£20m BFI National Lottery investment kickstarts Future Film Skills action plan

Film industry leaders have united behind plan to ensure the future of UK film, as a new report reveals 10,000 new entrants are needed over the next five years to keep the UK in the vanguard of global film production.


Future Film Skills

At the House of Commons this evening the Culture Secretary Karen Bradley, producer Barbara Broccoli, BFI Chair Josh Berger and BFI CEO Amanda Nevill launched Future Film Skills – An Action Plan to some of the biggest names in film and education.

The launch is a UK-wide call to the screen industries and education sector to support the new plan and for people with transferable skills and young people – especially those from underrepresented groups, to join a booming industry, film, high-end TV, animation, VR and interactive media, that is recognised the world over for its highly skilled workforce and state of the art facilities.

A new BFI commissioned report reveals that there are significant opportunities for the film workforce with an estimated 10,000 new entrants to the industry needed and 30,000 job opportunities over the next five years.

Karen Bradley, Culture Secretary said: “The UK film industry is one of our biggest success stories and the films made here are loved by audiences around the world. For this to continue we need to nurture and foster the next generation of talent – both in front of, and behind the camera. The 10 point skills plan being launched today will be instrumental in helping to deliver this, as well as making sure that the films in the UK are truly representative of the UK’s diverse society.”

Barbara Broccoli, Producer, Eon Productions and Chair of the UK Film Skills Task Force, said: “We live in a diverse society and it is vital both culturally and commercially that our industry reflects this in front of and behind the camera. With industry, education and government uniting behind this new Film Skills Strategy and 10 Point Action Plan we know we will be able to increase the number of people working in film and ensure we have a representative workforce.”

Amanda Nevill, CEO BFI said: “We are on the cusp of a huge opportunity to bring thousands more into this dynamic industry where there is a genuine need for more skilled workers – from hairdressers to accountants, software developers to model makers. They also need to learn and develop their skills from the best, so we call upon everyone in the industry to help us make this a reality. This is not a ‘nice to have’ but an ‘urgent must’ if we are to achieve the growth potential for UK film that is in front of us.”

“This initiative is meaningful for both Lucasfilm and the film industry at large,” says Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy. “Diversity is just as important behind the scenes as it is on the screen. More points of view, more perspectives, and more voices will only make films better.”

This skills strategy is supported by Lucasfilm, which has pioneered a pilot programme with the BFI placing 28 trainees – the majority of which are alumni of the BFI Film Academy, as paid trainees, working in various craft and technical roles across the Untitled Han Solo Project, currently in production at Pinewood Studios.

The Lucasfilm programme is an exemplar in industry-led youth training with a specific focus on inclusion and designed to provide opportunities to address under-representation in the workforce. On this programme 75% of the trainees are women, 45% come from BAME backgrounds, 68% were recruited outside Greater London, and 36% received free school meals. Some of the trainees spoke at the House of Commons event tonight.

UK film is worth £4.3 billion to the economy and is the UK’s fastest growing sector. The UK film sector currently employs 66,000 people, over 70% of whom are employed in film and video production. Some parts of the sector such as VFX and animation have seen a rapid growth in the workforce, as the UK has cemented its position as a global centre for specialist talent and capabilities.

Based on these growth rates, Future Film Skills has identified multiple skills gaps across the sector – including key areas such as Production Department, Art Department, Construction, Electrical, Camera, Costume, Hair and Make-Up, Post-Production, and Visual Effects – and highlights the need for 10,000 new entrants to join the workforce in the next five years.

The Future Film Skills 10 Point Action Plan draws upon the results of a review with practitioners across the industry from the Work Foundation that evidences the vital need to address the skills shortages and that tackling the lack of inclusion in the screen industries is the key to enabling future growth and competitiveness.

The report shows that the film workforce comprises 12% from less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds, 5% with a disability and black, Asian and minority ethnic groups represent just 3% of the production and post-production workforce. Women make up 40% of the workforce and earn on average £3,000 less than male counterparts.

The BFI’s five year plan BFI2022 sets out a goal that all producers active in the UK are encouraged to voluntarily adopt the BFI Diversity Standards, which focus on disability, gender, race, age and sexual orientation (as they pertain to the Equality Act 2010) and also seek to ensure that people from lower socio-economic groups are better represented.

