to-face meeting (at one of Sweetshop’s seven offices LA, London, Shanghai, Bangkok, Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland) once a month for 12 months.

Wilf, What convinced you to be part of this year’s YDA via the mentorship prize The Sweetshop is offering?

By creating the Mentorship Prize we are directly supporting upcoming talent, creating pathways and, through the generosity our directors, regional management and executive producers, passing on expertise, experience and guidance to someone starting out in their career.

Over the years, developing emerging talent has been a big focus for us and we’re delighted to be doing this in the Cannes arena in partnership with the YDA. It’s also very important to us that when we’re supporting an initiative or organisation through sponsorship, there’s a tangible benefit to both sides – rather than just a logo at the bottom of a mailer.

What can the person who wins this category in 2018 expect from directors and staff at Sweetshop?

The winner of the Mentorship will have the ability to develop relationships with our directors, management and EPs globally through regular contact (in person if they are in one of the seven cities in which we have an office). Through this contact, we can offer support and thinking on a current project they are working on from beginning to end, advice on skillset development, creative thinking, script analysis, industry guidance and background. It will be a very personal mentorship dependent upon the winner and what their needs are at this stage of their career.
Why do you think the Changing the World Frame By Frame category is so important? 

Telling a narrative, no matter how small, can have a mass effect via today’s modern communication. We believe that through the power of storytelling and creativity, social or environmental change can happen. As a population, we respond to emotion, and as filmmakers we can influence and drive that response. We want to inspire emerging directors to understand that now, more than ever, they can change the world.

This category also relies not only on craft and ideas, but also on collective behaviour, a social movement and a social change to make the world a better place. These initiatives need as much collective help as they can get. This is why we are offering a special prize to the winner to help facilitate future initiatives for global social responsibility ideas and content.
How much responsibility should advertising take for highlighting global social responsibility?

That’s up to CMOs communicating their company’s values and goals through their advertising. Some take a lot of responsibility, others not so much. At the end of the day, advertising exists to sell product and inform people. Social responsibility is as much the remit of individuals as it is that of business and government.
Do you think advertising currently does enough to inform people about the issues around social issues?

The more that people are informed about issues, the greater the chance behaviour will change. There can never be too much attention drawn to social issues in my book. 

How important are event such as the YDA for uncovering new talent within the advertising industry?
The YDA is a great way for talent to be exposed to a large audience on a global scale. It’s important as it focuses attention in one spot for a moment, providing clarity in a very cluttered environment. YDAs are prestigious and have historically uncovered some great voices of filmmaking and advertising.
What do you hope to achieve with the mentorship programme through the YDA? 

Establishing the mentorship program through YDA is one of the ways in which we can give back to the industry by supporting the next generation. As a production company, this is something we’ve always done, and it’s very much a part of who we are. To be able to help someone on their journey to realising their dream is a wonderful thing to be a part of.
The Sweetshop is also represented on the YDA jury this year; what are you most looking forward to about that process?

Laura Macauley-Thoel, our managing director in the United States is judging this year. Laura forms part of a formidable jury that will bring critical eyes and understanding to the judging process. Laura is deeply creative, highly regarded, very experienced and devoted to uncovering and supporting emerging directing talent. I know she’s very much looking forward to sharing her thoughts, opinions and advice.
The Changing the World Frame by Frame category aims to give filmmakers a chance to highlight positive and impactful initiatives for global social responsibility. The YDA wants to see and share extraordinary filmic stories based around social issues which effect the world. The entries are to highlight stories that cannot be confined to a traditional advertising spot and the YDA encourages a more documentary approach.