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Home > News > March 2006 > 03-Mar-2006

Film mentoring programme gets underway

Top names from the world of filmmaking are taking on a new mentoring role to help support the next generation of UK film talent.

Guiding Lights, launched today by Skillset and Brighton-based training provider Lighthouse, pairs established names, including writer Julian Fellowes and producer Michael Kuhn, with 26 young filmmakers for 12 months of mentoring, advice and support.

The initiative is part of 'A Bigger Future', the UK film skills strategy. This is a joint project between Skillset, the sector skills council for the audio visual industries, and the UK Film Council, and is funded by National Lottery money and industry investment.

James Purnell MP, minister for film, said: "Mentoring is an excellent way to tap into the invaluable knowledge and skills of people with a vast working experience. And it's a rewarding way of sharing that experience and developing the people working alongside you. The film industry has embraced this idea through the Guiding Lights scheme and should be congratulated - as should Skillset and Lighthouse for creating and delivering this groundbreaking and innovative project."

Judy Counihan, director of film at Skillset, said: "Over 12 months these new talents will learn from the best and most experienced practitioners working in the UK film industry today. It is an amazing opportunity for young professionals to further their careers and for the industry to help nurture the new talent needed for future success. Our film industry always seems to suffer from a cycle of peaks and troughs and Guiding Lights is just one of many initiatives Skillset and the industry is working on to help build stronger foundations for the next generation of filmmakers."

Producer Norma Heyman said: "If the film industry is to flourish, training is essential. Therefore, it must bring in fresh talent and encourage it to reach exciting new heights. By identifying able young individuals and providing them with experienced professional mentors, the Guiding Lights scheme is perfectly designed to achieve this."

Sarah Flint, chief executive of Lighthouse, said: "Mentoring is an excellent way for new talent to gain a deeper understanding of their chosen profession. The 26 talented up-and-coming filmmakers we have selected for Guiding Lights will have a unique opportunity to learn from the extensive experience of top UK film professionals who can advise and assist them in formulating a clearly focused and structured route through the industry."

A nationwide call for applications for mentees opened in September 2005. Eligible applicants included writers, directors, producers, distributors, exhibitors, marketing executives, film publicists, sales agents, talent agents and business affairs executives who could demonstrate experience within the film industry.

Final selection of the successful candidates was made by the Lighthouse Project Team, a mentoring consultant and members of the Guiding Lights Steering Committee Chaired by Tim Bevan, co-chairman of Working Title. Having matched mentors and mentees, a personal development plan agreed with each mentee. As well as having regular monthly contact, mentees will also get the chance to shadow their mentor in the workplace.

Tim Bevan said: "Training in film is very difficult as most skills used in the movie business from producer to production runner are learnt on the job. This is why the concept of mentoring is such a good one for our industry. Having a formal bond where someone learning about their chosen career in the industry can have ongoing advice from someone with great experience should be invaluable and help in the demystifying of all of our roles."

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