The Future Film Skills Action Plan will:

  • Demystify getting into the film industry for young people with easy to access career advice and guidance on the right courses.
  • Provide bursaries and support services enabling people from all backgrounds to get into the film industry.
  • Open doors for those with appropriate skills (from carpenters to digital creatives) to move into the film industry.
  • Set up specific schemes to encourage industry practitioners to share their knowledge and expertise.

Future Film Skills includes plans to provide equal opportunities for those from all backgrounds, irrespective of socio-economic background or geography, to have the skills they need to access jobs that will be created in the screen industries of the future. This will only be achieved by reaching out to the broadest pool of talent from across the UK, starting in schools through ‘Into Film’ (the BFI’s National Lottery-funded partner which delivers school film clubs and film education resources for teachers), and with support for the growth of craft and technical skills outside of London and the south-east.

This commitment to the future, as set out in BFI2022, recognises the wealth of new opportunities as the industry continues to find fresh and innovative ways of storytelling through new digital technologies, fusing 21st century craft and digital expertise with traditional skills and crafts.

By investing over £20 million of National Lottery funding from 2017-2022 into film skills, the BFI is kick-starting this new skills drive to encourage thousands to become a part of the success story that is UK film. It is anticipated this investment will leverage match funding from the industry’s own Skills Investment Fund and fund the backbone of the industry-owned and industry-led Future Film Skills 10 Point Action Plan.

Future Film Skills has been developed as a result of a wide industry consultation led by the BFI with the Film Skills Industry Task Force, chaired by Barbara Broccoli and including BFI CEO Amanda Nevill, Creative Skillset CEO Seetha Kumar, Chair of the Film Skills Council Iain Smith, Double Negative MD Alex Hope, Ben Roberts, Director BFI Film Fund and producers Marc Samuelson, Fiona McGuire, Callum McDougall, Faiza Hosenie and Damian Jones. The Work Foundation was commissioned to look at the current and future needs of film in recognition of the potential and current economic growth of the film industry, which continues to outperform other sectors considered to be booming, including construction, financial services, and information and communications.

Future Film Skills provides a scale-able blueprint for the creative sector, with the UK creative industries currently accounting for 1 in 11 jobs, a rate that is rising faster than all other parts of the economy.

The 10 Point Action Plan

1. A trusted and reliable careers information service
A single, trusted online destination for anybody seeking information to start or progress a career in the industry. Offering links, networks and information for training and jobs in film throughout the UK, building on and linking to sites such as Into Film, HIIVE and BAFTA Guru.

2. An accreditation system to guarantee employer confidence
Developed by the industry for the industry, in partnership with higher education, to win the confidence of parents, learners and employers, this will build on the achievements of existing work and will involve industry and employers in setting up the scheme.

3. A suite of new Apprenticeship Standards
We will complete and deliver a new Apprenticeship Standard which will be applied to courses for a range of job roles throughout the industry including production, distribution and exhibition.

4. A Skills Forecasting Service
A responsive skills forecasting and planning service to respond to industry needs, and to ensure the regular supply of data across the sector on future skills opportunities.

5. Embed the BFI Film Academy into the skills pipeline
We will develop the success of the BFI Film Academy to work closely with industry, placing set-ready alumni as trainees on film productions across the UK.

6. A mentoring service to break down barriers for new entrants and returnees
A new personal mentoring programme that offers bespoke support for individuals wanting to enter or progress in the film industry, and those returning after a career break. Including mentoring, pastoral care, coaching and opportunities to network, and awareness of specific job opportunities.

7. World-class Centres of Excellence for screen-related craft and technical skills
Working with higher education and the new Institute of Technology we will partner to create a small number of world class Centres of Excellence for screen-related craft and technical skills.

8. A new bursary programme to ensure wide participation
A new bursary programme designed to support individuals taking their first steps, and removing some of the practical obstacles to those currently under-represented in the industry.

9. Professional development courses to maintain world-class skills
A new range of professional development courses, aligned with the latest technology and business skills will ensure our workforce maintains world-class skills.

10.  Mobilise the industry
We will encourage the industry to support the future workforce through a number of schemes and campaigns including creating a database to match individuals with local needs, and which recognises enlightened employers who encourage skills transfer.

Download Future Film Skills – An Action Plan


Download the full Work Foundation report

The report can be accessed online at: www.bfi.org.uk/futurefilmskills

Film industry quotes

Josh Berger, Chair, BFI:
“We have created this plan for action with committed financial investment, but the only way it is going to happen is if we all work together to open up opportunities and make it easier for people from all backgrounds to enter the industry and learn the skills we need for the future.”

