ScreenSkills launches pan-UK mentoring network for screen industry professionals

ScreenSkills today announces a pan-UK mentoring drive to support new and established professionals in the UK’s screen industries.

The ScreenSkills Mentoring Network, supported by the BFI awarding National Lottery funds as part of its Future Film Skills strategy, aims to match 3,000 mentoring pairs by 2022.

ScreenSkills has brought together screen organisations who already offer mentoring to devise a standardised set of guidance and good practice to ensure maximum benefit to participants.

The next step is a recruitment drive to recruit new volunteer mentors at every level of British film, television, VFX, animation and games as well as candidates who would like to be mentored to further their career.

Seetha Kumar, ScreenSkills’ Chief Executive Officer, said: “We know that properly organised mentoring can help anyone in their career but there are particular benefits for those without a strong network of personal contacts in the industry.

“Mentoring is a very positive way for anyone working in UK screen to do their bit to help develop the next generation. We have pledged to find 3,000 pairs of mentors and mentees by 2022 so urge everyone to consider giving their time.”

Amanda Nevill, BFI Chief Executive, said: “I am delighted to see ScreenSkills launch the Future Film Skills mentoring scheme, a key recommendation in the BFI Skills Strategy. The aim is to provide personalised and individual support across the industry.

“We will only develop people with first-class skills if they are mentored and supported by the first-class practitioners in the industry, those who are generously ready to pass on their expertise and knowledge. Personal support like this is so confidence boosting, both creatively and professionally, which is why we have also just started to run a mentoring scheme here at the BFI for our own staff.”

ScreenSkills has prepared resources explaining how to mentor, how to be a mentee, best practice guidelines for mentoring, how to run a mentoring programme and case studies of successful partnerships.

Mentoring is already part of key training programmes such as Trainee Finder, ScreenSkills’ flagship new entrant placement programme, and the Series Producer Programme that prepares television professionals to step up to series producer.

Margot James, Digital and Creative Industries Minister, said: "The UK is home to some of the best creative minds in the world and mentoring is a great way to inspire the next generation. The ScreenSkills initiative will provide up to 3,000 mentoring places. Not only will the mentors provide training to our aspiring creative talent, but it also gives those already established in the industry the chance to give something back and share their wealth of knowledge."

Addressing industry executives at a launch event featuring mentors and mentees, film director Oliver Parker volunteered as a mentor. He said: “I have felt in the past that the British film industry has lurched along, with plenty of talent but not much support or long-term vision. There are some periods when we punch well above our weight and others when we’re not even in the ring. The industry is changing rapidly- there’s chaos and opportunity - and so now more than ever it's vital to be equipped with as much insight and knowledge as possible. I’m full of admiration for this project and very keen to contribute where I can, so I didn’t have to think twice about taking part.”

Negeen Yazdi, Senior Vice President, Film Development and Production, at Endeavor Content and a mentor with the ScreenSkills-backed Birds Eye View Future Leaders in Distribution scheme, said: “When I was coming up in my career, I was lucky enough to have some strong role models and mentors but who were predominately men.  This inspired me to sign up to become a mentor to help young women ask questions and seek help in new ways, and for them to see that there are strong women role models in the industry - some of whom are working mums – so it can be done.”

Richard Johnston, Chair of ScreenSkills and Chief Executive Officer of Endemol Shine UK, said: “The mutual benefits of a successful mentor/mentee relationship are indisputable, so I’m delighted to be taking part in this fantastic and ambitious project to support the UK screen industries.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have been mentored earlier in my career, and lately been a mentor to others building their careers and have found each side of the relationship invaluable. Spending time with ambitious people at different stages in their careers, and with different backgrounds and perspectives, has been as insightful as it has been rewarding and I would encourage anyone to invest the relatively small amount of time required to get on board.”

Alex Hope, Deputy Chair of ScreenSkills and Joint Managing Director and Co-founder of DNEG, said: “Mentoring is an important part of our training programmes here at DNEG, and the new ScreenSkills Mentoring Network is a valuable and welcome step forward for our industry. By partnering with ScreenSkills to offer mentoring and support to a wider talent pool, we in the industry can reach more under-represented groups, address skills gaps and ensure that our industry provides opportunities, development and shared experience to those looking to progress their careers. I encourage people to sign up and be a part of this important initiative.”

