We produce home-grown commercially viable feature films, supporting new talent from unrepresented demographics. Here is how we do it.
In 2016 Screen Northants pitched an idea to BBC Children in Need.
The idea we pitched was that we could use the film making process to raise aspirations in young people, with a particular focus on those who are severely disadvantaged and/or underrepresented in our industry.
BBC Children in Need provided the proof-of-concept funding and we have produced 3 feature films in our model and worked with 210 young people who fit the CIN criteria. The results were fantastic, and BBC Children in Need were blown away by the achievements.
How we do it
Screen Northants is made up of 2 strands. Film and Academy and they both feed into each other. They are of equal importance to the success of the project as whole.
We make good quality professional Films/Television while creating a meritocracy within industry. Levelling the playing field by removing socio-economic, geographic and cultural barriers so that anyone with the right work ethic will have a shot.
This seems like a simple statement but there are a couple of compelling reasons for wanting to do this.
Firstly, because we engage disadvantaged and underrepresented young people on our projects, the expectation from industry was that the films themselves are simply educational tools or worse, student lead films. This is not the case, the best analogy we have for our model is that of a teaching hospital. Highly skilled professionals doing the work, while at the same time teaching juniors, allowing them to observe and even gain hands on experience whenever possible and without detracting from the quality of delivery. The student is in the operating theatre but ultimately the qualified surgeon removes the kidney.
Secondly, we have found that best way to reach the more severely disenfranchised and disengaged young person is to treat them like an equal and engage them on projects with substance. To say “I trust you” to work on a film we have made up as an academic exercise for them is a waste of time. To say “I trust you” on a film that is everyone’s livelihood and puts food on tables to feed our families, has a massive impact on how those young people engage.
Thirdly, we want a BAFTA. We want to make films that are critical and or commercial successes as this not only validates the model but also helps subsidise it.
70 disadvantaged young people will get unprecedented training and work experience in Film and TV.
The Academy is a 7 year programme which provides educational pathways and industry experience for 14-21 year olds who are in education in Northamptonshire.
How it works is simple. We identify young people through engagement with schools directly or in connection with the Schools Film Competition. From 14-16 we provide work experience on 2 films (one per year). We then guide them to an appropriate Further Education course and from 16-18 they gain experience on 2 more films. By this point we hope they will have a clear idea of which department they want to work in and we then guide them to an appropriate Higher Education course. Throughout the HE course, they will gain additional experience on 3 more films, but now focused specifically on the department they want to work in. At 21 they leave University with a degree, 7 feature films on their CV and decent network of professionals to chase for work.