May 23, 2024

Following on the heels of a 2022 U.K. ScreenSkills report, the British production industry has sought to bulk up, responding to an urgent decree that urged local players to ready 21,000 new technicians for 2025. Those suggestions have grown ever the more imperative now that the recent stoppage waylaid a sizable chunk of the local workforce.

“[Once the strike ended] it was time for celebration — for a minute,” says Production Guild of Great Britain chair Bianca Gavin. “And then there’s a real challenge to make sure that we can service these productions [because] we have a long way to grow, to fulfill our potential.”

On that front, expanding accessibility and workforce diversity initiatives should play a salutary role, creating new opportunities for skilled and promising practitioners.

“We need to open up, to allow more people into the industry,” says Gavin. “Our industry skills gap shows that we cannot afford to lose any talents, so we have to find ways to support them, to set them up for success.”

Inclusion facilitator Bridge06 is one organization leading that charge. Touting the benefits of deaf, disabled and neurodivergent talent, and reaping industry expertise of co-founders’ Sara Johnson and Julie Fernandez — who, respectively, bring production experience from Sky, Fox and Keshet and on-camera turns in series like “The Office” — Bridge06 offers sourcing, training and support for productions interested in improving their crews with the help of on set access coordinators.

“We have an untapped workforce who are not used to being treated as best they would wish,” says Johnson. “[And to counter that,] we offer a really affordable role that projects can implement at the beginning of production, or even earlier, that can address those questions of accessibility.

“We’ll benefit from diversifying our crew base,” Johnson continues. “Because as the industry begins to recover, we can no longer ignore a new generation who know their rights, who are production-experienced and who expect to bring their whole selves to work.”

Meanwhile, leaders from various U.S. production industries will look toward next year’s anticipated boom with an eye on keeping some of those productions closer to home while hitting a global charm offensive.
Founded in 2022, the trade organization Film USA is an alliance of more than 50 regional, city and state film commissions meant to streamline and optimize communication and exchange across all 50 states, helping partners within the network to trade know-how and address staffing requirements, while giving international partners a one-stop shop and clear point of access.

“It’s easy for U.S. projects to go to the U.K. or France, or anywhere with a national agency that can answer all questions and reel in those productions,” says Film USA co-founder Katie Pryor. “Only that didn’t exist in the U.S. There was no one organization asking potential international partners what they needed and then helping to accomplish those goals.”

Delegates from Film USA will be at December’s Focus trade show in London while planning a Film USA pavilion during the 2024 Cannes Film Festival that could feature upwards of 20 partner film commissions.

“In Cannes, our No. 1 question comes from people looking for American co-production partners,” Pryor explains. “People ask, what can they do to come from [all around the world] to shoot here? And so we need to provide them with those resources so that we, in turn, can take advantage of that interest. It’s time to bring those international productions to the U.S.”

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