ScreenSkills Invests £10M In UK High-End TV
The ScreenSkills High-end TV Skills Fund is to invest £10.1M ($13.2M) of industry contributions from UK producers, broadcaster in-house productions and inward investors in the coming year to meet training needs within the booming sector. The 2022-23 investment reps a notable increase in spending from £6.7M ($8.8M) this financial year, which has supported 1,400 individuals to move up in their careers, fill shortage grades and develop professional skills. The flagship program, Trainee Finder, with paid placements for new entrants, will be increased from 120 spots to more than 200 including the addition of at least six trainees in virtual production. Make a Move, which funds stepping up opportunities for production crew, will be almost doubled to £2M ($2.6M) to ensure it continues to support the significant increase in anticipated productions shooting in the UK in 2022/23. As part of the drive to ensure freelancer retention in the industry and improve work/life balance, the HETV job share program will also be significantly expanded to support more flexible working for up to 40 job-sharers. In addition, training in leadership and management and anti-bullying and harassment will continue to be available to every shooting HETV production team. Further, there will be a continued focus on ensuring access to training and opportunities across the UK, which this year will be strengthened with the introduction of industry working groups in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Mo Abudu Celebrated By Series Mania
Series Mania has named EbonyLife Group CEO Mo Abudu as the recipient of its Second Annual Woman in Series Award. In association with European Women’s Audiovisual Network and Pour Les Femmes Dans Les Médias, the prize is given to a remarkable woman from the audiovisual industry to honor her vision and leadership. Abudu oversees all the divisions of the EbonyLife Group, which includes EbonyLife Media, EbonyLife Films and EbonyLife Studios, as well as the EbonyLife Creative Academy, a school aimed at accelerating filmmaking skills, and EbonyLife Place, Nigeria’s first luxury entertainment resort. Among her producing credits are Fifty, The Wedding Party, Chief Daddy, The Royal Hibiscus Hotel and Your Excellency. She also executive produced Òlòtūré, a Netflix Original feature that exposes the shady business of human trafficking in Nigeria. Under Abudu’s leadership, EbonyLife Media has secured several production collaborations with international studios including Sony, AMC Networks (USA), Netflix, Starz and Lionsgate, the BBC, Westbrook Studios and Will Packer Productions. Abudu will be presented with her award on the evening of March 22 at the Forum’s Awards Ceremony in Lille. Series Mania runs from March 18-25 with the Series Mania Forum from March 22-24.
HBO Max Launches In 15 More European Nations
HBO Max is now available in 61 territories after launching in 15 European countries including The Netherlands, Portugal, Hungary, Poland, and Romania. WarnerMedia’s streamer kicks off with a range of offers in the European nations including two tiers in The Netherlands, both at 50% of the regular monthly subscription. The move brings HBO Max’s European territory figure to 21 while the streamer has been forging local production hubs in areas such as France and Turkey. HBO Max International Head Johannes Larcher said: “In under 24 months we have built a scalable streaming business present in 61 territories and counting. International is going to continue be an important part of our global growth story going forward.” The news comes as Paramount+, Peacock and Discovery+ also deepen European ties in a year that is proving the next phase in the streamer wars.
UK’s Big Deal Films Unveils Diverse Animation Scheme
Leading UK indie Big Deal Films has launched a program with Hoek, Line & Thinker to unearth the next big animated hit authored by diverse creatives. The Big Thinkers program is inviting animation creators to pitch ideas that give a voice to underrepresented sections of the audience. The 10 finalists will pitch projects in person to a jury in London in several weeks featuring industry execs including Disney EMEA’s Shamik Majumdar and Netflix’s Ed Barnieh. The three winning creators will then be invited to develop their ideas into full pitch bibles at Big Deal, which is behind the likes of BBC Three comedy Dreaming Whilst Black. The move comes following a call from BBC Children’s Boss Patricia Hidalgo for a British version of The Simpsons. “Now more than ever, the world of animation needs stories, characters and superheroes that truly reflect the world we live in,” said Big Deal Co-Founder Dhanny Joshi. “Further increasing our presence in animation feels like a very natural next step for Big Deal Films and we are excited to partner with Tom and the Hoek, Line and Thinker team to make this a reality.”
BBC Studios Relaunches Writers’ Academy
BBC Studios has relaunched its 2022 Writers’ Academy with a focus on original series development, broadening from continuing drama. Successful applicants will receive a series of guest lectures from greats including Russell T Davies, Jed Mercurio and Sex Education’s Laurie Nunn. They will then receive six months of paid series development resulting in an original TV pilot script and there will also be a fast-track opportunity for those who wish to trial for an episode commission on long-running BBC soap EastEnders. “The television landscape has changed significantly since the Writers’ Academy was founded in 2005,” said Head John Yorke, a former Controller of BBC d rama productions. “This is why we’re appealing to a bigger pool of writers than ever before to find the next generation of original series creators.” Applications open this Friday and will close on Sunday April 3.