Gareth Ellis-Unwin reflects on his year as Head of Film

Gareth reveals why his move from producer to heading up skills development for film has been an eye-opener.

Grips for Heroes | photo by Emma Edwards

As we near the end of the year, I’m finding myself reflecting on my first ten months as Head of Film at ScreenSkills. I have found that the breadth and range of the activities that ScreenSkills is involved in is quite an eye-opener and I firmly believe we have more to do to explain our work to the film community. So so much more than trainees….

ScreenSkills as an organisation has transformed in the past year with a renewed focus on the screen industries, encapsulated by a rebranding exercise, a new website that involved a complete revamp of the information about careers in screen and a tighter focus on who we are and what we do.

It takes time to set up structures and proper processes to effect real change but I am pleased that new initiatives have been evaluated and are underway. The Grips for Heroes programme and the commissioning of a Centre of Excellence in Yorkshire are two examples.

It was great to be able to welcome our 2018/19 cohort of Trainee Finder trainees to their induction days and to see how readily the production community is offering the opportunity to train up the next generation of crew. Since April, over 90% of our cohort have received at least one film placement and 44% have received at least two. Recruitment for the next cohort of trainees is under way and applications closed with over 1,100 individuals chasing 150 places for 2019/20. 

In June we invited the training community to our first Training Provider Congress in Manchester and the discussions from that day informed the offer this autumn of over £600,000 of funding for continuing professional development (CPD) programmes, drawn from National Lottery funds awarded by the BFI and contributions from productions in the UK to the Film Skills Fund. Ultimately over 1,400 individuals will receive training under this suite of initiatives over the next four months.

Contributions to the Film Skills Fund hit a record level of £938,000 in 2017/18. The films made by these productions continue to make their mark across the world with awards for both above and below the line talent. Dunkirk and Finest Hour won Academy Awards and BAFTAs, I Am Not a Witch won best British Debut at the BAFTAs, Calibre was Best British Film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, 19 films that contributed to the Film Skills Fund were screened at the BFI London Film Festival, they received 82 BIFA nominations and 19 awards, voted for by selection panels who undertook ScreenSkills-commissioned unconscious bias training. The Favourite, Mary Poppins Returns, Stan and Ollie and Isle of Dogs are in the frame for Golden Globes and The Favourite leads the Critics’ Choice nominations. The 2019 festival circuit is already hotting up with Sundance selecting Dirty God, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, The Last Tree and The Souvenir for screening. All four films contributed to the Film Skills Fund and are therefore supporting skills and training in UK film. 

But it's also important to recognise our other partners and funders, notably the BFI, awarding National Lottery funds, and Arts Council England. 

I’m continually asked by individuals in the industry about how they can best help and my answer is straightforward – offer to be a mentor, give a work opportunity to a candidate from an under-represented demographic, ensure your company completes our forthcoming Employer Survey and that your production contributes to the Film Skills Fund. Find out more about our Giving Back initiative here.

With that last point in mind I’d like to offer my personal thanks to all the productions that contribute 0.5% of their UK core expenditure (up to a maximum contribution of £41,800) into the ScreenSkills Film Skills Fund. Your contributions go towards supporting the broad range of ScreenSkills activity, and your continuing support is vital in our work. I want to recognise the following productions that have contributed since April 2015:

Paid in 2018/19 (to 30 November)
An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn
• Brakes
• Caught in the Crossfire
• Crazy Cat Ladies
• Eternal Beauty
• Evelyn
• Even When I Fall
• Gareth Jones
• Girl Untitled
• Grant and Her Friends
• Horrible Histories
• How to Build a Girl
• Irene's Ghost
• Lean on Pete
• Little Joe
• Looted
• Love
• Love Me to Death
• Make-Up
• Maleficent 2
• Mari
• Monsoon
• Nuclear
• Perfect Ten
• Sick(er)
• Six Minutes to Midnight
• Solo: A Star Wars Story
• Sorry We Missed You
• The Good Liar
• The Hippies
• The Invention
• The Nest
• Time Trial
• Troubles
• Untitled Project
• Wonder Woman 2
• You Were Never Really Here

