Recruitment has now launched for students to the UK’s second Centre of Screen Excellence which is designed to support the production hub at Elstree, Hertfordshire.

ScreenSkills has joined forces with Elstree Screen Arts Academy (ESA), Elstree Film Studios and the National Film and Television School to create the Centre of Screen Excellence: Elstree at ESA, the specialist screen arts training academy built on the former site of MGM British Studios.

This new Centre of Screen Excellence will offer creative and technical traineeships for 18- and 19-year-olds in areas of skills need and is supported by ScreenSkills with National Lottery funds awarded by the BFI as part of the BFI’s Future Film Skills strategy.

The Centre of Screen Excellence at Elstree Screen Arts Academy will deliver courses in costume, grip, hair and make-up, lighting and production assistant, which were developed with industry practitioners for the pilot Centre of Screen Excellence which launched in Yorkshire last year. Elstree Screen Arts is further developing its own courses to meet local demand including in art direction (2021) and sound (from 2022).

Up to 60 places will be available from this September in these six key skills shortage areas and candidates who successfully complete the course will receive a Centre of Screen Excellence UK Craft Skills Certificate.

Chris Mitchell, Principal at Elstree Screen Arts Academy, said: “We are so proud to be designated as a UK Centre of Screen Excellence, delivering traineeships at ESA in these in-demand jobs for the screen industry. It’s exactly what we are all about; providing motivated and talented young people from all walks of life with the specialist technical and creative training to break into the film and TV industries.”

Seetha Kumar, CEO ScreenSkills, said: “The collaboration between all those involved in this new centre is a fantastic example of how working together can create opportunities for young people from a wide variety of backgrounds and support the screen industries with a skilled pipeline of talent. Building an inclusive workforce is embedded in what we do and giving people the right tools to do a job well is an important first step.”

Ben Roberts, Chief Executive of the BFI, said: “This is an exciting step in our strategy to help train a wider workforce for the UK’s rapidly growing film and TV industry, using the first Centre of Excellence in Yorkshire as a blueprint for further centres around the UK. This new centre in Elstree will help the local area to capitalise on the industry’s increasing demand for skills.”

Roger Morris, Chair and Founder of the ESA and MD of Elstree Studios said: “I’m delighted to be able to join with ESA and ScreenSkills and the NFTS to provide vocational education and training for the creative industries and to provide young people with industry placements to ensure that they get the hands on training to be employable across our industry.  It is a testament to the team’s hard work at ESA over the last 8 years that they are now an integral part of this great initiative by Screen Skills and the NFTS for our rapidly expanding Film and TV industry.”

Gareth Ellis-Unwin, Head of Film and Animation, ScreenSkills and Academy and Bafta Award-winning producer, said: “We are delighted that the Centre of Screen Excellence: Elstree will build on the model developed and launched last year in Yorkshire so that young people and their parents and guardians can be confident in the training being offered and film and television benefit from a properly skilled local workforce. I shot both The King’s Speech and my film Exam at Elstree and am delighted to be continuing the connection by supporting local talent to get into an industry I love.”

Centres of Screen Excellence are designed to bring together local and national partners to build capacity in production hubs with a more inclusive, highly skilled workforce. Elstree and Borehamwood is home to a number of large studio spaces and production companies including Elstree Film Studios, Universal Production Services, BBC Elstree, BBC Studioworks and Sky Studios Elstree, opening in 2022.

Jon Creamer