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MDX at forefront as creative industries and higher education work to improve pathways into film industry

MDX work to build powerful network could lead to job opportunities following £2.2m Film London funding boost

MDX has been named as a core partner of the Metro London Skills Cluster, in recognition of a commitment to enhance collaboration between the film industry and academia.

The University has a long-standing partnership with Film London, which has been awarded £2.2 million National Lottery funding from the British Film Institute (BFI) to deliver the Skills Cluster, in partnership with the National Film and Television School (NFTS).

The money will further bridge the gap between creative industries and Higher Education and provide screen production workforce training and development opportunities. There will be a significant focus on improving pathways into the industry.

MDX will work alongside London Higher, the Association of Colleges (AoC) and the Capital City College Group (CCCG) to deliver an integrated programme of activities across London, Hertfordshire, Surrey and Buckinghamshire.

These areas are home to major producers and studios including Elstree, Pinewood, Ealing, Twickenham, Shepperton, Leavesden, Longcross and Bovingdon, which serve as UK production centres for some of the biggest film and television companies in the world including Warner Bros. Discovery, Disney, Netflix and Amazon.

MDX students have already enjoyed various opportunities as a result of The Creative Academy Hub which was launched in January 2022 as part of the Mayor of London’s Creative Skills Academy.

Roles have included room supervisors, production carpenters and costumiers, 3D animators, game developers, technicians and production managers, in addition to non-creative roles related to legal issues, business and administration.

The Hub supports people from under-represented and disadvantaged backgrounds, including Black and ethnic minorities, young people, people earning below the London living wage, people with disabilities, the over 50s, single parents, caregivers and the unemployed.

It also provides screen skills training, education and more equal access to help people into paid positions across the film, TV, animation, VFX and games sectors.

Dr Eddie McCaffrey, an MDX Senior Lecturer on the BA Film programme, said that the university has been “at the heart of industry and academia collaboration”.

“Being named as a core partner is a reflection of our work with industry and other academic institutions and the commitment our senior managers make to these kind of collaborative initiatives,” he added.

“We are definitely at the forefront of this sort of work and it is a very exciting time,” he added.

Eddie’s role is to work closely with London Higher and consult both with the industry and within academia across London, to ascertain skills gaps and advise the Skills Cluster on how Higher Education can best address them.

MDX benefits in two ways: our students and graduates access training or the university provides training for our students and/or upskilling training for employees and freelancers across London,

“We can also benefit from insight,” Eddie said, “Now we have a seat at the table we will be talking to a number of industry and academic stakeholders to see if we can find a way to address the skills gap and graduate employability. That in turn helps us with recruitment and retention.”

The Skills Cluster programme replaces the ScreenSkills, a national funding strategy by the BFI to boost skills for the film and TV industry across UK.

It is now believed that money can be better spent by using clusters.

Eddie said: “BFI and Film London are recognising that we can only address student employability and industry skills gaps by industry and academia working together, in partnership. We need to break down silos and have higher education involved in discussions with industry.

“We need to collaborate, we need to connect and we need to co-create training and short courses.”

The film industry also benefits because academia can upskill the existing workforce and provide a number of multi-disciplinary courses in both creative and non-creative fields.

Adrian Wootton OBE, Chief Executive for Film London, said global demand for screen content is at an all-time high, creating opportunities at every level.

“It’s vital that we continue to develop our talented, diverse workforce here in London, to capitalise on the demand and fill thousands of new jobs being created,” he added.

Sara Whybrew, Head of National Lottery Skills Programmes, said: “There is no better time to be supporting the progression of diverse talent into and through this world leading sector. Screen culture should be accessible to all, which means screen workplaces must be too.”

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