Kasheina Vencatasawmy: from runner to development executive

Kasheina Vencatasawmy has progressed through the ranks of the Sheffield-based indie production company Warp Films after early support from the ScreenSkills High-end TV Skills Fund.

Now a development executive, Kasheina first worked with Warp on one of several internships she secured at production companies, broadcasters and film festivals while studying English at Exeter University.

In 2016, after completing her degree, the company took her on as a runner at its London office. Within months, it was able to offer her a proper training programme with support from ScreenSkills, then Creative Skillset. She earned experience across the business, working as content coordinator, PA to the joint CEO Peter Carlton and then development assistant working with the development team, paving the way to her promotion to development executive in February 2020.

“ScreenSkills (Creative Skillset) allowed Warp to take a chance on me early in my career,” she said. “Warp had early conversations with me about whether it was production or development I wanted to do and development was what I was passionate about. As someone who was new to development, it was an invaluable opportunity for me to grow and learn on the job, giving me hands-on experience reading scripts, giving feedback, going to plays to find new writers or finding interesting podcasts and articles, working on projects, sitting in on company development meetings - and overall providing me with the skills I would need to progress in development. Warp was my first full-time development role and paid role in the industry.”

She also took extra training including a script editor course with ScreenSkills’ Indie Training Fund and also took part in the Edinburgh TV Festival Network scheme. But a lot of the time, it was learning on the job which proved invaluable. “The beauty of working at Warp it is a really small team so we’re in constantly in conversation with each other. Even at a junior level you’re regularly talking to senior execs and having nuanced conversation about the slate, and all opinions are valued. When I was on the training programme, that allowed me to almost be a fly on the wall learning from the more senior team.”

Kasheina, who was born in Mauritius, grew up in England and Sweden and now lives in south London, said the ScreenSkills High-end TV Skills Fund investment "gave them the opportunity to hire someone who didn’t have prior development experience” and paved the way for her to become a development executive.

She was delighted at this year’s promotion, but it was also “quite strange,” she said. “I got the role and then went straight into lockdown, so learning on the job in a very new environment. I’m chuffed that I can bring projects I’m passionate about on to the slate and it’s very exciting to get them under way. Sometimes people think of Warp as the stuff we have done in the past such as This Is England but we’re constantly looking to push boundaries and surprise people. With projects like Little Birds [the new Sky Atlantic series] we’re in totally new territory and it’s a great example of how Warp promotes diversity on screen as well as off-screen – not just race but gender and sexuality, too. It’s really conducive to creativity to have people from a whole mix of backgrounds on the team. We want to make the best, bold, interesting stories we can, and we all bring a unique perspective.”

Some companies take people on for a short period of time under particular schemes but do not keep them on afterwards. Warp took the ScreenSkills training investment "as a training opportunity rather than one-time work placement opportunity which is really important. But I’m really proud and grateful to Warp and ScreenSkills for giving me the opportunity,” she said.

“Schemes like that are totally invaluable in giving people the hands-on skills they would otherwise find difficult to get. It is then up to the industry as a whole to nurture diverse talent and ensure there is space for those people to grow.”

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