The ScreenSkills Film Skills Fund has been helping entry- and mid-level candidates gain access to the film industry for 25 years, paving the way for talent to reach new heights.


Source: Cannes


The Film Skills Fund has been committed to supporting the development of the UK’s film workforce for 25 years. Managed by ScreenSkills and paid for by the industry, it invests funds in skills training to help people enter and progress in their careers and help grow a thriving film industry in the UK.

By working hand in hand with industry members, the fund identifies areas where skills training is most required and invests in initiatives that respond directly to that need. These investments are made possible through the contributions of film productions, with $24m (£19m) having been invested since the fund was established in 1999.

“Investment in training is vital for the continued success of our industry, and the work of the fund plays a critical role,” says Emma Turner, head of film, animation and future skills at ScreenSkills. “Through our unique relationship with industry, we create opportunities, from paid placements on productions to producer programmes, and working on celluloid film to virtual production supervisor training. The ScreenSkills Film Skills Fund will support and grow a highly skilled and diverse workforce, no matter where they are in the UK or their career stage.”

Contributions come from a range of UK productions, with recent Cannes prize-winning examples including Aftersun and How To Have Sex. This year’s festival selection is no exception, with four of the films having contributed to the fund: Kinds Of Kindness, Sister Midnight, Santosh and Bird.

Hands-on experience

Andrea Arnold’s Competition entry Bird illustrates how the fund provides exciting opportunities for entry-level candidates. Seven trainees on the production were selected from Film Trainee Finder, the fund’s flagship new-entrant programme.

The initiative provides on-set experience for those looking to start their screen careers through paid production placements across a range of behind-the-camera roles. These placements, in roles where there is a skills shortage, are paired with tailored training, industry advice and networking opportunities to offer practical guidance to participants.

“It was fantastic to support the production with their crewing needs on Bird,” says Celia Small, ScreenSkills’ film programme and placement lead. “Through the Film Trainee Finder programme, the trainees were able to get vital hands-on experience and build their network, which has all helped with their career progression. It’s so important for trainees to work with supportive teams who help guide and nourish their develop­ment, and that’s exactly what happened on this production.”

It is an experience that also benefits the production company, offering new talent from a trusted programme. “We have collaborated with the Film Skills Fund on many occasions and will continue to do so,” says Molly Moffatt, junior production executive at House Productions. “Their trainees come well-­prepared, with a solid foundation of industry knowledge and practical skills that make them valuable additions to our productions. We thank all the trainees we’ve worked with for their hard work and wish them all the best for the future.”

Tobi Kyeremateng

Source: ScreenSkills

Tobi Kyeremateng

There are programmes designed for those at mid-career level too. Film Forward aims to create real change in the industry by supporting experienced Black and Asian professionals to advance to more senior roles. Candidates with five or more years of experience are matched with productions for paid placements and on-the-job training alongside bursary access, with the aim of improving the diversity of productions across the UK.

Tobi Kyeremateng, one of the programme’s most recent cohort who will step into a production manager role, notes: “Part of Film Forward’s strength is that it gives access to people that I feel I can’t access; I’m going to meet people and ask about their specific roles and how they work. Networking is part of the film industry but it’s also about people in positions of influence giving jobs to the same people. Sometimes it’s not just that you don’t know the right people, but that those individuals always hire the same people. I’m really excited to see what Film Forward brings, and developing my skillset.”

This considered approach to training underpins the thinking behind the fund’s investments. It is shaped by what the industry needs, and helps to address skills gaps among a new generation of filmmakers. This thinking is reflected in the recent training for working on celluloid film, with participants receiving seven days of practical training on a range of cameras and equipment.

These initiatives are made possible through the contributions of productions to the Film Skills Fund. It is by industry, for industry — a relationship that aims to sustain and grow the UK’s workforce so it can continue to make films the world wants to watch.

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