Barbara Broccoli, Producer EON Productions and Chair, Film Skills Task Force:
“We live in a diverse society and it is vital both culturally and commercially that our industry reflects this in front of and behind the camera. With industry, education and government uniting behind this new Film Skills Strategy and 10 Point Action Plan we know we will be able to increase the number of people working in film and ensure we have a representative workforce.”

Amanda Nevill, CEO, BFI:
“We are on the cusp of a huge opportunity to bring thousands more into this dynamic industry where there is a genuine need for more skilled workers –  from hairdressers to accountants, software developers to model makers. They also need to learn and develop their skills from the best, so we call upon everyone in the industry to help us make this a reality. This is not a ‘nice to have’ but an ‘urgent must’ if we are to achieve the growth potential for UK film that is in front of us.”

Kathleen Kennedy, President, Lucasfilm:
“This initiative is meaningful for both Lucasfilm and the film industry at large. Diversity is just as important behind the scenes as it is on the screen. More points of view, more perspectives, and more voices will only make films better.”
Alex Hope, MD, Double Negative:
“The UK is a global centre of excellence for VFX — work by UK-based VFX companies has won the VFX Academy Award for the last four years in a row. VFX is the fastest growing area within the film sector and there is a huge opportunity to build on our success. As an industry sector we will only be able to seize the opportunities with the full workforce we need, and this means addressing the skills shortage.”

Marc Samuelson, Samuelson Productions (Me and Orson Welles, Stormbreaker, exec producer, City of Tiny Lights):
“It’s inevitable at a time of booming inward investment in film and in television that the number of available and qualified crew will come under pressure. To stop this becoming a crisis as we move forward we need an expanded workforce with no reduction in quality. The Work Foundation audit and enquiry as to what’s now needed and the subsequent formulation of a proper plan is timely and essential. This report is the best overview of needs and solutions in a decade.”

Seetha Kumar, CEO, Creative Skillset: 
“Diversity is the source and lifeblood of creativity. We have a powerful opportunity for consistent and long-term progress towards diversity across the UK – from entry level through to professional development and senior roles. In an increasingly competitive global market, we need an inclusive talent pool with the rich mix of skills which are vital for creativity, employability and productivity.”
Eric Fellner, co-Chair, Working Title and Chair, Into Film:
“As a film producer and Chair of a film education charity, I know how vital it is to establish pathways that enable talented young people from the widest possible range of backgrounds to develop their skills and progress into our industry. We are delighted to see the launch of the Film Skills Strategy and look forward to playing our part in supporting its goal to develop an inclusive, diverse and highly skilled workforce that will underpin the UK film industry’s continued success.”

Paul Golding, Chair, Pinewood:
“Pinewood Studios is a leading destination for filmmakers with many of the world’s best-loved, most famous films having been produced here. Every year we welcome thousands of highly skilled craftsmen and technicians to Pinewood and Shepperton and it’s the combination of this talent and our facilities that makes the UK the number one choice for film production. We welcome the 10 Point Action Plan as a great means to further develop the UK’s workforce.”

Elizabeth Karlsen, Producer, Number 9 Films (Carol, Great Expectations, Made in Dagenham):
“We are close to breaking point with the massive demand placed on sourcing crew and crafts people with the explosion of storytelling across all platforms. We have struggled on the last three of our UK productions to fill key positions across all departments – there is simply too much work out there and not enough trained, skilled people to do it. On Colette (2018) we really struggled to find an accountant, a production manager and a costume supervisor. I have heard the same story on other productions.”

Gerry Morrissey, Head of BECTU:
“Thank you for sharing this report with me. I honestly think it’s the most interesting document I have read in years. It’s well researched and I may argue about the odd conclusion but the overall conclusions are broadly correct. Bectu would be prepared to play a full part in any future debates. I would be grateful if you would keep this in mind. Our strong commitment to diversity is well known across all areas of the cultural sector.”

Alison Small, Chief Executive, Production Guild:
“We are pleased to see the BFI committed to investing in the training of the creative sector and recognising the value of the screen industries workforce present and future. It is essential to us to see the development of skills at every level, from newcomers to the industry through to those more experienced professionals moving up, including those freelancers who are essential in supporting the high levels of production we are currently seeing in the UK. Our skilled crew play such an important part in our reputation of excellence internationally, that the commitment to keep supporting them is good news. I look forward to working with the BFI and industry in going forward and developing the strategy in light of industry needs.”

