Eloise Singer on a ScreenSkills bursary

Eloise Singer’s varied career has ranged from food stylist on Murder on the Orient Express to exec producing Billie Piper’s directorial debut Rare Beasts. And she is now adding virtual reality games developer to her CV thanks to support with a ScreenSkills bursary.

Having begun her career as a production assistant at Pinewood Studios, she was able to utilise her training as a chef to work as a food stylist - on projects including Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express and Will Ferrell’s Holmes & Watson - as well as moving up the production ladder. 

Currently she is juggling executive producing Pierce Brosnan film The Last Rifleman - the story inspired by World War II veteran Bernard Jordan’s escape from his care home to attend the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy - as well as working on a true crime drama in Jersey with XYZ Films.

On top of that Eloise is developing a virtual reality game with the working title Night of Succession about the famous Opium Wars – disputes between Britain and the Chinese Qing Dynasty about illegal opium trade.

She is also making a film about the subject but wanted to test the scope of the intellectual property across territories.

As Eloise explains: “We’re developing a game which is a kind of cross-cultural game between China and the UK about the Opium Wars, to bring awareness to what happened… we’ve teamed up with Goldsmiths University, who are at the forefront or AI and VR.”

The game is based on the life of a Chinese prostitute who became the most powerful pirate of all time, commanding over 70,000 men, and is being made in conjunction with a new company set up by the former head of Sony in London and with the help of a grant from Creative England.

In order to make the project Eloise, who is based in the South West and set up her own company Singer Films in 2017, needed a VR headset and laptop: ScreenSkills came to her aid.

“The ScreenSkills bursary scheme is quite well known to help people get kit. One of my friends who’s a producer mentioned it might be a good one to do so I applied.”

The process of applying for the £2,000 needed was swift and the fact the money was awarded to her gave Eloise’s project additional cachet, as she says: “I think because ScreenSkills is so well established and quite a rock and well-known in the industry, just being able to say we have support from it for the project I think really helped.”

She went on: “It was the idea of being able to expand into a new medium that enabled us to get the money from ScreenSkills. I’m a film producer and have never done anything in VR before.”

According to Eloise the opportunity to create partnerships with Creative England and Goldsmiths and her branching out from film to VR interested ScreenSkills but also the fact it meant she could continue to create during the coronavirus pandemic and “keep things afloat during this time.”

“Because of Covid, it is the perfect time to be building a VR game prototype – we have designed a 15-20 minute experience -  because we can work remotely, so we’re in production now for the game and we’re all working remotely. It’s great, I would totally recommend applying for a bursary.”

ScreenSkills bursaries are supported by BFI-awarded National Lottery funds, by industry contributions to the Film, High-end TV, Children’s TV and Animation Skills Funds and through money from the Television Skills Fund targeted at improving diversity and inclusivity. If you enjoyed reading about Eloise's experience, why not share your story with us and showcase your skills and experience.