Talent from under-represented groups to benefit from ScreenSkills-funded mentoring

Image: Producer, director and writer Steve Kelly (right) mentored senior producer and director Abdullai Adejumo (left) in a previous mentoring programme

More than 250 people from groups currently under-represented in the screen industries and working in areas of skills shortage are to be supported with mentoring thanks to £130,375 of funding from ScreenSkills.

Ten partnerships with other screen-related bodies will provide the mentoring opportunities as part of the ScreenSkills Mentoring Programme which is supported by the BFI awarding National Lottery funds as part of the BFI’s Future Film Skills Strategy.

Three of the new initiatives will support nearly 60 deaf and disabled mentees. They are Beacon Film’s Future Vision, TripleC DANC’s mentoring programme for deaf, disabled and neurodivergent writers and directors and Media Trust & ScreenSkills Reframing Disability Mentoring Programme in partnership with BBC 50:50. All of the mentors on the programme with Media Trust will be disabled also.

The Bristol-based Wildscreen Emerging Talent programme, which will also recruit from Wales, will aim to increase diversity in wildlife film and natural history, supporting emerging talent who have missed out on in person opportunities because of Covid and connecting industry with new talent eager to enter the industry. It will prioritise individuals in roles in skills shortage areas.

In Scotland, the Glasgow Film Theatre New Talent Mentoring Scheme will be aimed at emerging writers, directors and producers across film, HETV and animation from under-represented backgrounds. There will be a particular focus on producers due to a lack of early to mid-level producers in Scotland with consequent impact on opportunities for emerging writers and directors.

Funding to Creative Access, which works with young people from groups under-represented in the creative industries, will support 50 mentees in animation, film, games, TV and VFX over six months. In addition, they will be signposted to relevant training and employment opportunities, including CV consultations, employability workshops and masterclasses as well as paid roles in line with their interests and career aspirations.

The Rise – Women in Broadcast mentoring programme will work to support more women working across the broadcast media and technology sector and in particular within these engineering and technical roles.

NextGen Prospects v2.0 will focus on women outside of London and the South East and minority ethnic candidates in games, VFX and animation, while the Navi Games Mentorship Programme will target early stage and experienced game industry professionals as part of Game Anglia’s mission to grow the games industry in the East of England.

Jane Saunders, ScreenSkills mentoring programme manager, said: “We know that mentoring can help build confidence and establish networks which provide invaluable support, particularly for many people from groups currently under-represented in the screen industries. It is great to be working with like-minded partners who are committed, as we are, to making mentoring a really useful part of professional career development.”

Phil Attfield, co-founder of NextGen Skills Academy, said: “NextGen is proud to be working with ScreenSkills as part of their continued support for mentoring programmes. Working with ScreenSkills feels like a genuine collaboration, we are all working towards a shared goal of putting a framework in place to inspire mentees, support career progression, and increase the entry of underrepresented groups into the screen industries. These programmes also deliver a legacy and pipeline of mentees who have had that positive mentoring experience, and who will hopefully go on to become mentors for the next generation of talent in our industries.”

Emma Van Der Putten, industry coordinator at Glasgow Film Theatre, said: “We are delighted for the support of ScreenSkills in the continued development of our New Talent Mentorship Scheme, supporting emerging Scottish talent from under-represented backgrounds. Mentees from our pilot year have already shown fantastic career development, with access to Glasgow Film Festival’s networks of contacts and resources. 

“Our continued dedication to diversity and inclusion is a value shared by our partners at ScreenSkills, and we are excited to open applications for this year’s New Talent Mentorship Scheme and discover and support the amazing new talent that Scotland has to offer.' 

Carrie Wootten, managing director, Rise said: “We are delighted to be partnering with ScreenSkills and embarking on this new mentoring series, supporting young, talented woman as they take their next steps towards building a career in the UK screen industry.

“I would like to thank ScreenSkills for their incredible support and generosity which has enabled us to add another six-month Mentoring Scheme to the 2021/22 Programme, which is needed now more than ever to support young women during these times.”

Melissa Johns,TripleC Co-Creative Lead and disabled actor, said: "At TripleC we're delighted to be working with ScreenSkills to offer a new mentoring programme for deaf, disabled and neurodivergent writers and directors.  Our SkillUp programme will enable these creatives to develop themselves and their practice, strengthening inclusion and representation in the sector."

All programmes will aim to meet a minimum of two diversity targets. In addition, at least 50% of mentees will be from outside of London and the South East. It is expected that collectively the partners will strive to meet all ScreenSkills inclusion targets including LGBT and socio-economic disadvantage.

The programmes will run in 2021-22 alongside ScreenSkills own mentoring matching programme and 10 other programmes previously funded. They include Bectu Cymru Mentoring 4 Screen Project, FilmMakers25 Mentoring Programme in Bradford, ScreenSkills ENGAGE in association with ThinkBIGGER! for deaf/disabled talent and Screen Northants Academy Mentoring Programme. A second iteration of the ScreenSkills Crossroads Mentoring Programme, delivered by DV Talent in collaboration with The Talent Manager, will start recruitment shortly for people looking to move up in their career,  change their role or return after a career break.

The ScreenSkills community of best practice also includes non-funded programmes that are supported with free ScreenSkills training, resources and consultancy. Organisations running their own mentoring and wanting to join the community which is committed to offering quality mentoring, can email mentoring@screenskills.com for more information.

Building on the experience of delivering mentoring over the pandemic, many programmes will continue to have an online element. Partners have indicated that this allows them to be more inclusive. More partnerships are expected to be announced shortly.

Applications are currently open for new mentees seeking a mentor through ScreenSkills' own programme. The ScreenSkills Mentoring Programme seeks to support mentees from under-represented groups, as well as tackling skills gaps as identified by BFI and ScreenSkills research. We are particularly interested in hearing from mentees based outside of London and the South East.  Go to Become a mentee for further information and apply.

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