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Screen Australia announces $1.7 million for below-the-line training initiatives

Training initiatives are taking shape, with the agency unveiling the recipients and host companies for BTL Next Step, the Production Crew Skills Training Fund, and the Transferable Skills and Returning Crew Training Fund.
July 27, 2023
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As seen on INSIDE FILM.

Screen Australia’s below-the-line training initiatives are taking shape, with the agency unveiling the recipients and host companies for BTL Next Step, the Production Crew Skills Training Fund, and the Transferable Skills and Returning Crew Training Fund, while also announcing $1.7 million of industry development funding across the programs.

Launched in April, the skills development opportunities were aimed at boosting below-the-line capacity, including support for mid-career practitioners, work-based learning opportunities, and training for people from adjacent industries or returning to screen after a career break.

There are 12 recipients of the Production Crew Skills Training Fund, three recipients of the Transferable Skills and Returning Crew Training Fund, and 12 host companies providing 14 placement opportunities for mid-career practitioners through BTL Next Step.

Screen Australia head of industry development Ken Crouch said the agency’s focus was on empowering practitioners at all career stages and providing them with the necessary skills and expertise to thrive in the screen industry.

“I am thrilled that this funding includes a range of professional development opportunities for both emerging and experienced screen workers and is going to set them up for success,” he said.

“Dynamic and responsive screen businesses are crucial to the success of these programs, and we have selected 12 host companies for BTL Next Step, each recognised for their skills and talent in the field. These companies will play a pivotal role in training applicants, offering valuable work-based learning experiences to nurture the next generation of highly skilled crew members.

“As the production boom continues in Australia, so too does the ongoing need for skilled practitioners in these below-the-line roles to keep up with the demand. By providing essential training we ensure that Australia continues to build its reputation for developing great crew. This commitment is integral to sustaining the growth of our vibrant screen industry.”

The recipients of the Production Crew Skills Training Fund are:

Australian Screen Editors (ASE): The First Cut skills development project addresses the chronic shortage of broadcast-and-streaming-ready editors. The program will target well credentialed emerging editors from every background to participate in a paid mentorship program across scripted and factual / documentary, resulting in those editors achieving their first television credit.

Bunya Entertainment and BBC Studios – The Office Production: The Office production will be supporting mid-level crew members by providing them opportunities to develop new skills and training to progress their careers. A selection of four BTL crew will work alongside The Office heads of departments for a period of eight weeks in total through Bunya Entertainment and BBC Studios. The attachments will include script supervisor, production designer, grip, and marketing/EPK. This initiative will be delivered in partnership with Prime Video.

Cheeky Little Media: Cheeky Little is spearheading new animation pipelines and techniques in their use of the gaming software, Unreal Engine for long-form animation. This project will allow Cheeky Little to contribute to expanding the UE workforce in Australia by designing and executing a pilot training program for Unreal Engine practitioners, with the aim to establish the training as an ongoing program.

CJZ: The Skills Development project will fund a post producer, shooter producer, and edit assistant mentorships via CJZ’s landmark series Bondi Rescue, an observation documentary following the Lifeguards on Bondi Beach.

Dreamscreen Australia: Dreamscreen Australia has designed a trial program in partnership with Media Mentors which has been styled around the Apprenticeship Group Training Organisation model. As part of the program, three people will be recruited, for skills, aptitude and diversity that reflects contemporary Australia, with the view that they’ll be in the role of Studio Assistant for a significant amount of time.

Entertainment Partners, Powered by Moneypenny: This skills development plan aims to develop at least four skills development participants, two with payroll accounting skills and two with post-production accounting skills. Entertainment Partners will engage these participants to work on a wide range of payroll-specific and post-production projects. The skills development plan is structured over one-year to provide participants with five foundation and eight advanced work-based learning modules.

Flying Bark Productions: Flying Bark has identified four specific areas of training and learning development focus for their skills development officer: New staff in junior positions; newly promoted staff to first-time leadership and supervisor roles that require training around a mixture of soft skills; mid-level staff with some leadership experience now wanting to step up into other more senior HOD roles; and attracting highly-skilled technical people from adjacent industries with transferable skills.

Jungle Entertainment: This BTL Skills Development Plan will deliver crew training and skills development on an upcoming production. The training will expand knowledge and skills specifically targeted at access and inclusion.

Ludo Holdings: The training program will be designed to upskill designers and provide training on the design process for animators and art directors. This training will give crew the chance to work across and develop in multiple disciplines at the same time.​

Media Mentors Australia: Screen Careers – Stepping Up provides below-the-line management and leadership training for early career HODs or 2ICS ready to step up. It’s a country-wide, specialist screen industry HOD management training program, delivered and supported by people who understand production. It will be open to 100 people from around Australia via in-person and online formats.

NEP Australia: The goal is to train up to eight live audio specialists around Australia who can successfully work on outside broadcasts with a particular focus on live sport broadcast technology.

Screenworks: Screenworks’ Set for Success has been designed to address national skills gaps in mid to senior-level crew roles by seeking out regional crew and supporting them to step up into more senior roles on a production. Screenworks’ Set for Success will identify and train screen industry professionals as the mentors who will provide the guidance and onset training required to set regional crew members up for success in their new roles.

The recipient companies of the Transferable Skills and Returning Crew Training Fund are:

Media Mentors Australia: Screen Careers NT will connect early-career and returning BTL screen practitioners with employers in the Northern Territory. At the same time, Media Mentors Australia will find potential new entrants into the screen industries with transferable skills to add depth to the local industry.

Screen Well: Screen Well’s job-sharing initiative, delivered in collaboration with Racheal Rauch, aims to create a new pathway for screen workers to return to the industry, as well as create opportunities to upskill emerging practitioners and/or enhance the work-life balance of existing experienced practitioners. This initiative also seeks to pair mentor and mentee job sharers to bring workers back into the industry, and to upskill workers, particularly in roles where there are known crew and skills shortages.

Veterans Film Festival: Screen Warriors is a vital new program created through the Veterans Film Festival, providing training and screen career development for current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel. The new funding will help deliver a scale-up in the number of applicants the program can attract as well as serve dozens of currently registered participants through an introductory film and TV course tailored to address key high-demand, below-the-line (BTL) roles. It will also provide follow-up courses for those who wish to enter more specialised BTL roles and enable marketing of the graduates to production companies and heads of departments for employment opportunities. This initiative is delivered in an official partnership with the Australian Film Television and Radio School.

The host companies and employment opportunities supported through BTL Next Step are:

Cheeky Little Media: line producer (Sydney, NSW)
Cutting Edge Post: post-production supervisor (Sydney, NSW)
EndemolShine Australia: line producer (Sydney, NSW)
Jungle Entertainment: location manager (Adelaide, SA)
Like A Photon Creative: line producer (Brisbane, QLD)
Ludo Studio: location manager and production manager (two positions) (Alice Springs, NT)
ModelFarm Studio: production manager (Adelaide, SA)
Prospero Productions: production manager (Perth, WA)
Werner Film Productions: line producer (Melbourne, VIC)
WildBear Entertainment: post production supervisor (two positions) (Canberra, ACT)

Two positions – a production manager at Easy Tiger Productions and a post-production supervisor at Magpie Pictures – have already been filled.

Applications for these BTL Next Step opportunities close at 5pm AEST Thursday, July 27. Find out more information here.

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