The network involves a number of organisations already committed to mentoring.

Carola Ash, Director of Member Relations and Programming Europe for AMPAS (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences), said: "Mentoring has always been an important part of the Academy - in Los Angeles they have the Gold Internship Program which has been going for a number of years.  

“We are trying to build on that over here in the UK where we have many Academy Members who want to give back and open up opportunities for underrepresented groups in the film industry. Together with our friends at ScreenSkills we are hopefully building a strategy to support women and minorities as they gain a foothold in the industry."

Talent agent Sara Putt, of Sara Putt Associates, said: “Mentoring can play a vital role in the development of careers at all levels in our industries, particularly in the freelance community where career progression can be challenging due to a lack of structure and support. 

“The relationship with ScreenSkills and being able to access all the fantastic resources they offer around mentoring is already proving invaluable. It is also hugely helpful to be part of a community of best practice in this area, as this provides a guarantee of quality and professionalism for anyone looking to work with a mentor.”

Andrea Corbett, Skills and Career Development Manager of Directors UK, said: “Directors UK has really welcomed the opportunity to participate in the Mentoring Working group established by ScreenSkills and has benefited hugely from the dedicated and expert guidance that we can share with our director members. 

“We look forward to closer engagement to maximise the full potential of the mentoring work that we are doing and to learn from others in the same space. We know that impactful and well-designed mentoring places opportunity, diversity and a shared experience at its heart.”

Liz Tucker, Chair of Women in Film and Television, said: “Our industry-leading WFTV Mentoring Scheme started in 2011 has been an invaluable programme, helping mid-career women across the film and tv industry develop their careers. 

“From writer/directors to DOPs and casting agents, the scheme has helped to propel mentees into positions across the industry.  We understand the transformative power of mentoring and are very keen to share with and learn from other schemes to build and improve to deliver excellence. We are delighted to be part of the ScreenSkills community of best practice.”

Theresa Wise, Chief Executive of the Royal Television Society, said: “In our experience, mentoring can be a huge help to students from low income backgrounds who are unlikely to have connections in the industry who can help them with get a foot in the door and start their careers. We think the development of a community of best practice and materials by ScreenSkills to support new and existing schemes to develop will be a great resource for the industry.”

Marc Boothe, founder of B3media which works with BAME creative artists, said: "We’re really excited to be working with our partner ScreenSkills on delivering mentoring to the next wave of talent with whom we are working to diversify the industry."

There will be targeted intakes of mentees over the coming year, first focusing on people from BAME backgrounds, followed by those returning to work after a career break, areas of skills gaps and screen professionals from out of London. Mentors are welcome to volunteer through the ScreenSkills website at any time.

For more information, including case studies of mentors and mentees and images, contact Louise Jury, Director of Communications and Marketing, on 020 7713 9883 or louise.jury@screenskills.com or Elisabeth ten Cate, Communications Officer, on 020 7713 9835 or elisabeth.tencate@screenskills.com

Notes to editors

ScreenSkills, formerly known as Creative Skillset, is the industry-led skills body for the UK's screen industries - animation, film, games, television including children's TV and high-end drama, VFX and immersive technology. We work across the whole of the country to ensure that UK screen has access now, and in the future, to the skills and talent needed for continued success. 

The BFI is the UK’s lead organisation for film, television and the moving image. It is a cultural charity that:

  • Curates and presents the greatest international public programme of world cinema for audiences; in cinemas, at festivals and online
  • Cares for the BFI National Archive – the most significant film and television archive in the world
  • Actively seeks out and supports the next generation of filmmakers
  • Works with Government and industry to make the UK the most creatively exciting and prosperous place to make film internationally

Founded in 1933, the BFI is a registered charity governed by Royal Charter. The BFI Board of Governors is chaired by Josh Berger CBE.


Back to press releases