Animation

The UK animation industry produces a wide range of quality films and programmes for audiences of all ages. Read on for information about the Animation Skills Fund which supports training and career development in animation.

Students, parents and teachers seeking more information about careers in the animation industry should visit Careers.

Mr Bean © Tiger Aspect

The key purpose of the Animation Skills Fund, formerly known as the animation levy, is to support the development of animation talent at all levels - bringing new entrants into the industry and advancing career development.

The fund was created in 2013 following the introduction of UK tax relief for the animation sector. It was agreed that any production utilising the tax credit would contribute to a fund managed by ScreenSkills.

Productions pay a voluntary contribution of 0.5% of their production budget spent in the UK into the fund. Contributions are capped at £43,900 per production (the cap increases each year in line with RPI). To maximise the opportunities you could benefit from, animation productions should contact ScreenSkills as soon as possible about contributing to the fund. Your commitment to the levy does not have to coincide with your application for the tax credit.

Now more than ever, it’s so important that we invest in UK skills development to ensure we can continue to deliver world-class animation and remain competitive in a global market

Paula Newport, Aardman Animations

“Now more than ever, it’s so important that we invest in UK skills development to ensure we can continue to deliver world-class animation and remain competitive in a global market. As an industry, we need to lead the way in being accountable for making this happen and as such, Aardman is proud to support the Animation Skills Fund.”  Paula Newport, Director, People & Culture, Aardman Animations.

Since 2013 the fund has raised more than £400,000, which has been invested in training and career development for the UK animation industry. Productions paying into the fund have included Early Man, Go Jetters, Miffy, Mr Bean: The Animated Series, Shaun the Sheep, The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Toot the Tiny Tugboat, Tree Fu Tom, and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, plus broadcasters including the BBC support the fund on both in-house and commissioned productions.

“BBC Children’s supports, champions and values the British animation industry – we have wonderful talent and studios on our doorstep and we believe supporting the Animation Skills Fund proactively helps to maintain and sustain the high standards of British animation.” Tony Reed
Genre Lead, BBC Children’s Animation & Puppetry

Decisions about how the funds are spent are made by the Animation Skills Council which is made up of industry leaders in the sector and includes representatives from the Animation UK skills group, who are key stakeholders.

What is the fund used for?

The industry contributions are invested in skills development for animation professionals and new entrants across the whole of the UK. Training and support programmes are delivered both in-house and externally by industry-recognised training providers with a view to develop and sustain a word-class animation workforce.

The best thing about this approach is that it allows collaboration to happen between studios across the country, to achieve what studios alone cannot do. The more that studios contribute to the fund, the more activities can be delivered that will help to evolve the workforce, enabling studios to be able to assemble amazing teams of highly skilled people. 

Initiatives being developed include storyboard and 2D animation training for industry professionals, a return-to-work scheme, and a series of masterclasses.

The Animation Skills Fund is sponsoring some animation-focused ScreenSkills’ Open Doors events. These networking sessions enable new entrants to get careers advice directly from industry experts. In addition, there will be some sessions organised specifically for freelancers already working in the animation sector, enabling them to seek advice from like-minded professionals and to help them to connect to employers.

Several projects are aimed at attracting new talent to the industry. The Animation Skills Fund in collaboration with IntoFilm, has commissioned lesson plans to introduce primary school students to careers opportunities in the animation industry. Investment in a back-to-school initiative will encourage approximately 300 early career industry professionals to return to their schools to talk about their job roles, the steps they took to break into the industry and what it is like to work in animation. A grant has also been awarded to 3Dami to train college and university students to run 3D animation workshops with secondary school children across the country.

To find out more about the work of the fund, take a look at some of our past and current programmes:

The Helen North Achieve Programme

For the last three years, Animated Women UK have run this intensive introduction to strategic career management for women at different stages of their career in VFX and animation. The programme addresses real challenges and barriers in order to help women fulfil their potential.

Participant Georgina Hurcombe at LoveLove Films said: “Being able to talk to like-minded women about issues that we all face and how to overcome them has been invaluable and inspiring. It’s was great to be able to speak to women from fantastic organisations such as DNEG, Disney and Blue Zoo. The mix of career stages also provided unique and valuable insight. Personally, it has also been really useful to hear what these women want in their own organisations and then think about whether I can apply any of these learnings at LoveLove Films.”

Manimation

The Children’s Media Conference have hosted the industry-focused conference Manimation in Manchester for the last four years. The conference is designed to share best practice between animation production companies, producers and freelancers and to aid the business skills development of animation professionals.

Visual Storyboarding for Animation

Lupus Films ran an intensive storyboarding course and a series of public masterclasses led by former Disney animator and storyboard artist Frank Gladstone in 2013 and 2014. Participants were trained in using Toon Boom Storyboard Pro software, worked on real animated TV series, and met with industry professionals. Most of the students went on to work in the industry as storyboard artists at the end of the course.

Bianca Ansems, who has since storyboarded for Cartoon Network and the Disney Channel, said: “Getting existing series scripts to work with was amazing as it trained us in applying our skills to these great scripts, particularly how to do very visual jokes. I loved the showcase at the end giving us an opportunity to meet professionals interested in story artists.”

For more information about the Animation Skills Fund or to apply for funding please email: abigail.addison@screenskills.com or sign up for the quarterly animation newsletter.