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ScreenSkills Film Skills Fund announces new Film Forward cohort

Oct 20, 2023

“Diversity behind the camera is just as important as it is in front of it. Film Forward is a vital step in the right direction to help improve our industry from within.” (Steve McQueen)

ScreenSkills’ Film Skills Fund has announced the second cohort to take part in landmark inclusion programme, Film Forward. Launched in 2021, Film Forward is designed to support real change across the UK film industry and help improve the diversity of productions by developing talented Black and Asian professionals make the next step in their careers.

The eight selected candidates will now be matched with paid placement opportunities across a range of behind-the-camera roles as well as receiving access to a bursary to assist with expenses needed to enable career progress.

Emma Turner, ScreenSkills’ head of film, animation and future skills, said: “I’m delighted to welcome a second cohort to the Film Forward programme. It’s a vital initiative – both for the candidates and the wider industry – and its aims of making film production a truly inclusive and representative environment will help improve the sector’s diversity across the UK. The success of the pilot shows that initiatives like this are needed within our industry to help drive sustainable change.”

Film Forward aims to help candidates gain the confidence and necessary knowledge to progress through the practical experience of working in their chosen department alongside skilled senior colleagues. The opportunity allows them to learn about the demands and challenges of the role and equips them with the tools to succeed at a senior level.

Merv Lewis is one of those selected or the programme and hopes to be able to step up to a production manager role. He said: “The exposure to industry and networking opportunities offered by Film Forward can, I hope, significantly contribute to my professional development, not only broadening my perspectives but also potentially opening doors to future collaborations and projects.”

Hair and make-up artist Abigail Alexander is another member of the new cohort. She said: “Programmes like this force the screen industry to open up, see and recognise just how much talent there is outside of their familiar groups and they can also experience what positives we, the ‘under-represented’ can bring to the table.”

Anita Overland, producer and chair of ScreenSkills Film Skills Council, said: “Film Forward is a greatly important programme for the industry. It puts a pathway in place for skilled professionals from diverse backgrounds to gain the experience of working at a higher level and providing them with the tools to take that crucial next step. It opens to door to an improved and diverse workplace for UK film production and helps highlight that film is an industry for everyone.”

Steve McQueen, director of films including 12 Years A Slave, Small Axe and Hunger, said: “Diversity behind the camera is just as important as it is in front of it. Film Forward is a vital step in the right direction to help improve our industry from within: providing the necessary support that allows a skilled workforce to develop, one that reflects our society.”

The eight selected for the programme are:

  • Marv Lewis, current role – stepping up from 2nd assistant director to production manager
  • Tobi Kyeremateng – stepping up from producer (short form drama, unscripted) to production manager
  • Venita Singh-Warner – stepping up from line producer to production manager
  • Charanprite Dhami – stepping up from 3rd assistant director to 2nd AD
  • Abigail Alexander – stepping up from hair and make-up stylist, crowd to make-up artist
  • Jin Jin Ong – stepping up from hair and make-up artist to hair and make-up supervisor
  • Collette Creary-Myers – stepping up from production designer to art director
  • Leon Seth – stepping up from locations manager to supervising locations manager.

 

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