Training agency Skillset and support body the UK Film Council have announced further details of their new £50m UK film skills strategy, which aims to revolutionise training and skills in the UK industry.
A key component of the five-year strategy - called A Bigger Future - is a network of Screen Academies, which will see their first intake of students in September 2005. A grant application process for the academies, which will offer film training at both further and higher education levels, will open from September to December this year, with successful bids announced next April.
The Skillset Film Business Academy, which will focus on management and business skills in distribution, exhibition and facilities, will be established by early 2005. Details of the grant applications process will be announced soon.
Recruitment for a mentoring scheme - Skillset Guiding Lights - is currently underway. The scheme will see 50 big name industry professionals mentor 30 writers, directors, producers and actors, and 20 agents, distributors, sales agents, exhibitors and business affairs personnel. The mentoring schemes, which last for one year each, launch in the summer.
Applications for the £1m New Entrants Schemes, which cover junior construction, technical and production accounting roles, will be open from April 19.
A Skillset Film Skills Trainee Network will see 10 runner-level and 15 trainee-level new entrants get talent spotted to benefit from support, advice, workshops, introductions to contacts and work experience placements. Runner membership will last 6 months and trainee membership 12 months.
In the first year of the strategy, £700,000 is allotted for short courses that aid the continual professional development of existing film industry workers. Applications are open from 19 April, and a bursary scheme will shortly be available for up to 500 individual practitioners. Short courses in priority areas will be discounted.
Next month, recruitment of Skillset Training Consultants - advisors available to go into small film businesses to help organise skills development - begins, and applications open for Skillset Training Management Grants, which help larger companies to employ in-house training managers.
In addition, five people from the film industry will be recruited and trained as careers advisors by June this year, and a pilot accreditation scheme in higher education screenwriting courses begins at the end of the year. Guidelines, including information on bursaries for individuals attending courses, are published next month.
"The UK film industry is simply only as good as the people in it," said Stewart Till, chairman and CEO of United International Pictures and deputy chair of Skillset and the Film Council. "A Bigger Future is a strategy to attract the brightest and the best and then to train and educate them throughout their film career. If we are successful then our film industry will become dramatically even more competitive and successful.
Funding to support all the schemes comes from the Skillset Film Skills Fund, a collective fund made up of lottery money delegated via UK Film Council and investment from Skillset, the Skills Investment Fund (SIF), industry and public agencies.