A global streaming company’s desire for UK-produced shows is reshaping the UK TV and film industry, aiming to keep up with demand by creating 30,000 new jobs and educating 10,000 people.
The UK becomes the attraction for large US studios looking to work in Pinewood as well as Hollywood, as evidenced by Amazon’s recent decision to shift filming for the new Lord of the Rings TV series from New Zealand to the UK.
To combat this, Tim Bevan, co-producer of Four Weddings And Funeral and Bridget Jones, said for the first time that the UK screen sector is investing adequately in training and hiring a more diverse staff.
He told The Guardian that in the past, training was the first budget cut. But now producers have realized that we can’t have an industry if we don’t train the next generation.
Bevan said the current situation is crazy. It’s really hard to find good people because of the lack of crew, and people who stop completely to go into production. Some shocking things are going on across the sector, like people jumping in boats during filming to work on other shows to make more money.
According to ScreenSkills, it spent about $1.5 billion on British high-end TV (HETV) shows last year. However, it has already hit an all-time high of 878 million in the first quarter of 2021 and is expected to grow to 6 billion over the next few years.
ScreenSkills is currently helping the UK Film Institute conduct industry reviews to help governments train people for the 30,000 new roles they need.
HETV Director Kaye Elliott said this is an unprecedented time for programming due to delayed projects due to the pandemic, but the demand for TV content is higher than ever.
James Burstall, CEO of Argonon, the parent company of Masked Singer, agrees. We’re in a chronic shortage of battles to get the best people on our production staff and dogfights for space to shoot.
He said it’s because streamers have a thirst for high-end British content and influence every aspect of production, from accountants to costume makers.
Elliott said UK tax cuts, multiple locations and popular British dramas have given streamers confidence to invest, but larger show sizes mean more production staff will be needed longer.
She said ScreenSkills currently offers training for around 170 productions. This is almost double the number from the previous year and only half of this year.
In 1967, Sean Connery of Pinewood Studios lived twice. Photo: Graham Stark Photo Library/Getty Images
While Netflix is contributing to ScreenSkills, it has also set up a 1.2 million plan called Grow Creative UK, which will train 1,000 people this year, especially from diverse backgrounds. Many will get job offers on hit shows like Bridgerton, and some 12-month contracts to provide job security.
Netflix UK Education Manager Alison Small said:
We want a studio that offers the most educational opportunities in the UK. [and] Across all of our content and production, we really make a difference and diversify our industry.
As part of that, Netflix is donating $600,000 to Bevans Working Title Films and a free school called London Screen Academy, co-founded by creators James Bond and Harry Potter.
Bevan said that LSA recruits new hires from schools that last think of working in the film industry and educates students on projects created by the school’s founders and partners, including Netflix.
Our crew is great, but that’s really important as they tend to be white and kinship in the way people get into them. [to have] Permutations of different kinds of people [and] There are many different voices, Bevan said.
Others are doing their part. Banijay UK, producer of MasterChef and Peaky Blinders, is offering 10 underrepresented freelancers a 12-month contract to work throughout the show. Channel 5 and Sky have also launched their diversity initiatives.
BBC Bitesize is also encouraging more young people to join TV through films about careers in the industry.
Hillary Clinton and Gareth Southgate discuss Britishness as the future of British television on the world stage will be debated at the Royal Television Societys Cambridge convention on September 15th.
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