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While the U.K.’s film production boom is showing no signs of slowing down — now worth some $5.6 billion to the economy and boosted by a healthy tax incentives scheme and, more recently, the post-Brexit tumbling value of the pound — the failure of the local British skills base to keep up with demand has often been cited as a growing concern.
With this in mind, a new initiative, backed by the British Film Institute alongside powerhouse producers such as Barbara Broccoli, Kathleen Kennedy and other industry figures, will see some £20 million ($25.6 million) from the U.K.’s National Lottery pumped into developing training and education between 2017-2022.
The 10-point plan, titled Future Film Skills, was unveiled Wednesday by culture secretary Karen Bradley at the same time as a new report commissioned by the BFI into the growing employment gap across the industry. According to the report’s statistics, some 10,000 new entrants are needed to maintain the U.K.’s production growth over the next five years, while over the same period there will be some 30,000 job opportunities.
“We are at 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,” BFI CEO Amanda Nevill said in a statement. “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.”
Nevill added that it was an “urgent must” rather than a “nice to have” in order for the U.K. to achieve its growth potential.
Part of the initiative is aimed at addressing the lack of inclusion in the U.K. screen industries, something James Bond film producer and U.K. Film Skills Task Force chair Broccoli said was vital “both culturally and commercially.”
Alongside the announcement, a program was also announced with Lucasfilm that has been putting trainees from the BFI Film Academy on the set of the untitled Han Solo film.
“This initiative is meaningful for both Lucasfilm and the film industry at large,” said Lucasfilm president 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.”
Others to have thrown their weight behind the Future Film Skills plan include Working Title co-chair Eric Fellner, Pinewood chair Paul Golding and Carol producer Elizabeth Karlsen of Number 9 Films.
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