BAFTA Los Angeles Launches Access for All Campaign

BAFTA Awards - H 2015
AP Images/Invision

BAFTA Awards - H 2015

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts’ new campaign will drive funds toward several scholarships and existing community outreach programs.

BAFTA’s Los Angeles branch recently recognized individuals dedicated to advancing the arts at the annual Britannia Awards, and members of the nonprofit are taking a cue from their honorees and turning their focus to L.A.’s youth. The organization will officially launch its Access for All campaign, a new initiative to showcase scholarships, mentorship and hands-on experience for students interested in careers in the entertainment industry.

“While BAFTA Los Angeles is widely known for promoting excellence through our screenings, awards and celebrations, Access for All puts focus on our community and talent development programs,” said BAFTA L.A. Chairman Kieran Breen. “Los Angeles is a city that has warmly welcomed Brits with open arms for many years, so it is important to BAFTA that we give something back and use the unique expertise of our membership to provide meaningful support to those now looking to begin their own careers.”

The nonprofit will continue to partner with the City of Los Angeles, County of Los Angeles, LAUSD and Washington Preparatory High School to provide better access to opportunities and potential careers in film and television. The venture includes free public screenings and Q&As at county parks in South L.A., lectures and one-on-one coaching at George Washington Preparatory High School, and an intensive mentorship program for 10 inner-city high school students.

BAFTA member and Odd Couple showrunner Bob Daily details his involvement in the program, including running a simulated writers room at Washington Prep High School. “The most fun thing is giving someone their first opportunity. I’ll be begging these people for a job [in the future]. These people will be running this town someday. I remember very well the people who gave me my first job.” Through the program, Daily was connected with program alumnus Stephanie Ancell, who was eventually hired as an assistant to another executive producer at CBS and notes it was a chain reaction sparked by the BAFTA program. “BAFTA kick started my L.A. career through their speed-networking events and assigning me a mentor, Bob Daily. Not only is he a hugely successful writer, he is extremely generous with his time and gave me invaluable career guidance, even making time to read and give notes on my writing,” says Ancell.

“BAFTA L.A. has been quietly, but successfully supporting new talents in the LA community for many years, serving as a foot in the door and a pathway to the top for those who deserve the chance to succeed,” said BAFTA Los Angeles CEO Chantal Rickards. “With Access for All, it is time for us to step out from the shadows and ask for support to grow these impactful programs.”

Scholarships are another focus of the nonprofit and an integral one at that, as noted by Lesh Thapar, a British filmmaker and current MFA film candidate at Columbia University, School of the Arts. “To have the time, freedom of thought and peace of mind to be able to focus all my efforts on my filmmaking education is absolutely invaluable," shares Thapar. BAFTA L.A. already provides scholarships for British students at U.S. film schools and expanded its U.S. Student Film Awards.

The inner-city mentorship program is one of the organization’s most impressive and provides 1,000 hours of mentorship for its students. Nocturnal Animals makeup artist and BAFTA member Donald Mowat notes dedication is most important to the students. “Whenever I’m not filming, I go out to the school as much as possible. I round up colleagues to visit. Some kids aren’t interested [in makeup], but there are always a few that are,” Mowat says.

Both Mowat and Daily agree that encouraging and reaching young people of different backgrounds is integral. “A lot of people talk about giving back, writing checks is one way, but there are plenty of people who do not realize how valuable they are. There’s another generation and they need extra help," adds Mowat. The campaign is aimed to help the next generation of filmmakers and make equal opportunity in the industry a closer reality.