Warner Bros. Discovery Access, the talent development division for under-represented creatives, will launch new series of Black Britain Unspoken and the WBD Access Northern Writers’ Programme in 2024.

Black Britain Unspoken aims to give opportunity and voice to Black British filmmakers who are breaking into the industry. Launched in 2022, Black Britain Unspoken gives filmmakers a pitch-to-production experience, and an opportunity to bring their creative vision to life. Delivered in collaboration with Media Trust, three aspiring filmmakers will also be offered professional development and tailored workshops focused on media training and career progression. This year, Wall to Wall, part of Warner Bros. International Television Production, is joining the programme as production partner alongside Bounce Cinema, who partnered with Black Britain Unspoken in 2023.

To date, Black Britain Unspoken has identified and supported six filmmakers. The 2023 cohort included Alterior by Terrie Aghaizu, Beats From Heaven by Eden Igwe and Food, Music & Vibes by Monique Needham. Since taking part in Black Britain Unspoken, Eden Igwe has been awarded an Honourable Mention for her film at the UK Seasonal Short Film Festival, whilst 2022 filmmakers have had their films recognised at industry leading festivals such as Unscripted at the Edinburgh TV Festival and the International Shorts Film Festival.

The 2024 selected films will launch on discovery+ in October as part of WBD’s Black History Month celebrations in the UK.

Warner Bros. Discovery Access Northern Writers’ Programme, in partnership with Wall to Wall North and the Royal Exchange Theatre, returns this year and builds on the success of the newly designed 2023 programme, developed to create opportunities for talented writers from under-represented backgrounds from the North of England. The programme is tailored to writers who are new to television drama but already writing for theatre.

2023’s cohort of writers are Amy Lever, Cai Odu, Jasmin Mandi-Ghomi, Matt Gurr and Olivia Hannah who have just completed the programme. Spanning six months, the writers were given insight into how both industries work through a series of sessions, including a mock writers room, masterclasses with A-List writers and industry executives, learning how commissioning works from the inside, how to find an agent, and how to sustain a multidiscipline career. Speakers in 2023 included Russell T Davies (Doctor Who, It’s A Sin), Anna Jordan (Succession, YEN winner of the 2013 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting), Nora Skinner (HBO SVP, Drama Programming), Vinay Patel (One Day, Murdered By My Father, An Adventure) and Alice Ramsey (BBC), among others. The writers were also given support from Suzanne Bell, award-winning Dramaturg from the Royal Exchange,to discuss their stage work and receive expert advice.

The writers were supported to write their own original one-hour TV pilot. Each working one-on-one with a Script Editor and Executive Producer Sian Palfrey, Wall to Wall North, who provided them with editorial support to take their idea from pitch, to outline, and through two drafts of a script.

Asif Sadiq MBE, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Warner Bros. Discovery said, “We’re delighted to launch two further series of Black Britain Unspoken and WBD Access Northern Writers’ Programme in 2024. Now headed into their third series, we are so proud of these programmes and the fantastic talent we have been able to identify and support. Working with industry leading partners like Media Trust, Royal Exchange Theatre, Bounce Cinema and now Wall to Wall across two programmes – we’re able to not only improve access and opportunity but deliver best-in-class training, mentoring and experiences.

“It is only through targeted, dedicated programmes and ongoing industry collaboration that we can support emerging and underrepresented talent break into the industry. I am incredibly proud of the impact WBD Access programmes are making, along with our commitment and investment in supporting those already working in our industry through initiatives like CrewHQ.”

Sian Palfrey, Executive Producer at Wall To Wall North said: “It’s been a joy to work with Matt, Olivia, Amy, Jasmin and Cai, whose voices and talents truly represent the wealth of exciting storytellers we have across the North of England. To see their writing and confidence grow, to know they have felt championed and empowered to forge sustainable careers in both television and theatre, has been an unforgettable experience.”

WBD Access has also delivered programmes in the UK including House of the Dragon: Directors Shadowing Programme, which offered two emerging Directors an 11 month paid production placement on HBO’s House of the Dragon Series 2 set, and WBD Access x Rocksteady Studios Games Academy, a hybrid 12 week development programme delivered in collaboration with Rocksteady Studios, the makers of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, and Next Gen Skills Academy, designed to provide those from underrepresented backgrounds with new routes into the gaming industry.

In addition to the commitment to increase access to the industry for under-represented creatives, WBD has also broadened its skills offering with the launch of CrewHQ in November 2023. The new on-site training centre based at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden is designed to support existing crew, create career routes for people of all backgrounds and foster the next generation of Film and TV production talent.

Alongside the launch of these programmes, WBD is supporting several industry events and educational programmes in the UK and across Europe, dedicated to diversifying talent in creative industries and championing underrepresented communities, including BFI’s Future Film Festival, Berlinale Talents, Oska Bright Film Festival as well as supporting the National Film and Television School.3

More about Black Britain Unspoken and WBD Access Northern Writers’ Programme is here.

Jon Creamer

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