Spotlight on... the East of England

The Phantom of the Open

You can’t make great film, TV and animation without investing in the people. This is why ScreenSkills is committed to delivering training, resources and opportunities across the whole of the UK. This month our focus is the East of England.

Seetha Kumar, ScreenSkills CEO, said: “We are proud to support the screen industries in the East of England in close collaboration with partners. Thanks to productions that contribute to our skills funds and the BFI, who award us National Lottery funds, we can run training for professionals at all careers stages.”

PRODUCTIONS, PROGRAMMES AND PLACEMENTS

Covering the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire, the East of England’s varied landscape has lent itself as the backdrop for a number of notable film and television productions that have offered training opportunities in collaboration with ScreenSkills.

Ipswich-shot World War drama, The War Below, telling the true tale of miners recruited to burrow bombs behind enemy lines, saw seven trainees work across sound, hair and make-up and the art department thanks to the ScreenSkills film Trainee Finder paid placement programme for new entrants.

The upcoming sporting underdog story, The Phantom of the Open, starring Mark Rylance as hapless golfer Maurice Flitcroft, also paired with seven trainees. Placements included roles in costume, camera and an assistant director position for Kyle Graham-Rainford, who credits the programme with giving him his first break in the industry. “Where I’m from, not many people I know are in the film industry, so it was initially very hard to get contacts to get a foot in the door. ScreenSkills helped me overcome that barrier through the film Trainee Finder programme. Now I’m working as an assistant director trainee on a Marvel film!”

2021 proved a popular 12 months for high-end TV production in the region. Netflix’s royal drama, The Crown – a contributor to the HETV Skills Fund – saw both Ely Cathedral and Newmarket racecourse take starring roles. The latest series arrives on screens later this year and the production welcomed two sound trainees on set as well as a further two from ScreenSkills’ pilot electrical trainee programme.

The initiative sought to provide participants with the training and work opportunities needed to develop a career in the field. One of the trainees, Emma Goldsmith, said the programme allowed her to gain new qualifications while also receiving vital, paid production experience.

The Sceptered Isle, Sam Mendes’ take on the tumultuous past year of British politics starring Kenneth Brannagh as Boris Johnson grappling with the effects of Coronavirus, was filmed across the region and had a production coordinator trainee on set through the high-end TV Trainee Finder programme. The production also provided an opportunity for a crew member to step up to a production manager role with support from ScreenSkills’ Make a Move programme, an initiative designed to progress careers across production roles.

CAREERS AND MENTORING:

As part of Game Anglia’s mission to grow the games industry in the East of England, ScreenSkills funded the The ScreenSkills Navee Games Mentorship Programme in association with Game Anglia. The six-month mentorship programme is supporting 30 early-stage game industry professionals by pairing them with experienced industry mentors and developing a personal growth plan for career development.

Chris Filip, co-founder of Game Anglia said, "Game Anglia is honoured to be working with ScreenSkills to deliver the Navee Games Mentorship Programme. Through it, we continue our mission to help grow and highlight the amazing and diverse games industry professionals who are based in the East of England and connect them with the wider UK games industry through a programme designed for meaningful connections, growth and accountability."

A collaboration focussed on the big screen, ScreenSkills Mentoring in association with Screen Northants Academy has been aimed at those living in or within reasonable distance of Northamptonshire across the East counties who are considered at an early or experienced stage in their careers in any film crew role.

The initiative pairs successful applicants with an industry mentor in an appropriate field for monthly mentoring sessions over a six-month period and aims to offer participants the opportunity to take their screen careers to the next level.

In the summer of 2021 ScreenSkills, in collaboration with Norfolk Screen, hosted an Open Doors event for those in Norfolk looking to work in the screen industry. The night saw a panel of industry practitioners discuss the working opportunities across film and television and highlighting the skills required.

Craig Higgins at Norfolk Screen, said: “The chair, panel and attendees found it really helpful and most importantly it allowed those in the region an opportunity to learn who they need to speak with in regards opportunities.”

Two ScreenSkills employability toolkit workshops at Norwich University of the Arts allowed both game and film students from the region to receive practical tips on entering the industry, what to expect on their first job and how to seek out the most suitable opportunities.

ScreenSkills Select endorses and enhances screen courses that develop industry ready students. Last year they held a employability workshop for the East of England as well as a panel discussion that saw industry professionals offer their advice to prospective new entrants on best practice and how to make the leap from studying to working in the industry.

In 2021, Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire became home to the Centre of Screen Excellence at Elstree Screen Arts Academy. Following the launch of first Centre of Screen Excellence in Yorkshire in 2019, ScreenSkills joined forces with Elstree Screen Arts Academy, Elstree Film Studios and the National Film and Television School to create the new screen training academy.

The centre will offer creative and technical traineeships in areas of skills need, delivering courses in costume, grip, hair and make-up, lighting and production assistant that were developed with industry practitioners.

A further collaboration saw ScreenSkills partner with WarnerMedia and Netflix for an innovative apprenticeship initiative where apprentices are working on some of the biggest productions in the UK at the moment. The pilot programme will train 20 apprentices as production assistants and assistant production accountants across both studios’ upcoming slate.

At the pilot’s summer launch Kevin Trehy, Managing Director, Warner Bros. Pictures London and Executive Vice President, Physical Production, Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, said: “Our long-established partnership with ScreenSkills is invaluable, as are the unprecedented opportunities availed through this pilot programme. It’s incredibly exciting to be supporting this diverse group of apprentices as they embark on careers in the entertainment industry.”

We continue to further relationships across all sectors of the industry and look forward to more fruitful collaborations across the East of England that provide the training and opportunities to help develop the industry through an improved workforce.

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