News

£300,000 secured to support new entrants into West of England’s film & high-end TV workforce

10th January 2024

A new skills training programme to support creatives looking to break into behind-the-camera roles on scripted film and high-end TV productions made in the West of England will launch later this month.

It comes after Bristol City Council’s Film Services have secured almost £300,000 (£299,818) from the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority, led by Metro Mayor Dan Norris, to deliver an industry-led West of England Film & High-End TV Workforce Development Programme to help creatives make their impact and find new career opportunities.

Delivered by The Bottle Yard Studios, Bristol UNESCO City of Film and Bristol Film Office – the three departments that make up Bristol City Council’s Film Services – the year-long programme will be open to regional participants from backgrounds currently underrepresented in the industry. Tailored training will demystify the world of scripted production and prepare trainees for entry level crew positions, with the aim of strengthening the pipeline of diverse local crew talent.

The investment comes at an important time of continued growth in the West of England’s film and high-end TV sector, with an estimated 21,000 new crew forecast to be needed across the UK by 2025.*

Metro Mayor Dan Norris, who leads the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority, said: “The West of England is fast becoming the Hollywood of the UK. Only recently, huge names like Disney+ have checked in to The Bottle Yard Studios’ new state-of-the-art and West of England Mayoral Authority-funded TBY2 facility – that’s a massive vote of confidence in our world-leading creative industries. But to keep up the pace, we need to tap into the extraordinary wealth of creative talent we have in the West. That means supporting them with world-class training to create that new home-grown creative generation for the sector.

“That’s why I’m delighted to be launching this programme fully funded by the Mayoral Combined Authority I lead, to give West of England residents the opportunities they need to thrive in film and high-end TV – something the West does so well. It gives a platform to the next generation of talent who will shape our region’s bright creative future. So, to those considering a career in film and TV: I want to hear from you!”

Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor of Bristol with responsibility for City Economy Finance & Performance said: “It’s brilliant to see Bristol’s thriving film and TV sector in the spotlight once again and we are delighted to secure funding to further support this vital industry, as well as the talented people who bring Bristol’s creative sectors to life.

“Bristol remains a world-leading hub for film and TV production, with some the industry’s biggest names choosing our city to produce their shows. Bristol’s new state-of-the-art film studio, The Bottle Yard’s TBY2 facility, has already played host to some of the UK’s most exciting productions since opening its doors in 2022 supported by £12 million in funding. However, as the sector continues to go from strength to strength, more targeted investment into training and developing the next generation of homegrown production talent is becoming increasingly necessary. This industry-led development programme will tap into the deep pool of creative talent here in the West Country and open new career pathways to underrepresented groups who may never have had the opportunity to take their first steps into this fast-growing sector.”

Laura Aviles, Head of Film, Bristol City Council says: “We’ve long made the case that targeted skills investment for scripted crew in our region is essential if we’re to develop this often-overlooked segment of the screen workforce. Film and high-end TV production levels in Bristol and the West have been increasing steadily in past years, supported by The Bottle Yard’s expansion and the region’s Film Offices facilitating more productions on location. With this success comes the opportunity to grow our local talent base – which is crucial when the existing crew base hits capacity, something we anticipate as we move on from last year’s US writers and actors strikes. We are delighted to have secured this funding to deliver a programme designed to help local entrants understand and navigate the fast-paced world of production they are not yet familiar with, to support them in identifying the right opportunities and having the confidence to step into industry roles that suit their talents and ambitions.”

Natalie Moore, Bristol UNESCO City of Film Manager, says: “Developing a local skills pipeline for scripted crew is a key priority in our Bristol UNESCO City of Film Action Plan. Opening up opportunities for regional talent from a wide range of backgrounds makes for a more sustainable and resilient industry base. With so many career opportunities that can and should be made available to people living within the region, we want to make access routes into the film and TV industry easier to navigate and provide support to build a more diverse local workforce. This programme will create a clear pathway to help underrepresented talent from Bristol and the West into scripted production careers, demystifying the industry and preparing them for employment with the right level of support and guidance.”

The programme, which is funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, will feature a series of sessions repeated for three intakes throughout 2024, including a ‘Get to Know the Industry’ webinar, an Industry Induction Day at The Bottle Yard Studios, and a specially designed 5-week training scheme to equip potential new entrants for a career in film and high-end TV production. Training will focus on confidence-building, set etiquette and work-readiness, communication skills and teamwork, wellbeing and resilience, as well as digital and financial literacy and how to find work as a freelancer.

The programme will aim to engage up to 750 people in total across its different strands of activity, with a view to 45 undertaking the 5-week training course that will equip them to go on to get jobs. Those who complete the full training will be added to a New Entrants Portfolio given to film and high-end TV productions filming in the region.

The programme will also launch a digital New Entrants Hub, designed to signpost anyone in the West of England interested in a career in film or high-end TV to useful resources, training and development opportunities that are relevant to the region.

Applications will be invited from residents of Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, and South Gloucestershire aged 17 and above**. Underrepresented target groups will include young people aged 17-25**, those not in education, employment or training, under-employed people and those on zero-hour contracts, women, people from the global majority, disabled people, people living with mental health issues, carers and care leavers. An Access Fund will be provided to support any participants who face a financial barrier to taking part.

The West of England Film & High-End TV Workforce Development Programme has been devised following recommendations of the BFI Skills Review (June 2022) and Olsberg’s Workforce Development Report commissioned by Bristol City Council and The Bottle Yard Studios (July 2023). The first call for applications will open in January 2024.

The West of England Mayoral Combined Authority is working in partnership with Bristol City Council’s Film Services (comprising The Bottle Yard Studios, Bristol UNESCO City of Film and Bristol Film Office) to deliver the Mayoral Priority Skills Fund. This fund provides flexible grants to meet current priority skills gaps in the region. This project is part-funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Upcoming productions recently filmed in Bristol and the West of England include Jilly Cooper adaptation Rivals (Disney+), series three of spy thriller Alex Rider (Amazon FreeVee), series three of Stephen Merchant’s The Outlaws (BBC/Amazon Prime Video), comedy drama Boarders (BBC Three), teen crime thriller A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (BBC Three) and series five of children’s drama Malory Towers (CBBC). Titles currently in production in the region include Wolf Hall: The Mirror and the Light (BBC/Masterpiece PBS) and romantic comedy The Road Trip (Paramount+).

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