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School’s in session

U.K. Film Council bows training academies

LONDON — A network of seven British film academies, backed by $9.3 million in private and public coin for the next two years, was unveiled in London on Tuesday.

Industry training body Skillset’s network, created to develop young talent and nurture existing industryites, is at the heart of a U.K Film Council education initiative launched in 2003.

It includes the country’s first Film Business Academy, which will offer the first MBA in film plus short technical courses, at London’s Cass Business School, where Tuesday’s launch was held.

“The industry is only as good as its workforce,” United Intl. Pictures CEO Stewart Till told attendees, who included producers Duncan Kenworthy, Nik Powell and David Thomson. Till is deputy chair of Skillset and chair of the Film Council.

Seven existing institutions qualified for screen academy status, including the internationally respected National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, England. Other successful bids came from Welsh and Scottish consortia, which submitted partnership bids.

Funding will come from lottery coin via the Film Council and from the public sector.

Many in the local industry have long been concerned about the lack of vocational training. Consequently, industry support for the Skillset training scheme is solid as reflected by the well-attended launch event.

The academies will have access to Skillset 100, a database of 100 industry players who will share their expertise through master classes, workshops and lectures.

James Purnell, the government’s recently appointed film minister, pledged to do his bit to raise funding for education.

Under the skills investment fund levy, U.K. films contribute 0.5% of their production budget up to a maximum of $694,000. The levy is voluntary unless a production receives public funding, in which case it’s mandatory. Purnell promised to make the levy mandatory in his speech at the launch. Some 65% of productions cough up the cash.

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