Young Londoners to work on major film productions as part of Mayor of London, NBCUniversal & Film London partnership

May 16, 2022

The ground-breaking talent partnership was announced by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, as he joined Dame Donna Langley DBE, chairman, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group and Adrian Wootton OBE, chief executive of Film London, at Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles.

It is estimated the UK film and TV industry will be worth over £6bn by 2024/25. Conservative projections estimate the UK film industry needs 50,000 jobs over the next few years. The meeting outlines the Mayor’s support for the booming sector. In 2021, film and high-end television production spend in the UK reached more than £5.64 billion, with much of the sector based in and around London, bringing unprecedented job opportunities.

Two of Universal Pictures’ large-scale franchises, Wicked and Fast X, will be filmed in London, and young Londoners from diverse backgrounds will take part in NBCUniversal’s Below-the Line Traineeship and work on the productions behind-the-scenes, thanks to this new partnership announced today between the Mayor of London, NBCUniversal and Film London. Trainees pipelined from Film London’s Equal Access Network (EAN) have already started work on Fast X as part of the partnership, working in the Props, Costume, Assistant Directing, Camera, Production and Digital Imaging Technician departments.

EAN is a Film London programme that helps Londoners from underrepresented communities enter the film and TV industry, and this new partnership will help the selected trainees graduate from the Mayor’s Creative Screen Sector Skills Academy. The Academy will be working closely with ScreenSkills and the BFI, and its direction will be complementary to the BFI’s Skills Review.

The Below-the-Line Traineeship, led by Universal’s Global Talent Development & Inclusion (GTDI), provides on and off-the-job training and mentorship across select below-the-line departments. The Traineeship was launched in California in June 2021 on Jordan Peele’s Nope to much success. With the increasing demand for experienced craft talent across the industry, this ground-breaking initiative has since been instated on more than a dozen NBCUniversal film and TV projects to cultivate the next generation of costume designers, prop masters, camera operators, technicians, and a myriad of other roles crucial to any production team.

Universal Pictures will bring thousands of jobs to the capital and the pairing of training at the Mayor’s Creative Screen Sector Skills Academy with on-set experience and mentorship from the heads of department on NBCUniversal productions provides a launchpad for employment opportunities in the film and TV industry.

The Mayor is currently on a four-day trip to America to support London’s economic recovery from the pandemic and promote the capital to international visitors as part of his new £10m international tourism campaign.

This success is highlighted by this new partnership with NBCUniversal and also by the company’s substantial investment in the state-of-the-art Sky Studios Elstree site which is being built just north of London. Sky Studios Elstree will enable £3bn worth of new production investment in the capital over the first five years alone, becoming home to a host of Sky Originals, as well as major film productions from Universal Pictures, Focus Features and Working Title, and television series from Universal International Studios.

Adrian Wootton OBE, CEO of Film London: “The announcement marks a truly exciting international partnership between the Mayor, Film London and NBCUniversal, doubling down on good intentions with real, tangible outcomes. I’m thrilled to be continuing our ongoing relationship with the U.S. to invest in the next generation of world-class crew – and content – for which the capital is renowned. Global demand for content is creating not only billions in revenue for London and the UK, but thousands of jobs at every level. This brings life-changing opportunities for Londoners, in a sector more invested than ever in long term growth in the capital. Equality of opportunity is vital, as is developing a diverse workforce that represents our city. This partnership provides people from underrepresented communities with direct pathways into training and paid roles in film and TV, building on the existing success of Film London’s Equal Access Network, and our new Creative Hub as part of the Mayor’s Creative Screen Sector Skills Academy, providing training and good jobs in the film and TV industries.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan: “I’m delighted to be at NBCUniversal today to announce that young London trainees will work behind the scenes on some of the world’s biggest blockbusters, such as Wicked and Fast X, which will be filmed in London. Our capital’s booming film industry is helping to drive our economic recovery, but it’s vital that we ensure that Londoners from all backgrounds can benefit. That’s why I’m so proud to announce this ground-breaking partnership with NBCUniversal and Film London that will see young Londoners from diverse backgrounds earn a unique opportunity to start their careers in the film and TV industry.”

Dame Donna Langley DBE, chairman, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group: “Building upon Universal’s commitment to provide opportunities for those from underrepresented backgrounds in the U.S., we’re thrilled to partner with Film London and Mayor Sadiq Khan on this new, first-of-its kind training partnership in London. Extending the Comcast NBCUniversal’s Foundation’s work to London is the natural next step for us with our deep history and ongoing connection with the U.K. and its thriving filmmaking community. Programs like this are vital to encourage equitable access and resources for emerging talent to explore careers in our industry”

Samuel Fagboyegun, DIT (Digital Imaging Technician) trainee: “I’m really grateful for the opportunity provided by Universal. So far I’ve had the opportunity to learn new skills and sharpen my knowledge on some of the skills I already have. This has helped open a door that was otherwise hard to get through.”

Sarah Jasem, props trainee: “I feel so fortunate to be given this once in a lifetime opportunity to learn and work in the props department for a major feature film, despite having no connections to the film industry. It’s been such a welcoming, informative experience because of the brilliant exposure that comes from being part of the crew since from day one. It’s allowed my first step in; and given me the option of an amazing long career.”

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