New Berkshire Skills Cluster wins £600,000 BFI funding
Shinfield Studios, Slough-based Resource Productions and University of Reading are partnering to create Berkshire Skills Cluster, with funding from the BFI to train and build a pool of production crew talent in the region.
The Skills Cluster is one of many new hubs announced by the BFI, which comprise organisations, studios and industry bodies joining forces to make the industry more accessible and help train and develop new and emerging film and TV production crew.
The scheme aims to create new opportunities for new entrants to the workforce, those from underrepresented backgrounds, individuals upskilling and over 50s jobseekers returning to work.
A total of £9.6m of National Lottery funding will be granted over three years to support skills development and training across the UK. Skills Clusters investments aim to strike a balance between building on existing production infrastructure to provide new development opportunities in established areas of filmmaking and TV production activity, such as in Berkshire and also helping to grow local crew bases in emerging areas.
The Berkshire-based Skills Cluster - led by social enterprise Resource Productions CIC - has won £600,000 from the BFI funding pot, and is unique among the projects in that it is focused around a single county. Other clusters announced through the BFI scheme cover wider UK regions and nations.
The news of the funding comes at a time when Berkshire’s film-friendly profile is very much on the rise, partly due to the ongoing construction of Shinfield Studios (pictured above and below), which will be the fourth-largest complex of its kind in the UK when fully open.
Dominique Unsworth, CEO of Resource Productions CIC, said: “After more than two decades organically diversifying the talent supply chain from our not-for-profit in Slough, we are really excited to bring this skills investment into Berkshire. It will enable us to drive forward the great work of our partners across education, training, industry and government.
“We’ve all been talking about screen sector skills gaps for so long, now we actually have some resource to enable real action!”
Nick Smith, joint MD Shinfield Studios, added: “When we were looking for a location to build Shinfield Studios we knew that Berkshire had so much to offer. Not least its proximity to London, but the area also has a strong local infrastructure to help meet the needs of producers. This includes access to local production talent.
“The goal is to build on this to help address the wider skills shortage in film production and offer a pathway for local people to a career in this industry. With Shinfield Studios less than 12 months away from being fully operational, there will be even more opportunity for employment in this rewarding sector.”
Gareth Ellis-Unwin, CEO of Bedlam Film Productions, which is supporting the Berkshire Skills Cluster, emphasised: “The screen industries are booming in the UK, but to stay fresh and continue to thrive we must nurture new talent and open up the industry.
“As the local infrastructure such as the new studios come on stream, the “people part” is the next critical step. Skilled film crew are the beating heart of the screen industries, and one reason why the UK is a destination of choice for the US studios and streamers. We have an opportunity to compete on both a national and international level here in Berkshire.
“Living locally, I know that Berkshire is already blessed with some incredible resources as a centre for film and TV production, but we need to make best use of our most important asset – our local workforce – whoever and wherever they are. I believe this new skills cluster will be a big boost to that goal.”
You can find more about Shinfield Studio on p17 of our latest edition of World of Studios. To book your place in the next issue, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Large Shinfield Studios image via Earth Grid.