Booming production in High-end TV delivers record levy contributions

The booming production schedule in television drama saw a record £2.6 million paid in contributions to the High-end TV Levy Fund last year.

Tunnel © Des Willie, Kudos Films 2018

The booming production schedule in television drama saw a record £2.6 million paid in contributions to the High-end TV Levy Fund last year, Creative Skillset announced today. More than 100 high-end productions including Game of Thrones, Poldark, Luther, Derry Girls, The Durrells, Black Mirror, Shetland, Call the Midwife and Peaky Blinders, made the payments into the High-end Levy TV Fund.-This supports skills and training courses including Trainee Finder, the entry-level TV drama placement programme, and Make a Move, which offers on-the-job training for crew identified by productions as ready to move into a more senior role. More than 1,000 people benefited from levy-supported training last year.

Kaye Elliott, Creative Skillset’s Director of High-end TV, said: "The continuing success of British and International production companies in producing compelling drama in the UK means that the work investing in next generation talent and crew, funded through the levy, is ever more important. There is an ongoing challenge in making sure the UK can continue to offer a highly-skilled workforce to home-grown and international productions. It is our job is to work with industry to champion the importance of continued investment in skills, to ensure we can meet the demand for today and the future."

Alison Barnett, Head of Production at Kudos, said: "Although drama budgets are still challenging, it is incredibly important for everyone to pay into the High-end TV Levy. I’m a great fan. We’ve had people on training schemes at all levels and they have been a huge success. As an industry, we have skills shortages in every single department and in some cases people are moving up too quickly, and they’re not having proper training; so what is particularly important is the upskilling Creative Skillset offers, which is fantastic.”

Kudos paid the levy on productions this year including Troy: Fall of a City, Gunpowder, Tin Star, Humans and The Tunnel: Vengeance where the company partnered with Sky and Creative Skillset on offering training to six BAME new recruits on location in Deal, Kent. 

Debbie Vertue, Director of Operations at Hartswood whose past contributions include for Sherlock, said: "It is wonderful that more than 90% of indies are paying the High-end TV Levy, particularly as it is voluntary. It not only allows Creative Skillset to plan and deliver a breadth of excellent training and opportunities but also provides sufficient funds for them to research and engage with high-end TV companies on the ever-growing demands of high-end television production and to continually update where the skills gaps are.”

Barry Ryan, Head of Production at Warp Films which paid the High-end TV Levy last year on The Virtues, the Shane Meadows TV series for Channel 4, said: "The courses and programmes supported by the High-end TV Levy are incredibly important for their impact in the regions. As a regional company, based in Sheffield, it is crucial to have a resource for skills development, whether that is inspiring new entrants to enter the industry or encouraging established crew to enhance their careers."

The fund is managed by Creative Skillset under the governance of the High-end TV Council and industry-led working groups. It was established to support the skills of the next generation of high-end TV talent as part of the consultation with the Government on high-end television tax relief, with agreement that all productions intending to take advantage of the tax credit would contribute.

In 2017/18 the High-end TV Levy supported 1,086 individuals to begin or progress their careers in TV drama including directors, writers, producers, craft and tech and production grades, post-production and VFX personnel as well as new entrants across a host of grades. The investment helped skills development for crew and talent on drama productions including Outlander, Victoria, Call The Midwife, Noughts and Crosses, Come Home, Poldark, Save Me, Game of Thrones, The Virtues and Safe. 

This included:  

  • 67 trainees who had a total of 95 placements as part of Trainee Finder, which places trainees on productions
  • 73 individuals across 45 productions through the Make a Move programme, which provides step-up funding for accountants, producers, costume, line producers, production managers and coordinators, for example a production runner to moving to production secretary and a costume assistant to moving to junior costume standby on Come Home
  • 224 people attending four intensive high-end TV bootcamps across the country
  • Five new High-end TV producers, ten directors, 17 production accountants and 17 line producers. New producers supported as part of the programme include Katie Bleakley on The Virtues for Warp, Louise Say, co-producer on Les Misérables for BBC One, and Andy Morgan on Safe for Red
  • Fifty mid- to senior-level crew to further their industry connections as part of the HETV Connect programme.

A new scheme launches this month to support skills training, particularly for freelancers. Skills Passport identifies short courses that could benefit screen professionals. Upon completion of a course, participants can apply for a 'Course Complete' badge to save onto their mobile or attach to their profile on Hiive, Creative Skillset’s online creative platform for creative professionals, as a record for potential employers. The first courses identified for Skills Passport are aimed at those working in high-end TV drama in production roles.

More than £9 million has been collected by the High-end TV Levy in the five years since it was introduced. The figure collected in the first year, 2013-2014, was £764,477, rising to £2,447,725 in 2016-2017 and then £2,641,350 from 105 productions in 2017-2018. The figures for the Skills Investment Fund commonly known as the film levy will be also released shortly.

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