CME Content Academy student - Kristina Sverkunová
Her teachers told Kristina Sverkunová that writing “wasn’t a real job.” They urged her to give up her passion to write books and scripts. Be practical, they said. Choose something safe. And for a while, Kristina did just that. She became an entrepreneur, opening a successful craft brew pub in Prague.
But writing was in her blood. She had never stopped – even when serving up craft beers or starting a sustainable fashion business. Kristina wrote for online magazines, she penned publicity articles for her pub. She told her many IT customers at the pub about her dream of being paid to write.
Now, Kristina has earned that chance. The 28-year-old has been chosen as one of a select group of students for the new CME Content Academy – a school that will develop talented newcomers into the scriptwriters, showrunners and TV producers of tomorrow. TV Nova and TV Markíza created CME together with The Television Institute, to not only train students in the television industry, but to give them the opportunity to work long-term for the two broadcasters.
“It’s a pretty big deal for me,” Kristina said. “I’m really excited to start the program.”
Born in Salzburg, Austria, to Russian and Ukrainian parents, Kristina moved to the Czech Republic when she was 4 years old. She has been a reader and a writer for as long as she can remember.
“I had a rough time during my studies,” she said. “I was passionate about my writing, but my teachers were afraid that I wouldn’t make it.”
Instead, Kristina used her innate business sense – she seems to be a born entrepreneur – to start a business.
“I was 19 in 2014 and I read about craft beer. A brewery was too expensive, but I thought, ‘you can sell them.’ And I was right,” she laughed.
Kristina said she loves to look for opportunities and even developed a sustainable fashion brand of custom-made clothing with her mother. She and her boyfriend ran the pub for about seven years before it “stopped being a pleasure.”
That’s where her journey back to writing as a living rather than a hobby kicked into high gear. An IT customer from the pub who knew about her passion offered her a job as a copywriter. She began writing for websites and apps.
Then she heard about a contest in Hungary, where people could submit scripts for a TV pilot. Her old desire to write a TV series came roaring back.
“I’m not doing anything to get closer to this dream of mine,” she began thinking.
So she started researching script writing, even looked into studying at a film school. Then came the CME Content Academy.
Kristina made it through the first round of applications. Then came the grueling second round, held in Brno, where she would come face-to-face with CME leaders and advisors. Kristina had planned her trip from Prague to Brno with care – building in several hours so she could have a leisurely breakfast and be fresh and prepared.
But her train stopped on the tracks and she was delayed for hours. Not to mention, it was scorching hot outside.
“I got to Brno ten minutes before the second round,” she said. “No food, soaking wet because of the heat and a little stressed because I don’t normally speak English.”
Not only did Kristina have to answer a lot of questions (“Can you be funny? Tell us a joke!”), but she also had to pitch a TV series idea in English.
“I didn’t expect to say my pitch in English – which was stupid,” she said with a smile. But she aced the interview and impressed the CME staff.
“Kristina showed tremendous energy for the television industry and filmmaking, and had strong communication skills,” said [the CEO Klára Brachtlová]. “She gave so many compelling reasons to study at CME, and she demonstrated the skills, talent, knowledge, and ability to study that we were looking for.”
When asked about her plans for the future, Kristina was ready.
“I always have a plan – a year, five years,” she said.
Beginning this October, she will spend two years learning from master teachers at CME Content Academy, including practical training at TV Nova and Markiza. From there, she plans to write for TV, then write books, make movies and mentor other young people.
“My goal is to do a TV series where I can give a voice to the people who are not heard,” she said.
That, too, is a major goal of TV Nova, TV Markíza, and Voyo: To give talented people the opportunity to write and produce their own content that speaks to Czechs and Slovaks -- to their souls -- and to create original stories from their unique culture, humor, and traditions.
CME Content Academy removes the barriers to entry in the television industry, offering the space, time, and financial security to help students hone their craft, particularly in fiction, reality, and entertainment programming.