How Lost Boys and Fairies Supported Welsh HETV Talent

New BBC drama Lost Boys and Fairies is winning plaudits from audiences and critics alike. The heartfelt series follows the story of a young gay couple as they are forced to reckon with their own issues while navigating the path to adoption. 

Already an award-winner at this year’s Seriencamp festival, the Duck Soup Films production highlighted the breadth of screen talent working below the line in Wales. In addition, by contributing to the High-end TV Skills Fund, the show served as an example of how the Fund works in collaboration with industry to support the sector and develop its workforce.

Find out more about ScreenSkills support in Wales

Contributions made by productions like Lost Boys and Fairies are invested back into the industry, used to fund training targeted at reaching the areas where it will have the greatest impact.

It’s a key relationship and one that is crucial for the industry, says Adam Knopf, producer of Lost Boys and Fairies and member of the High-end TV Skills Council: “Without the investment we are unable to keep supporting schemes that are implemented by those working in the HETV industry. These are courses and schemes decided by the industry for the industry that tackle the crew skills shortages directly. It is very efficient and effective.”

It allows the Fund to provide opportunities for those at all stages of their career to get the necessary training and hands-on experience they need to take that vital next step in their journey. Through programmes supported and developed by the Fund, the set of Lost Boys and Fairies was soon home to a number of candidates on placements from these initiatives. 

Two men share a smile while sitting outside

"Lost Boys and Fairies was my first break into the industry as an AD trainee,” says Jess Pryce. She received a placement via the First Break programme, a pre-new entrant inclusivity programme which aims to de-mystify entry into the TV industry for individuals who otherwise would most likely never consider the industry is open as a career path to them. She said the experience of working on LBAF is one she’s unlikely to ever forget. “The passion, creativity, and commitment from both cast and crew was lovely to see first-hand. It allowed my confidence to grow and skills to flourish, which allowed me to establish myself and make connections within the industry sector.”

James Skinner was another who received placement via the programme, working as a production trainee. He said: “First break was genuinely a life changing experience for me. It gave me my first proper insight into just how diverse and multi-faceted this industry is. It showed me that there are more career paths available to me than I had previously thought. I was instantly welcomed onto the team and enjoyed learning more about production while also being invited to contribute.”

All of our production and AD team did the Access e-learning. We also made it mandatory for all crew to do the Work Well Series.

Adam Knopf, producer, Lost Boys and Fairies

It wasn’t just new entrants who received placements on production either, as Adam explains: “It was all the other schemes the production engaged with which is rather amazing. In particular we had three candidates on the Wales specific scheme implemented by the Wales Working Group.”

This included a Developing Heads of Department initiative and is how Peter Darney landed a role on production. "The programme was completely career changing,” he says. “I got to shadow a director working with a team at the top of their game, creating world-class drama. The breadth of experience I gained has given me the confidence to know I can lead my own teams through whatever challenges production might throw at me."

A man kneels down to speak to a child outside a park

A Wales Trainee Script Editor initiative landed Sophie Warren a placement on the production, working on the show and across the development slate for Duck Soup Cardiff. Since the show she has joined the development team at Triongl - a Cardiff based drama production company, further cementing those industry ties and how these training programmes are developed to have a practical impact for candidates.

There was a lighting trainee too, Denisa Penuic receiving her placement via the Skills Funded Electrical Trainee programme. The initiative was launched to support electrical trainees from under-represented groups and provides them with funds for short course qualifications and work-based learning.

Share My Telly Job, a job share initiative that responds to the growing demand for flexibility in the workplace, was supported by the Fund in 2021. It pairs similarly matched crew in roles that they then divided between them. Speaking of how the initiative helped production runners Nuno Mendes and Harriet Dooner, producer Adam said: “We teamed the pair up to help them both gain experience in the production off and a credit. Nuno was unable to work a full week due to family commitments and without the scheme would not have been able to get his foot in the door.”  

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Find out training opportunities supported by the Fund

For the Lost Boys and Fairies production, the ScreenSkills connection didn’t stop there, as Adam confirms: “We made it mandatory for all HODs to do the leadership and management course.” This online learning module forms part of the suite of e-learning available to all on the ScreenSkills website. One such series, Work Well, was designed to give those in the screen industries the tools to help create a better, more welcoming and inclusive place to work and was another part of the ScreenSkills e-learning made mandatory for all crew members on the production.

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Discover the range of e-learning modules

A man puts his hand on another man's knee as the pair sit next to a smiling woman

The production’s enthusiasm for programmes developed by the Fund ensured there were plenty of other experienced crew working on set too.

Leaders of Tomorrow is a three-year inclusion programme focused on providing comprehensive and tailored support to mid-level professionals working in HETV. A total of five candidates from the programme, all from Wales, received placements on Lost Boys and Fairies, aiding their career journey and providing valuable stepping-up experience. Art director Daniel Kennedy was one of them. "Daniel has built an incredible list of credits over the years,” says Adam, who nominated him for the Leaders of Tomorrow programme. “I felt that Leaders of Tomorrow would provide Daniel with access to mentoring and training in department management, budgeting and technical elements, each supporting his progression towards being one of Wales' future production designers."

These programmes, each developed and funded by the HETV Skills Fund, helped almost 20 people begin – or further progress within – the industry via production placements. They provided vital hands-on experience to candidates at every stage of their career and offered valuable opportunities for those working in Wales.

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