Paid in 2017/18
• A Deal With the Universe
• A High Window
• Africa's Premier League
• Aladdin
• American Animals
• Arcadia
• Artemis Fowl
• Avengers: Infinity War
• Baghdad in My Shadow
• Beats
• Becoming Animal
• Benjamin
• Boyz in the Woods
• Bruno
• Bucket
• Bulgers
• Camlo
• Christopher Robin
• Colette
• Daniel Thomas
• Darkest Hour
• Darkness Visible
• Denmark
• Dirty God
• Finding Shakespeare
• Gwen
• Hear My Voice
• Ilkley
• In Fabric
• Judy
• Last Summer
• Make Me Up
• Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
• Mary Queen of Scots
• Mission: Impossible - Fallout
• My Grandfather the Spy
• Of My Kin
• One Million American Dreams
• Only You
• Orson Welles: A Portrait of the Artist.
• Out of Blue
• Outlaw King
• Overlord
• Pond Life
• Queerama
• Red Joan
• Scarborough
• Sparrow
• Tell it to the Bees
• The Boy who Harnessed the Wind
• The Death and Life of John F. Donovan
• The Dig
• The Hard Stop
• The One and Only Ivan
• The Sheriff
• The Souvenir
• The Visitor
• The White Crow
• Tit for Tat
• Tolkien
• Two for Joy
• Under the Wire (Escape from Homs)
• Undercliffe
• Undergods
• Vanished
• Versus: The Life and Films of Ken Loach
• Victoria and Abdul
• Viking Destiny
• Vita and Virginia
• Vitello
• VS.
• We Don't Talk About Love
• Wild Rose
• Yuli
• Zero

Paid in 2016/17
• Allied
• American Honey
• Angelina & Charlize
• Anna and the Apocalypse
• Apostasy
• Beast
• Been So Long
• Best: The Legend
• Breathe
• Calibre
• Demain Tout Commence (Two Is a Family)
• Dependent
• Donkeyote
• Don't Look Down
• Dumbo
• Dunkirk
• Earth: One Amazing Day
• Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
• Fighting with My Family
• First and Only
• Fly Away (working title)
• Generation Revolution
• Ghost Stories
• I Am Not A Witch
• I Go Wild
• Journey's End
• Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
• Justice League
• Malevolent
• Mary Poppins Returns
• My Cousin Rachel
• Nutcracker and the Four Realms
• Oceans Giant Screen
• On Chesil Beach
• Peterloo
• Pin Cushion
• Possum
• Postcards from London
• Ray & Liz
• Ready Player One
• Real Gods Require Blood
• Saving Santa
• Stan and Ollie
• The Aftermath
• The Big Day
• The Children Act
• The Climb
• The Confession: Living the War on Terror
• The Devil Outside
• The Favourite
• The Greasy Strangler
• The Human Touch
• The Levelling
• The Violators
• Transformers: The Last Knight
• Tupperware Party
• War On Everyone
• Wave Goodbye to Dinosaurs
• Where Hands Touch
• Williams
• Yardie
• Zoo

Paid in 2015/16:
• 66 Days
• A United Kingdom
• Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
• All For Show
• American Interior
• Assassin's Creed
• Atomic - Living in Dread and Promise
• B&B
• Bad Day for the Cut
• Bird
• Blackbird
• Bridget Jones' Baby
• Chamber
• Daphne
• Dark River
• David Brent - Life on the Road
• Deep Water
• Denial
• Doctor Strange
• Don't Knock Twice
• Fanny Lye Deliver'd
• Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
• Florence Foster Jenkins
• Free Fire
• God's Own Country
• Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami
• Hostage to the Devil
• How To Change The World
• I, Daniel Blake
• Introducing Brian
• Jason Bourne
• Jawbone
• Journeyman
• Lady Macbeth
• Lost In France
• Love is All
• Mama Hen
• Mindhorn
• Modern Life is Rubbish
• Moon Dogs
• My Nazi Legacy
• Night Will Fall
• Old Boys
• School In The Cloud
• Sense Of An Ending
• Star Wars: The Last Jedi
• Stockholm My Love
• Swallows and Amazons
• The Conjuring 2
• The Devil's Doorway
• The Girl With All the Gifts
• The Library (Y Ilyfyrgell)
• The Sky Trembles and the Earth Is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers
• Their Finest
• Time and Again
• Tommy's Honour
• Viceroy's House
• Walking With Dinosaurs: Prehistoric Planet 3D
• Wonder Woman
• You Can Tutu


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