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From writers to producers and directors, the HETV Skills Fund has helped many people across the industry forge a successful TV career
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the High-end TV Skills Fund. Managed by industry-led body ScreenSkills, its investment in training has helped discover, develop, champion and support the UK workforce at every stage of their career.
Through its relationship with industry, the Fund has been able to identify specific areas of skills shortage and created programmes directly focused towards their development.
It’s these close industry ties, informed by the Fund’s council and working groups, that helped establish a series of programmes aimed at developing writing talent across the UK. One such initiative was the New Writers’ Programme, launched in partnership with production company Dancing Ledge.
It signed up established television writers including Jed Mercurio, Kay Mellor, Jimmy McGovern and Jack Thorne, who each nominated an up-and-coming writer. The established writer provided mentoring and script guidance, as well as key industry introductions to help the new writer bring their vision to life.
The pilot programme was a great success, with three of the eight mentees having their projects greenlit for production within a year, and others becoming full-time screenwriters.
Daniel Brierley went on to create ITV hit Trigger Point, while fellow mentee Nicole Lecky’s one-woman play was transformed into BBC production Mood. There was similar success for Tony Schumacher, who wrote Bafta-nominated BBC hit The Responder as part of the writers’ programme.
The programme’s aims were echoed in a Wales writers’ scheme, focused on identifying and developing Welsh writing talent, with the support of established screenwriters Russell T Davies and Cath Tregenna.
A returning series writers’ programme, working with indies to identify writers to produce speculative scripts, has seen a host of participants create original works or receive their first writing credits on productions like We Are Lady Parts and The Bay.
Producing talent is championed via the creation of the HETV Co-Producer Fund, which supports senior HoDs to move up via a placement in which they gain invaluable practical knowledge on financing, casting, post, broadcaster meetings, prep and deliverables.
“I’ve been offered two jobs, ended up with an agent and started another job within a year. These are opportunities I wouldn’t have had without the co-producers’ programme”
Barrington Robinson was part of the programme in 2021. He says: “The programme gave me exposure. I’ve been in the industry for years and this was my first opportunity to work as a producer in HETV. I’ve been offered two jobs, ended up with an agent and started another job within a year. These are opportunities I wouldn’t have had without the co-producers’ programme.”
He is one of more than 20 people who have been part of the programme now working as producers for UK broadcasters and streamers.
The Make a Move initiative supports individuals ready to progress in any role by developing their skills through on-the-job training. Make a Move has helped aspiring directors – three of those on the programme in the past year have shadowed experienced directors Stewart Svaasand, Jamie Donoughue and Ashley Wy on All Creatures Great And Small, Doctor Who and Who Is Erin Carter?.
The HETV Fund, via its above-the-line programmes, has had a hand in discovering and nurturing amazing talent all across the UK over 10 years. It looks forward to helping the industry champion even more UK screen talent and shape the shows we’ll be watching for years to come.