The BFI today hosted a special event at BFI Southbank to celebrate the BFI Film Academy’s 10th anniversary and the next generation of talented filmmakers it has supported. The flagship education and skills programme offers young people from anywhere in the UK, and from any background, opportunities to work in an exploding industry that is calling out for new talent. Since it launched in 2012, almost 9,000 places have been taken up by young people who have put down strong foundations for a career in film and television production.

The event included an onstage conversation with Candice Campos, Lucasfilm’s VP of Physical Production,  and Ben Roberts, BFI Chief Executive, along with previous BFI Film Academy’s Future Skills trainees Ravi Ghelani and Cecily Bedner, who worked on Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker and Andor respectively.

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This year 53 Future Skills trainees have had paid work placements on three Lucasfilm productions: feature film Indiana Jones at Pinewood Studios, high-end TV series Willow, currently shooting in Wales, and Andor, also shooting at Pinewood Studios. The trainees are working across a variety of roles including lighting, sound, productions finance, video DIT, editing, props and production.

Also in conversation were BFI Film Academy alumni and Screen International Stars of Tomorrow editor Mdhamiri Á Nkemi (ear for eye, Blue Story and The Last Tree) who took part in 2013, and BAFTA-nominated writer-director Charlotte Regan (0121, Scrapper, No Ball Games, Oats & Barley), who also participated in a BFI Film Academy course in 2013. Broadcaster and creative director Gaylene Gould chaired the event.

The BFI Film Academy includes introductory hands-on filmmaking courses at 50 locations across the UK, enabling young people to build knowledge and skills and discover the different pathways into the industry. Working with a range of training providers, including the National Film and Television School, additional specialist residential courses bring young people together from across the UK to focus on areas such as documentary, animation, VFX, programming and craft skills. All graduates from the BFI Film Academy are supported through an alumni programme that includes access to BAFTA career surgeries and mentoring. 

Since 2016, the BFI Future Skills Traineeship Programme, developed in partnership with Lucasfilm as a pilot scheme, has been directly tackling the lack of diversity in the sector by providing opportunities for BFI Film Academy alumni from under-represented groups and from across the UK who are placed in paid roles working with experienced and talented professionals. Trainees receive a bursary to support them with relocation and travel costs that could otherwise be a barrier to their participation on the programme. To date 136 Future Skills trainees have been placed on productions including Lucasfilm’s Solo: A Star Wars Story, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, as well as Disney’s Black Widow and Cruella, and Eon’s 25th Bond film, No Time to Die (as part of the film’s dedicated trainee scheme).

Since completing the Future Skills programme 70% of the trainees have gone on to secure regular work on other productions and progress their careers on titles including Marvel Studios’ The Eternals and Doctor Strange, The King’s Man, Twist, Venom 2, Jurassic World 3, Blinded by the Light, Wonder Woman, Dumbo, Artemis Fowl, Bridgerton and Pennyworth series 2.

Actor Genevieve O’Reilly, who reprises her role as Mon Mothma from Rogue One in the Andor series, said in support of the BFI Future Skills Traineeship Programme: “Andor is such an exciting project to be a part of. I’m thrilled that the production, along with the BFI, are investing in opportunities to enable people from any background to work and gain experience in our industry.”

“The passion of BFI and Lucasfilm for creating talent in this industry has been the driving force behind the success of this programme, and will continue to be,” says Lucasfilm’s Candice Campos.

Ben Roberts, BFI CEO, said: “The Film Academy is the BFI’s flagship education and skills activity for young people. It’s so important to us as an organisation because it enables us to develop skills in young people at a time when the screen industries just continue to grow. We love to see the industry continuing to work with us to build more opportunities, such as Lucasfilm who worked with us to develop the Future Skills Traineeship Programme as the next stage for BFI Film Academy graduates, as well as the wider Disney family, and EON Productions for supporting trainees on the latest Bond No Time to Die. We want to make sure that the playing field is levelled for everybody who has passion and the commitment to work in film and TV production.”

BFI Film Academy also includes regular events for young people aged 16-25 online and at cinemas and other venues across the UK, as well as the annual BFI Future Film Festival.

The BFI Film Academy is supported by the Department for Education in England, The National Lottery, Screen Scotland and Northern Ireland Screen.