ScreenSkills and S.O.U.L. Fest will launch PRO-CREATE, a year-long mentoring initiative to source and develop a new generation of Black British film producers, on Feb. 8.

The program aims to tackle the underrepresentation of Black producers across the film sphere, addressing it from a grassroots level. Successful applicants will benefit from enhanced knowledge in accessing finance, sales and distribution as well as key insights to the lifecycle of the business side of releasing a film.

The initiative will be part of the the educational strand for S.O.U.L. (Screening Our Unseen Lives) Fest 2021, an annual celebration of Black British talent, showcasing new shorts and features.

Partnering with ScreenSkills, the industry-led skills body for the U.K.’s screen industries, the program’s intention is that 50 selected mentees will come through, fully equipped to transition from short film to their first feature or high-end TV production, which may include starting up their own production companies.

Seetha Kumar, ScreenSkills CEO, said: “We know that mentoring can be critical in building confidence and resilience and extending professional networks, all of which are crucial assets for producers. We are really pleased to be supporting the S.O.U.L. Fest to deliver this practical program for aspiring Black film producers and look forward to seeing the impact of this initiative in years to come — in a more inclusive industry telling a greater diversity of stories that are recognized by the awards ceremonies of the future.”

Iyare Igiehon, S.O.U.L. Fest director and BBC creative diversity partner, added: “In our experience, producers are often the instigators, the catalyst, the force that brings storytelling teams together. We believe that encouraging and supporting diverse producers will naturally result in an uptick in authentic content and diverse stories.”

Applications for the scheme open Jan. 13 and close Jan. 29. More information about the program can be found here.

The initiative is supported by ScreenSkills using National Lottery funds awarded by the British Film Institute as part of the Future Film Skills program.