The Grierson Trust has announced the 12 young people who have been selected to join its Grierson DocLab new entrant training scheme.

This year’s trainees are: Sumaya Abdi (Cardiff), Phebe Brand (Southampton), Coleen Brennan (Edinburgh/Isle of Lewis), Dhillon Clarke (Glasgow), Lucy Cosslett (Girvan), Naomi Grant (London), Ela Griffiths (Cardigan), Hannah Ramezani (London), Melanie Rawson (Sheffield), Lucas Tong (London/Cardiff), and Nerea Zambrano (London).

Production companies supporting Grierson DocLab 2023 include: BBC Studios, Blast! Films, Dragonfly, Lightbox, Minnow Films, The Garden, TwentyTwenty, Wall to Wall, Wise Owl Films (part of All3Media), Wonderhood Studios, and Zinc Media, with more to be confirmed. DocLab is also supported by Blueberry Creatives, Clear Cut Pictures and Talented People.

More than three quarters of this year’s trainees are from outside of London, over half are from an ethnic minority background and half declare a disability.

Sylvia Bednarz, Managing Director of The Grierson Trust said: “Broadening our talent pool by enabling young people from a wide range of backgrounds to start a career in documentaries is essential to ensuring the continued creativity and success of factual content produced for television, cinemas and online. The GriersonDocLab programme delivers industry-leading work placements, mentoring and training in partnership with the UK’s top factual production companies. Their support is essential to achieving this objective and we’re thrilled to be once again providing the launch pad for a new cohort of young people making the move into documentaries.”

Grierson DocLab is run in partnership with UK factual indies with support from The Rank Foundation and provides 18-25-year-olds with a hands-on training and mentoring programme. DocLab trainees receive bursary-supported work placements within UK production companies where they will develop their skills and gain knowledge and industry contacts to become ‘job ready’ for a range of entry-level roles and ultimately a career in factual television.

Kate Ward, Managing Director, Factual at BBC Studios commented: “Over many years we have been lucky to work with outstanding talent through Grierson DocLab, and have a strong and thriving group of alumni still within BBC Studios. We are thrilled to extend our work with Grierson DocLab and welcome new trainees for 2023.”

Vanessa Tovell, COO, Lightbox, added: “We’ve consistently been impressed by the broad range of ideas and the boundless energy and commitment to docs that the Grierson DocLab trainees bring to Lightbox each year. We have also continued to work with a number of the alumni as they plot their course through the industry. We’re delighted to be taking part again this year and looking forward to meeting the new bunch and helping them achieve their dream of a career in factual television.”

2023 is the 11th year of the scheme. More than 120 DocLab alumni are now working across the TV industry in roles including producers, development APs, researchers, directors, and casting researchers, with the continued support of The Trust.

Amongst the Grierson DocLab alumni are: Cherish Oteka (2016) who won the Best Short Film BAFTA in 2022 for their documentary, The Black Cop; Poppy Goodheart’s (2013) Channel 4 First Cut short, The Boy Who Can’t Stop Dancing was shortlisted for a Rose d’Or 2022 in the Best Arts Category; Eloise Millard (2018) worked as an AP on the BBC Two doc series presented by Chris Packham, Inside Our Autistic Minds; Lauren Dawkins (2022), was credited as a Researcher on Kathy Burke’s most recent Channel 4 doc series, Growing Up; Ermias Asfaw (2021) produced the short documentary, The Archive: Queer Nigerian Project, funded by BFI Doc Society; and Chandler Pierre (2020) was credited as a Researcher on BBC Studios’ Fight the Power: How Hip Hop Changed the World.

Jon Creamer

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