The second of the UK’s Centres of Screen Excellence will offer new craft and tech traineeships for 18 and 19-year-olds

Being filmed Sophia Mascarenhas - Credit ScreenSkills Erroll Jones

The UK’s second Centre of Screen Excellence is to open in Elstree and Borehamwood, offering opportunities and training to those looking to establish careers in film and high-end TV.

The Centre of Screen Excellence: Elstree has come about through a partnership between ScreenSkills, Elstree Screen Arts Academy, Elstree Film Studios and the National Film and Television School. The initiative will provide new craft and tech traineeships for 18 and 19-year-olds in the areas of skills needed by the industry.

The Centre of Screen Excellence: Elstree is supported by ScreenSkills with National Lottery funds awarded by the BFI as part of the BFI’s Future Film Skills strategy. This highlighted the need for 10,000 new recruits to enter the industry by 2022. Centres of Screen Excellence are designed to bring together local and national partners to build capacity in production hubs with a more inclusive, highly skilled workforce.

Elstree and Borehamwood was chosen as the location for the centre as it’s home to a number of large studio spaces and production companies including Elstree Film Studios, Universal Production Services, BBC Elstree, BBC Studioworks and Sky Studios Elstree (which opens in 2022). It is also geographically near Warner Bros Studios Leavesden.

These companies will work with Elstree Screen Arts Academy to provide work placements and mentoring in support of the Centre of Screen Excellence traineeship.

It’s anticipated there will be courses focused on costume, grip, hair and make-up and lighting. Elstree Screen Arts has also developed its own course in art direction. Students will also attend two ‘bootcamps’ with the National Film and Television School designed to make them work-ready for the specific requirements of working in productions and for freelance life (including tax, invoicing and networking).

Up to 60 places will be available from this September. Candidates who successfully complete the course will receive a Centre of Screen Excellence UK Craft Skills Certificate.

Chris Mitchell, principal at Elstree Screen Arts Academy, said: “We are so proud to be designated as a UK Centre of Screen Excellence, delivering traineeships at ESA in these in-demand jobs in the screen industry. It’s exactly what we are all about; providing motivated and talented young people from all walks of life with the specialist technical and creative training to break into the film and TV industries. We look forward to some alumni Baftas in the coming years.”

Seetha Kumar, CEO ScreenSkills, said: “The collaboration between all those involved in this new centre is a fantastic example of how working together can create opportunities for young people from a wide variety of backgrounds and support the screen industries with a skilled pipeline of talent. Building an inclusive workforce is embedded in what we do and giving people the right tools to do a job well is an important first step.”

Ben Roberts, chief executive of the BFI, said: “This is an exciting step in our strategy to help train a wider workforce for the UK’s rapidly growing film and TV industry, using the first Centre of Excellence in Yorkshire as a blueprint for further centres around the UK. This new centre in Elstree will help the local area to capitalise on the industry’s increasing demand for skills.”

Roger Morris, chair and founder of the ESA and MD of Elstree Studios said: “I’m delighted to be able to join with ESA and ScreenSkills and the NFTS to provide vocational education and training for the creative industries and to provide young people with industry placements to ensure that they get the hands on training to be employable across our industry.”

Gareth Ellis-Unwin, head of film and animation, ScreenSkills and Academy and Bafta Award-winning producer, said: “We are delighted that the Centre of Screen Excellence: Elstree will build on the model developed and launched last year in Yorkshire so that young people and their parents and guardians can be confident in the training being offered and film and television benefit from a properly skilled local workforce. I shot both The King’s Speech and my film Exam at Elstree and am delighted to be continuing the connection by supporting local talent to get into an industry I love.”