The boom in high-end TV production in the UK has led to a record £2.6 million paid in contributions to Creative Skillset’s High-end TV Levy Fund.
More than 100 high-end productions including Game of Thrones, Poldark, Luther, Derry Girls, The Durrells, Black Mirror, Shetland, Call the Midwife and Peaky Blinders, made the payments into the High-end Levy TV Fund which supports skills and training courses.

The courses include Trainee Finder, the entry-level TV drama placement programme, and Make a Move, which offers on-the-job training for crew identified by productions as ready to move into a more senior role. Creative Skill set says that more than 1,000 people benefited from levy-supported training last year.
Kaye Elliott, Creative Skillset’s Director of High-end TV, said: “The continuing success of British and International production companies in producing compelling drama in the UK means that the work investing in next generation talent and crew, funded through the levy, is ever more important.
“There is an ongoing challenge in making sure the UK can continue to offer a highly-skilled workforce to home-grown and international productions. It is our job is to work with industry to champion the importance of continued investment in skills, to ensure we can meet the demand for today and the future.”
Alison Barnett, Head of Production at Kudos, said: “Although drama budgets are still challenging, it is incredibly important for everyone to pay into the HETV Levy. I’m a great fan. We’ve had people on training schemes at all levels and they have been a huge success.
“As an industry, we have skills shortages in every single department and in some cases people are moving up too quickly, and they’re not having proper training; so what is particularly important is the upskilling Creative Skillset offers, which is fantastic.”
Kudos paid the levy on productions this year including Troy: Fall of a City, Gunpowder, Tin Star, Humans and The Tunnel: Vengeance where the company partnered with Sky and Creative Skillset on offering training to six BAME new recruits on location in Deal, Kent.
Debbie Vertue, Director of Operations at Hartswood whose past contributions include for Sherlock, said: “It is wonderful that more than 90 per cent of indies are paying the HETV levy, particularly as it is voluntary.
“It not only allows Creative Skillset to plan and deliver a breadth of excellent training and opportunities but also provides sufficient funds for them to research and engage with HETV companies on the ever-growing demands of high-end television production and to continually update where the skills gaps are.”
Barry Ryan, Head of Production at Warp Films which paid the HETV Levy last year on The Virtues, the Shane Meadows TV series for C4, said: “The courses and programmes supported by the High-end TV Levy are incredibly important for their impact in the regions.
“As a regional company, based in Sheffield, it is crucial to have a resource for skills development, whether that is inspiring new entrants to enter the industry or encouraging established crew to enhance their careers.”
The fund is managed by Creative Skillset under the governance of the High-end TV Council and industry-led working groups. It was established to support the skills of the next generation of high-end TV talent. It was established as part of the consultation with the Government on high-end television tax relief, with agreement that all productions intending to take advantage of the tax credit would contribute.

In 2017/18 the HETV Levy supported 1,086 individuals to begin or progress their careers including directors, writers, producers, craft and tech and production grades, post-production and VFX personnel as well as new entrants across a host of grades. The investment helped skills development for crew and talent on drama productions including Outlander, Victoria, Call The Midwife, Noughts and Crosses, Come Home, Poldark, Save Me, Game of Thrones, The Virtues and Safe.

This included:  
    •    67 trainees who had a total of 95 placements as part of Trainee Finder, which places trainees on productions
    •    73 individuals across 45 productions through the Make a Move programme, which provides step-up funding for accountants, producers, costume, line producers, production managers and coordinators  eg a production runner to production secretary and a costume assistant to junior costume standby on Come Home
    •    224 people attending four intensive HETV bootcamps across the country
    •    Five new HETV producers, 10 directors, 17 production accountants and 17 line producers. New producers supported as part of the programme include Katie Bleakley on The Virtues for Warp, Louise Say, co-producer on Les Misérables for BBC One, and Andy Morgan on Safe for Red. 
    •    Fifty mid- to senior-level crew to further their industry connections as part of the HETV Connect programme. 

More than £9 million has been collected by the HETV Levy in the five years since it was introduced. The figure collected in the first year, 2013-2014, was £764,477, rising to £2,447,725 in 2016-2017 and then £2,641,350 from 105 productions in 2017-2018.

The figures for the Skills Investment Fund commonly known as the film levy will be also released shortly.

Jon Creamer

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