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International Emmys: Missed opportunities for TV creators in CEE
 17 Feb 2021
Despite the fact that the International Emmy Awards are the most prestigious awards in our industry, the number of members of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences from the CEE region remains low with even less submissions for the Awards. Pola Hempowicz, member of the Academy from Poland, tells Yako Molhov why it is important to engage more people from the region in the Academy and increase the number of submissions in order to gain more recognition for local content creators on an international level and create new opportunities for talent development and new business opportunities.


Pola, you are the first woman in Poland, elected member of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. How did you join the Academy and what are the requirements for one to become a member?

In 2018 I was invited to join the Semi Final round of judging, Comedy category, hosted by ComediHa! in Quebec City, Canada. Only Academy members are in a position to organize such events. Shortly after, Sylvain Parent-Bedard, CEO of ComediHa! recommended me for Academy membership. At every board and members meeting, there is an election and in September I was voted in. At the time I was one of the youngest if not the youngest member ever elected. And as you just mentioned I am the first woman representing Poland in the Academy.

Two main requirements for people interested in becoming members are: Prospective Members must be employed at an executive level or in an upper management position, for a minimum of two years in a company or organization that is either directly engaged in, or providing services to, the television industry including internet, mobile and technology; and Prospective Members must be proposed or endorsed by an existing member of the Academy.


Is the CEE region represented well in terms of number of members of the Academy?

Unfortunately it is not. At the moment Poland has only two members, so does Hungary. Czech Republic has now 4 members, but Romania doesn’t have any representation. Bulgaria, Serbia and Ukraine each has only one member of the Academy. Now, just to show the contrast – France has 17 members, Germany has 43, UK - 26, Brazil - 25 and Canada - 26. These countries have a very high awareness of International Emmy Awards and every year submit many productions and talents and almost always score nominations and wins. CEE still have some work to do. But funnily enough, it’s not about the quality of our local talent and TV productions. It is simply impossible to win an Emmy, if you don’t submit your work.


What about the awareness for the competition in our region? Did you have many entries from CEE in recent years?

The amount of entries is confidential, but I can honestly tell you we are talking single digits here. And that’s what surprises me the most. We have tremendously talented actors and passionate storytellers in the region. Both comedy and drama productions are high quality. Same goes for documentaries and non-scripted entertainment. Why not share it with the world?


What are the main benefits for content creators to join the competition besides the international recognition for the winners?

The Emmy Awards are in TV what Oscars are in Motion Pictures. They’re the most prestigious awards. Winning one of those trophies is pretty cool. However there are far more valuable benefits and opportunities that come with the participation in the competition.

First off, it’s important to understand that International Emmy Awards have a very complex judging process. Your submission will be screened by many, highly qualified TV experts from around the world. Most of them are decisionmakers in their organizations. Every year the jury will be different. And most importantly jury members will not be revealed before the judging sessions. So you cannot spend money on marketing or target the promotion of your content to win. The quality of your content will have to do all the talking.

Now, given the reach of the competition, it is very likely that your content might be exactly what those TV Execs in the jury are looking for. So just by entering the competition you might just increase the international sales of your content or its format.

It is also very probable that you’ll find coproducers for your next projects. With such a strong expansion of international streaming platforms, it makes complete sense to join forces and split the bill of your future productions.

In Quebec City I came across not only hilarious but also very well made comedy shows from Latin America. Content from that part of the world wouldn’t normally be on my radar, but as soon as I returned back to Poland I started looking into collaborating with those creators or localizing their formats as they would fit perfectly in the Polish audience’s preferences.

It just goes to show you that the opportunities are abundant, you just have to share your work with the world.

The competition for the The 49th International Emmy Awards features 16 categories altogether. The First Round of Judging takes place online from March to May.

The Semi-Final Round of Judging takes place from May to September at live screening events held all over the world, hosted by members of the Academy. Ernst & Young tabulate ballots to determine four nominees in each category.

Nominees are announced at different times throughout the year according to the Awards Ceremony that the Category belongs to, as follows: International Emmy® News Awards: August, International Emmy® Awards: September, International Emmy® Kids Awards: August/September.

The Final Round of Judging is conducted at different times throughout the year according to the Awards Ceremony that the Category belongs to. Ernst & Young tabulate ballots to determine the winner of each category.

Winners are announced at the following Awards Ceremonies: International Emmy® News Awards: September/October, International Emmy® Awards: November, International Emmy® Kids Awards: October @MipJunior.

All the Rules & Regulations as well as Entry Forms can be found at iemmys.tv


You are running your own business in Poland, developing comedy series and helping international content distributors navigate in Poland and CEE region. What are the latest content trends in our region?

I think 2020 has taught us how to be scrappy and financially conservative. If you have a format that is fairly easy to produce and doesn’t require a big crew (meaning is very “covid restrictions’ friendly) there’s going to be a significant interest in it. At the moment I am bringing fresh new dating show called Phone Swap to CEE, which seems to be very much in demand.

Comedies are even more chased after, but to find an original idea is a challenge. When you take a look at the big streaming platforms’ plans for local commissions, most of it is drama. To be interesting and binge worthy is one thing, to be funny is a completely different ballgame.

That’s another reason to get involved with the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, to participate in this year’s judging sessions, to watch high quality content from all over the world and to get inspired. We can all learn from each other, support one another and work together to entertain people, who need that entertainment now, more than ever.
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