UK’s First Centre of Screen Excellence Launches in Leeds

With special guest, BAFTA Award winning writer Sally Wainwright

Screen Yorkshire, The National Film and Television School (NFTS), ScreenSkills and the BFI today launch the UK’s first Centre of Screen Excellence: Yorkshire (CoSE:Y) in Leeds. The event, which takes place this afternoon at Archive, Prime Studios in Leeds, marks a major milestone in the nationwide drive to develop and support thriving and representative screen industry centres outside of London and the South East.

New BFI Chief Executive, Ben Roberts, introduced today’s event in Leeds, alongside Centre of Screen Excellence: Yorkshire partners; Seetha Kumar, CEO, ScreenSkills, Sally Joynson, Chief Executive Screen Yorkshire and Jon Wardle, Director: NFTS. Centre of Screen Excellence: Yorkshire is supported with National Lottery funding awarded by the BFI and is part of the BFI’s Future Film Skills strategy, the majority of which is being delivered by ScreenSkills.

BAFTA Award winning screenwriter Sally Wainwright delivered a keynote masterclass to the first Centre of Screen Excellence: Yorkshire students, who today embark on training courses in film and TV crafts, including construction, costume, grip, hair and make-up, lighting, and production assistant for scripted. The courses are designed to respond to increased demand across the UK’s booming film and television industries, particularly in Yorkshire. They will offer students a clear pathway into the industry, developing skills and crucially providing work placements with local industry partners including ITV and ProVision. 

BAFTA Award winning writer Sally Wainwright says: “The launch of these first craft courses are such an important initiative and it’s just brilliant for Yorkshire. There is so much creativity and passion in the region and I’m excited that it will open up many opportunities for local talent – it’s a powerful combination and the screen industry will benefit from it hugely.”

Ben Roberts, Chief Executive of the BFI, said: “This is an important part of our wider strategy to help train a wider workforce for the UK’s rapidly growing industry. For people in Yorkshire, this Centre offers a very real career pathway into much needed jobs, and also creates a blueprint for further centres around the UK - to ensure other regions can effectively capitalise on the production industries’ increasing demand for skills”

Seetha Kumar, CEO ScreenSkills, said: “The drive to commission and produce more film and television outside of London and the South East has to be matched with an investment in developing skills and talent on the ground. The Centre of Screen Excellence: Yorkshire is an innovative response to making sure that building capacity in the nations and regions creates opportunities for a greater diversity of talent to enter and progress in the industry.

“These new courses, along with other support offered by our mentoring and bursaries initiatives, help lay the groundwork for enabling Yorkshire and Humber to expand as a home for film and TV production. It will be exciting and rewarding to follow our new recruits over coming months and we wish them all the very best.’’

The courses will be delivered by world leading film school the NFTS, in partnership with Leeds College of Building, University Centre Leeds, Keighley College and the BECTU Grips and Crane Technicians Branch. The Centre of Screen Excellence: Yorkshire is also providing mentoring, bursaries and continuous professional development courses. The range of activity is designed to address under-representation in the industry by supporting people from all backgrounds to develop successful careers.

Jon Wardle, NFTS Director said: “Today’s launch is a really exciting milestone that will deliver lasting change to the industry and the NFTS is proud to play our part. We are fully committed to ensuring the demand for highly trained creative workers in Yorkshire and the nurturing of future talent in the region is met with the delivery of these world class courses.”

Sally Joynson, Chief Executive at Screen Yorkshire says: ‘’It is fantastic news that Yorkshire has been chosen as the base for this important new initiative - one that will really push open the door for more diverse, representative talent from across the regions to train and enter the screen industries and build capacity outside of London and the South East. There’s been a lot of talk about diversity recently, but it’s action that’s needed and this is a prime example of partners working together to make that happen - and I’m proud that it is taking place here in Yorkshire.’’

Centre of Screen Excellence: Yorkshire is an innovative collaboration that brings together local and national partners. It addresses the need for more highly trained crews to service the UK’s thriving screen industries. Figures released by the BFI last month revealed another record-breaking year for film and high-end television production in 2019, contributing a 30% uplift for the economy, making it one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK. Yorkshire was identified as the location for the UK’s first Centre of Screen Excellence due to the significant increase in the levels of production and growth in the number of screen businesses in the area, seeing the region emerge as one of the most prosperous for film and TV outside of London and the South East.

Centre of Screen Excellence: Yorkshire places the region at the heart of a national drive to create new opportunities for individuals wishing to develop careers in the film and television production industries. It builds on the work of Screen Yorkshire, that has helped to establish Yorkshire as one of the most dynamic and transformative regions for the screen industries. The region has recently hosted high-end TV productions including Gentleman Jack, Ackley Bridge, Victoria, Zero Chill, All Creatures Great and Small and The English Game as well as feature films The Duke, Downton Abbey, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, Ali and Ava and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.

Yorkshire’s popularity as a filming destination is set to increase, with a major new film and television studio facility and Sky Studio’s Innovation Hub both opening in Leeds in 2020, hot on the heels of Channel 4’s new National HQ launching in 2019. Centre of Screen Excellence: Yorkshire will support this growth ensuring much needed crew are trained to be set-ready for in-demand roles; with the long-term ambition to establish the region as a nationally recognised centre for training in the screen industries.

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