Upskilling training scheme delivering Scots drama and movie producers

A TRAINING scheme designed to increase the number of Scots with the necessary skills to produce TV dramas and movies marked the completion of its first phase today.

The completion was marked by Angela Constance – the skills and lifelong learning minister in the Scottish Government – attending the set of the BBC Scotland soap, River City.

The pilot is being supported by Skills Development Scotland, BBC Scotland, media and entertainment trade union BECTU and Skillset, the creative industries training body. Some £250,000 cash is being ploughed into the scheme, plus a further £250,000 in-kind support, from BBC Scotland, via training provision from their training academy and mentoring from senior executives, and from BECTU via support for a staff member to head up the scheme.

The programme has so far seen four Scotland-based future producers given on-the-job training to build the skills necessary to lead production teams, develop scripts and secure commissions. For instance, David Hancock, previously a locations manager, is now working within the editorial team on a drama about the early career of the vet, James Herriot, pen name of Alf Wight. Meanwhile, Lizzie Gray, a former script editor, is now producing on River City, while Julia Valentine is co-producing a feature film, Ashes, starring Ray Winstone.

The scheme will train another 17 people over the next 14 months.

Says Michael Wilson, heading the scheme: “We’re trying to fast-track local talent in the hope it will result in more employment opportunities for Scotland-based crews and stimulate growth of local infrastructure. The chances are a Scotland-based producer will use Scots crew and local production services, which is good for the Scottish sector, in a way that a non-Scotland-based producer coming up to work in Scotland might not. Traditionally, many productions are borne out of London and local talent has often found it difficult to compete for these senior positions.”

In a statement issued by the Scottish Government, the creative industries sector in Scotland is valued at £5.2 billion a year.

Constance is quoted, saying: “The creative industries is one of the Scottish Government’s priority sectors due to its economic potential. Its current worth is more than £5 billion and the opportunity for growth is vast. Creative Scotland’s ambition for the sector is to increase turnover by more than £100 million and create more than 1500 new jobs during the next three years.

“That is why it is absolutely right that the Scottish Government, alongside the BBC, unions and the sector skills council, Skillset, continues to invest in this industry and reap its full economic potential.

“River City has been the perfect showcase for this announcement. The talent behind and in front of the camera shows why we must harness our homegrown talent and ensure Scotland is a place of opportunity for creative leaders.”