Short film contribution highlights value of Film Skills Fund

True Colours (c) Laura Cro

Contributions to the Film Skills Fund come in all sizes, ranging from box office tentpole releases to regional independent projects. While the Fund’s cap of 0.5% of a production’s budget is limited to £61,000, contributions from smaller-scaled productions are gratefully welcomed and equally important in the continued investment in the industry’s workforce.

ScreenSkills has received one such contribution from a production in Northern Ireland for the upcoming short film, True Colours. It was the smallest contribution to the fund of the year - and an indication of the fund’s importance across productions and an acknowledgement of the value it has in the sector.

Lisa Service produced the film, working with writer-director Aron Holden for the first time. She said: “Aron was actually the one that brought it to my attention. I came onto his project when he already had a budget in place. Northern Ireland Screen helped fund the short and are great at communicating different funds and career developments on their website.” 

She explained the decision to pay into the Skills Fund was based on their own experiences of the film industry and a knowledge of how difficult it can be to get funding for a project. “We both worked in other avenues and thought if we could help donate even a small amount then it would be paying it forward for the next person.” 

The project’s team contacted ScreenSkills explaining they had allocated for the contribution as part of the film’s budget and offered to pay the 0.5% cap recommended by the fund which amounted to £12.50. The fund’s management team were charmed by their offer.

Lisa explained why the contribution had been so important. “I think the fact that it can help fellow filmmakers, I believe we are a community of people that all want to encourage creativity. I think creativity more than ever is an important outlet for people and we should find ways to support that. 

“It can open up so many doors for fellow filmmakers. It will allow them to get a foot in the door or a first step into making their own short or develop skills. Skills development has been a massive area people are pursuing more at the minute. With the pandemic and people sitting still and out of work, the funds have allowed them to hon in on their craft.” 

Gareth Ellis-Unwin, Head of Film and Animation at ScreenSkills, said: “The Film Skills Fund is for productions of all sizes and while we greatly appreciate the support from large scale contributors, it’s heartening to see the recognition of its merit carried through to smaller budget productions. It’s true that all payments received go towards supporting future projects through the continued investments in the film industry and its workforce so we were delighted to hear about the contribution from True Colours. I can’t wait to see the finished film!”

The film, a dramatic piece centred on the theme of domestic violence, is in its final stages and Lisa and Aron are now planning its release. Lisa said: “True Colours is a film that has a story that we would not normally expect to witness. Aron has had a couple of friends in similar situations and I think drawing attention to the matter is important. We would hope to put it out into the festival circuit to raise awareness of the issue and how damaging it can be for people. We also hope that more people know it's ok to speak up and feel comfortable doing so if something doesn’t feel right.” 

Read more about the Film Skills Fund and find details on how to contribute.

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