Animation Skills Council support Manimation 2019 conference

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This year’s Manimation took place with support from the ScreenSkills Animation Skills Fund and included a roundtable hosted by our Skills Council Chair, Tom Box, on business skills development needs for studios.

The event hosted by the Children’s Media Conference at MediaCityUK in Salford in November saw 120 delegates attend sessions including developing IP for new platforms, successful international co-productions, working with creative agencies and how the industry could be more inclusive.

The roundtable discussion of business skills development needs for large and small studios across the UK also included participation from other members of the council and studios of various scales and locales. ScreenSkills Animation Production Liaison Executive Abigail Addison provided context to the Animation Skills Fund and the various programmes currently in development.

Tom Box, Co-founder and Managing Director of Blue-Zoo, and Chair of the Animation Skills Council said: “Hearing from the panel was invaluable for our plans going forward, as was the opportunity to discuss why supporting the Animation Skills Fund is so important and to be able to present the ambitions of the Skills Council to key people in the industry. Manimation is one of the only events where executives from the broadcasters and the heads of production come together in one room, and to have their feedback is key to developing our future plans.”

The roundtable participants discussed areas they wished they had been taught when they started out, including the fundamentals of how to set up a company, writing and negotiating contracts, basic accounting and how to cash flow a business, licensing design work, and essential HR guidance on how to deal with disputes and mental health issues in the workplace.

The speakers considered how to meet the needs of smaller studios, freelancers and those working outside of the cities. There were also discussions on working with existing networks and institutions, how studios could integrate training at the end of production, and virtual learning for developing skills of the sector.  

One suggestion that arose from the panel was to create a similar model to Animated Women UK’s Achieve programme, where a knowledge exchange programme offering mentoring support to participants working in children’s media could be established.

Three roundtable participants that had participated in the ScreenSkills-supported Achieve programme - Georgina Hurcombe, Managing Director of LoveLove Films, Kath Shackleton, Producer at Fettle Animation and Divya Sacheva, Creative Executive at The Walt Disney Company - all spoke of the value the programme had on catalysing their careers.

Overall the roundtable received positive feedback. Katie Lander, Learning and Development UK Lead at Brown Bag Films in Manchester and member of the Animation Skills Council, said: “It was valuable to have everyone’s insight and intelligence into how the skills arena looks in the diverse studios they run and where there is room for ScreenSkills to offer them support. It also gave me encouragement that our training offer at Brown Bag is on the right track.”

Kath Shackleton, producer at Fettle Animation in Yorkshire, said: “Manimation was a brilliant, helpful and enjoyable day. Such a great opportunity to catch up with people, connect with commissioners and to tune into what is going on in the industry. It’s so important to be able to link what is going on in your studio with the bigger picture.”

The recorded discussion can be viewed here

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