Skills warning over new production stats

Gareth at work © Curtis Baker

ScreenSkills welcomes the figures demonstrating strong international investment in film and high-end television – generating a 30% uplift for the UK economy with record production spend of £3.6 billion.

However, we have some concerns about the near halving of investment in British independent films and the consequent impact on skills and training opportunities in the UK.

Gareth Ellis-Unwin, ScreenSkills head of film and animation, said: “In the main, the figures are positive news. However, a 45 per cent drop in spend on UK independent film production does have ramifications for skills and training in the industry. Historically, the independent sector has been the training ground and progression route for so many in the industry

“Fewer indie films affects the number and range of opportunities for people to get in and progress. They can promote people into more senior roles more quickly than bigger films where the cost of production is so high that a long list of credits is regarded as reducing the risk of hiring someone. Aside from the important cultural value in independent films, we do think the vital role in they play in developing talent should be discussed.”

He added: “I would never have got my break as a 1st AD if it had not been for an independent film – Trinity in 2003 – saying that I was ready to make the move. That would not have happened on a bigger studio picture.”

Following a 13-year career as a first assistant director, Gareth  made six independent films as a producer including The King’s Speech which remains the highest grossing independent UK film.

The full set of production statistics just released by the BFI can be found here.

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