Record contributions to last years' Film Skills Fund

Studio blockbusters to arthouse indies and micro-budget productions paid a record amount towards training the next generation in 2017-2018.

Only You © The Bureau 2018

Studio blockbusters to arthouse indies and micro-budget productions paid a record amount towards training the next generation in 2017-2018, Creative Skillset (now known as ScreenSkills) announced today.

Contributions to the Film Skills Fund – previously known as the film levy – hit £937,768, an increase of 18 per cent on the year before and a 24% increase in terms of the total number of films contributing.   

The receipts are invested in skills including the Trainee Finder scheme, which places trainees on placements with productions, as well as other schemes and initiatives to improve the diversity of the workforce and support training at every level of a career in screen. More than 450 people received SIF-funded training in the last year.

The majority of productions paying in also used the trainees supported, including Mike Leigh’s new film with Film4, Peterloo, Disney’s Artemis Fowl, and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald from Warner Bros. 

Gareth Ellis-Unwin, Creative Skillset’s Head of Film, said: "Investing in training is the way we all ensure we continue to nurture and maintain the skilled workforce that helps make the UK such a great place to make films. The fund supports screen professionals at every stage of their career and the whole industry benefits.

"Part of my new role as Head of Film at Creative Skillset is to make sure that every production understands the value and importance of this very modest investment in the workforce at a time when demand has never been higher. The UK’s highly skilled crew are the foundation stone of our achievements in screen. I urge all productions to speak to us at the earliest opportunity so we can help maximise the impact of their SIF investment by connecting them to exciting new talent.”

Warner Bros. have paid into the fund on all productions in the UK since its inception, including Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Josh Berger, President and Managing Director, Warner Bros. UK, said:

"It has never been more important to invest in the next generation and ensure the flow of new, diverse talent continues to invigorate our creative industries. Warner Bros. film productions in the UK have invested over £1.5 million into the Film Skills Fund to date and we remain committed to our ongoing partnership with Creative Skillset, playing our part in developing the world-class talent for which the UK is rightly famous.” 

Nadine Moseley, a hair and make-up trainee, said:  "Getting my place as a Creative Skillset trainee was a huge deal for me and I will be eternally grateful.  I felt so fortunate when I found out and within two weeks I had secured a trainee hair and make-up position with Warner Bros on Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and I haven't looked back since. Massive thanks to the team for helping me realise my dreams."

Disney contributed from five films in the last year including Dumbo, Christopher Robin and Artemis Fowl.  Lee Jury, General Manager, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures UK and Ireland, said: "One of the main reasons the Walt Disney Company has such a long history of producing Disney, Marvel and Lucasfilm movies in the UK is down to the hugely talented craftspeople both behind, and in front of, the camera and the strong infrastructure that exists to support this type of filmmaking. So we’re proud to continue investing into the fund, and partnering with Creative Skillset, to help unearth and nurture the next wave of diverse talent, and in doing so increase the already stellar levels of creativity we have within the UK film industry.”

Peter Blaxill, a sound trainee whose placements included Disney’s Artemis Fowl, said: “Being a part of Trainee Finder was such an invaluable experience. It's given me an incredible base to launch my career and provided some great new knowledge in a variety of topics outside of these placements - such as finance, networking, and even a first aid course.”

Rose Garnett, Director of BBC Films, which supported the fund from 17 productions including the two forthcoming biopics, Judy, with Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland, co-produced with Pathé and Stan and Ollie, about the comedians Laurel and Hardy, said: "We are proud to support the Film Skills Fund which plays a huge role in ensuring creativity, individuality and diversity will all be at the heart of the film industry of the future."

David Livingstone, of Calamity Films, who is producing Judy, said: "On Judy, we’ve been lucky to welcome seven talented Skillset trainees across production, edit and costume, art and locations departments. Contributing to the Film Skills Investment Fund brings fantastic benefits all round - to the film who are gaining subsidised trainees, the trainees who are getting valuable experience and opportunity, and for the wider industry in ensuring the next generation of talent behind the camera have the skills and support to carve out successful careers in the field.”

Bennett McGhee, of Silvertown Films, producer of the low-budget rite-of-passage rap battle drama VS, said operating at around a budget of £1 million had been a real challenge. "It was incredible added value to have fresh, ambitious, hard-working - and industry-vetted - people join the team. From an aspirational point of view, we were also able to select from a diverse group of trainees in various departments to help maintain the diversity standards we had set for ourselves as a production.” 

Yaw A. Basoah, of Dark Pictures, producer of the dystopian thriller Zero (Kill Her Witch) commissioned through the Film London/BFI/BBC Films Microwave scheme, used Creative Skillset trainees. He said: "Producing an ambitious and compelling film like Zero on £150,000 was an extremely challenging undertaking. Crucial to the process was collaborating with skilled, hard-working and determined trainees, vetted by Trainee Finder, all of whom enhanced their departments’ artistic, practical, and technical offering.”

Matthieu de Braconier, of The Bureau, producer of the love story, Only You, said: "A trainee position on a low-budget film, where every pound is really made to matter, has to be a win-win. The trainee will be made to roll their sleeves up and will most probably be encouraged to dive in the deep-end. It’s their opportunity to make themselves indispensable. The production simply doesn’t have the means to leave any resources untapped. But isn’t that what you want? On Only You, Laura, Cora, Rosa, John and Elias have done just that."

What the fund supports

Trainee Finder launched five years ago for film and has launched the careers of more than 350 film production professionals, with trainees working on films including Wonder Woman, Jurassic World, God's Own Country and Lady Macbeth.

In 2017-2018, 84 per cent of eligible productions took trainees. This equated to 177 production placements and 1,434 weeks of training activity.  The scheme had a record number of applications this year with more than 1,100 applications for 70 places. The selected candidates were:

  • 66% women
  • 60% from outside London
  • 20% black, Asian and minority ethnic

The fund also supports continuing professional development and funds bursaries. Of individual film bursaries in 2017-2018, 60% were awarded to women. Awards were distributed to applicants from London, the South East, South West, East of England, East Midlands, West Midlands, the North West and Yorkshire and Humber as well as applicants in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Continuing professional development (CPD) courses funded by the fund included many in areas of skills shortages or high demand, such as:

  • production management for feature film (delivered through BECTU)
  • pro-level make-up effects and prosthetics essentials (Creative Media Skills)
  • Steadicam operators workshop - regions (GBCT)
  • film location sound recording ( National Film and Television School - NFTS)
  • moving up to production accountant (film) (the Production Guild)
  • film accounts trainee finder (The Production Guild/Creative Skillset)
  • production buying and props training (Talking Point)
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