#89: Mandy Chang, Head of BBC Storyville

So this is the final episode of Season Four - which I started back in March and honestly I have no idea where that time has gone. There will be a couple of bonus episodes coming out to coincide with some film releases, but apart from that I’ll be on hiatus for a couple of months figuring out and planning for Season Five.

But I feel like I’m going out with a bang!! This season has been a real treat - I’ve spoken to some amazing women and had some really fun but also important conversations and that trend is definitely continuing with this episode in which I spoke to Mandy Chang, who is currently the Commissioning Editor at the BBC’s feature documentary strand Storyville. 

Mandy has been on my radar for several years, I’ve seen her speak at Sheffield Doc/Fest and have watched many of the films she’s commissioned and executive produced and I was incredibly excited when she said yes to being interviewed. I knew it would be one of those interviews where an hour / hour and a half is simply not enough time to ask all the right questions and I’m sure there are plenty of other paths that we could’ve gone down but what you’re about to hear is the conversation that we did have and I found it to be as thoughtful and illuminating as I had hoped.

Mandy started out as a freelance filmmaker, producing and directing docs for TV. Her credits include The Mona Lisa Curse, an Emmy and Grierson award-winning polemic that traces the pernicious rise of the art market and The Camera That Changed The World, a portrait of the first portable cameras and the impact they had on filmmaking and filmmakers. 

Mandy was later Head of Arts at ABC TV, a broadcaster in Australia before joining Storyville in 2017. During her time there she has shepherded many incredible documentaries to our screen, among them are: UNDER THE WIRE, ONE CHILD NATION, COLD CASE HAMMARSKJÖLD, INTO THE STORM, I AM GRETA and the upcoming MISHA AND THE WOLVES. 

And she has just been announced as the new Global Head of Documentaries at Fremantle where she will spearhead the producer-distributor’s growth in high-end factual production. 

We talked about her filmmaking career and how she sustained that for two decades, as well as how those experiences have informed her approach to commissioning. We discuss how she built on Storyville’s legacy whilst also pushing it in new and bold directions, why caretaking is a central part of her commissioning philosophy and what that means and what excites her about the future of documentary.

I think Mandy was really generous with her answers and I certainly got a lot from hearing about her career journey, so I hope you do as well.