How the National Lottery is helping build UK screen

Networking at a mentoring event in Cardiff in July 2019

Contributions from film and television productions and broadcasters are crucial in enabling ScreenSkills to carry out its work. And so are National Lottery funds, awarded by the BFI under its Future Film Skills strategy.

A range of support for the industry is supported by National Lottery investment, from the ScreenSkills Mentoring Network to management of ScreenSkills bursaries as well as ScreenSkills Select, the process of using expert evaluators to identify college and university courses relevant to working in the industry. Some training courses are also funded this way.

Maia Pavord, from Abergavenny, undertook a course endorsed by ScreenSkills Select at the Iver Make-up Academy, which she described as “the most mind-opening education experience I have ever had”. Maia, who has a hearing impairment, had previously quit education but this time found the confidence to ask for the support she needed. “I wasn’t able to watch, listen and write notes at the same time, so the academy helped me by having a note taker assist me,” she said.

The investment supports those who have already established careers in the industry. Delphine Lievens and Ngozi Okali, for example, took part in the Bird’s Eye View Future Leaders in Distribution programme. “On the career front it got me ready for management and leadership, and on a personal level it improved my confidence and self-belief, equipping me to take the promotion in January and run with it,” Delphine said.

Other investment also helps people to transfer in skills needed by film and television. Accountant Sharon Soor was able to fulfil her original ambition to work in the screen industries with her first position on The Crown thanks to Skills to Screen which offered insight and information on transferring skills such as accountancy into the industry. “That gave me the navigation I needed. There’s no recruitment agency for this world that I knew of and I didn’t know you’d have to contact a line producer or anything like that,” Sharon said. 

The award of bursaries has helped others to fulfil their ambitions. In Northern Ireland, the purchase of a laptop enabled Keelan McRoberts to pursue his career as an art director, complemented with training also funded by the BFI/National Lottery. Engineering graduate Thomas Gude used a bursary to undertake a course, FEA Simulation, to help him calculate the risks of designing and running big special effects rigs more quickly.

Sound recordist Daniella Smith, a single mother based in Cambridgeshire, was able to buy a mixer. “I couldn't have continued without it,” she said. The bursaries scheme “creates a more diverse industry…allowing those from a poorer background to break in, as well as single parents, mothers, etc. It gives everyone a chance as opposed to saying, ‘If you can't afford it, tough, do something else.’ It's more like, ‘If you really want this, let us help you.’”

ScreenSkills works to support people from all backgrounds to get into UK screen and progress in it. Stephanie Castelete-Tyrrell, who has muscular dystrophy, has taken a number of courses to develop her skills, including Four Corners’ Making the Cut professional film and TV training for disabled people, covering all areas of production and freelancing, including an  introduction to Advanced Adobe Premiere Pro and Avid Editing. “I have found it difficult to get work in the industry, so thought it would help me get my foot in the door and build my confidence,” Stephanie said.

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