Andrew Smith, Chair, Buckinghamshire Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership:
“The UK film production sector is a world leader, recognised for its award-winning creativity, highly skilled workforce and state-of-the-art facilities, contributing £4.3 billion to the UK economy and outperforming every other sector. We have just seen a record year for film and high-end television production in the UK and this boom has created a greater demand for more skilled workers and more job opportunities, essential to ensuring we can achieve further growth and success. Today’s announcement from the BFI of a new industry-led skills strategy backed by an investment of £20 million of BFI National Lottery funding will be a vital boost to businesses UK-wide, encouraging 10,000 new entrants to join the industry and an estimated 30,000 film industry job opportunities over the next five years.”

BFI Film Academy alumni/Lucasfilm trainees, The Untitled Han Solo Project movie

Brahim, aged 20:
“I grew up on a refugee camp in north west Africa and the entire reason I got into filmmaking and I tried to get into this industry was because the love that I have for storytelling and all the stories that I have from my background that no-one has ever heard about because of the huge conflict that has been going on for the past few years. I came to live in London almost two years ago and it seemed impossible to wrangle and tangle the British film industry. I came across the BFI Film Academy and it was a documentary residential and it couldn’t have been more perfect because that’s what I wanted to do.”

Sonia, aged 21:
“My advice to any young person who has a dream of the industry but not found an ‘in’ yet, is that it’s really hard; I think the biggest thing is don’t stop trying, you do get rejected and there are people who are more suitable for some jobs and some people who are more experienced for others, so it just about not taking that too personally and keep trying. Perseverance.”

Jordan, aged 19:
“I just try and learn as much as I can because genuinely I am so lucky to be here, I don’t want to name drop but… Star Wars. My mind is blown. I just want to take in as much as I can while I am here, I can’t believe that I am 19 years old and I am doing the job that I want to do, it’s not even work to me – I go home and end up wanting to come back, just can’t wait to get back.”

Working in film

Jemma, 25, Second Assistant Storewoman:
“I have suffered sexist remarks in the workplace but never from the props department. I have inherited 15 brothers, all of whom have and would stick up for me if a situation were to arise. Women within the more labour intensive departments in film, is now becoming increasingly common and there is an unspoken sense of camaraderie between us. We are here and we are here to stay!”

Andrew, 38, Engineer and Carpenter:
“There is not a shortage of people with the actual skills to do the job, there is a shortage of people being in the right situation or who are able to get to the work, or put up with the irregularity of work. For a young person it’s hard because you might be required to travel anywhere and when you are coming into the industry you may spend a few weeks or months without any work from time to time.”

Retraining for a career in film

Alex, Prop Dresser:
“This was a complete career change for me after spending 15 years in construction. I was 38 years old at the time of attending a Talking Point prop training course. With the knowledge and skills I gained on that course along with the teams support after the course I managed to get a placement on Bridget Jones’s Baby as a prop dresser trainee. The job is tough at times and the hours are long but it is fantastically interesting.”

Stephen, VFX:
“I trained and worked as an architect for several years. It was a bit of a risk leaving an industry I knew for one I didn’t, but I wasn’t happy where I was so it was time to make the move. That was about 17 years ago, I am now an Animation Supervisor at Double Negative.”

Sarah, Production Accountant:
“I have always had an interest in film and filmmaking from a young age. It was something I shared with my father growing up and we would make our own little stop motion animations, visit locations from movies and read books/watch TV shows, etc., about how movies were made. I had always thought that film would be something that would remain as simply an interest, and not something I expected to become a career opportunity. I had qualified as a chartered accountant in 2014 and I wanted something new and challenging to sink my teeth into.”

Higher Education sector

Jon Wardle, Director National Film and Television School:
“I wholeheartedly support the BFI Film Skills Audit and Plan and its objective to highlight the infrastructure, services and training that the UK film industry needs in order to flourish. It is a primary remit of the National Film and Television School, as the UK’s centre of excellence for training the most talented emerging filmmakers, to address industry skills gaps with bespoke courses such as our new Assistant Directing and Production Accounting Diplomas. We look forward to working with the BFI to address the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

Andrew Thompson, CEO, Arts & Humanities Research Council:
“This skills plan for film offers a welcome way forward for an expanding industry that is a vital part of our creative sector, and also for a medium and an art-form that continues to grow in importance in the humanities.”

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