News| Steve McQueen: UK industry ‘hugely behind’ on diversity


Reposted from ScreenDaily 

12 Years A Slave director Steve McQueen has told ScreenDaily that the UK film industry is “hugely behind” when it comes to employing a racially diverse workforce.

“The UK is behind on that, hugely. I think it has to be seriously looked at. Whatever I can do to help on that personally, I’m up for. It can’t continue,” he said this week in London.

Virtually none of the leading production, distribution, sales and finance companies in the UK are led by non-white executives and few of them can count many BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic people) employees among their senior executive ranks. There is a similar picture among the public financiers, talent agencies, post-houses and studios.

“I don’t know why that is,” said BAFTA-winning director McQueen. “I didn’t meet one black person when I was making Hunger. On Shame, I didn’t meet many at all, though American crews are more mixed. I’m often the only black person there [on the set].”

Asked how he thought the industry could improve the lack of ethnic diversity in its ranks, Shame and Hunger director McQueen pointed to a perception problem but also said that those in positions of authority needed to be held accountable: “How does it happen? Does it happen at schools? People often look at the movies and see it as a Mecca on a hill but actually it’s like any other job…I don’t know the answers. I know I don’t like it. It’s something to make executives answer, make them feel uncomfortable about and maybe they’ll do something about it.”

This year Creative Skillset figures revealed a decline in BAME representation in the UK production, distribution and exhibition sectors between 2009-12.

BAME representation in full-time film production dropped from 12% in 2009 to 5.3% in 2012.


News| London Live Unveils ‘Multicultural’ News & Current Affairs Anchors


London Live presenters Gavin Ramjun, Claudia-Liza Armah, Louise Scodie and Marc Edwards

Reposted from The Guardian

Local TV channel London Live has unveiled a team of four to anchor its news and current affairs coverage, with presenting backgrounds that include France 24, This Morning, the BBC and the Jewish Chronicle. The channel, backed by London Evening Standard and Independent owners the Lebedevs, said that it worked through 5,000 applications to pick "multicultural and multi-talented individuals" to reflect the diversity of the capital.

The team consists of Marc Edwards, a presenter on France 24 and EuroSport who also voiced Danny Boyle's London 2012 opening ceremony; Louise Scodie, a broadcaster and writer with credits including Marie Claire, the Jewish Chronicle and shopping channel; Claudia Liza Armah, who has presented BBC3's 60 Seconds news update and BBC News Interactive; and Gavin Ramjaun, who has worked on ITV's This Morning and Daybreak as well as CBBC Newsround and BBC Sport.

"Our presenter team is a fantastic mix of multicultural, multi-talented individuals who reflect the audience they'll be talking to every week," said Vikki Cook, London Live's head of news and current affairs. The former Sky News executive says that the aim is to give the channel, which is billed as the biggest launch since Channel 5 in the 1990s, a "very distinctive look" compared with rivals BBC London News and ITV's London Tonight.

The team will front London Live's five-and-a-half hours of news a day. There will also be at least one hour of original current affairs programming and a documentary strand to showcase digital film-makers. London Live said it is close to announcing a number of on-screen video journalists.

In October, London Live announced that it was recruiting 50 people, including on-air talent and producers, to fill its as-yet-unfurnished studios in Derry Street, west London. The 24-hour channel has a slimline programming budget of £15m a year – a third of the cost of the BBC News Channel. From 2014, London Live can also bid for £5m a year in licence fee money from the BBC until 2017.

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News| Should Twitter play a part in deciding TV shows’ future? via The Guardian


The Wright Way

(The Wright Way: BBC1 dropped the Ben Elton sitcom after it faced criticism on Twitter)

Via The Guardian

Twitter's increasingly hand-in-glove relationship with TV was highlighted again on Sunday night, with nimble-footed ITV responding to the loss of signal for X Factor and I'm a Celebrity viewers in central and northern England by keeping them up to date via the hashtag #BlankScreenUpdate.

However, on the flipside, some industry executives have expressed concerns that Twitter's realtime feedback loop could be killing new shows at birth, with negative social media reaction preventing them finding their feet and building an audience over several series.

Earlier this year BBC controller of comedy commissioning Shane Allen warned that the instant reaction and "crucifying" of new comedies on Twitter made it harder for new programmes to bed in. BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore, speaking on Monday at a Bafta breakfast in London, played down the impact that social media networks such as Twitter had on TV executives and the chances of shows being given second series, saying it was "just one element of the feedback we are getting".

To read the full article, click here

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Web Series Star Aaron Fontaine Lands Role in Hollyoaks



Aaron Fontaine as Sonny Valentine in Hollyoaks

Reposted from Digital Spy

Hollyoaks bosses are bringing back Sonny Valentine with a new actor in the part. Aaron Fontaine, who starred in the web series Venus vs Mars, has been cast in the role of Sonny and has already started filming with the Channel 4 soap. Viewers will see Sonny arrive back in the village in January, shaking up life for the McQueen family. Long-time fans will know that Sonny is the brother of Carmel's late husband Calvin Valentine. As Calvin was killed by Theresa McQueen (Jorgie Porter) in 2010, the return of Sonny could bring back bad memories for all concerned. Show chiefs have a dramatic storyline on the way for Sonny, but full details of what's in store are being kept under wraps. 

Speaking to Digital Spy, Fontaine commented: "Joining Hollyoaks has been a great experience. There are lovely people here and everyone has been really welcoming."

Hollyoaks is Fontaine's first TV job but he has previously worked in a number of theatre and short film projects.

Sonny was previously played by Devon Anderson between 2006 and 2007, who then on went on to play Billy Jackson in EastEnders.

Congrats and good luck to Aaron!

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News| Jamelia lands a seat on ITV’s Loose Women


Great news for singer/songwriter/TV personality Jamelia – she has only gone and secured a seat on ITV’s panel show Loose Women! Her first show will be Wednesday 27th November so be sure to tune in and show your support.

Jamelia said: "I’m absolutely chuffed to become a Loose Woman! I'm really looking forward to sharing my thoughts and feisty opinions with the other women and the viewers and can't wait to get my teeth into some great debates and to discuss issues that really matter." 

Jamelia secured her first recording contract at the age of 15 and has enjoyed a series of hit singles and albums. She has presented an array of television shows and documentaries including BBC Three’s Whose Hair is it Anyway and appeared as a coach on The Voice of Ireland.  

Congrats Jamelia!

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News| BFI report highlights box office success of films written or directed by women


Beeban Kidron filming Bridget Jones

Reposted from Screen Daily. Image from The Guardian

The BFI has released new research highlighting the successful box office performance of UK independent films with a female screenwriter and/or director.

Women are severely under-represented in writing and directing roles in the film industry. On UK independent films released between 2010 and 2012, just 11.4% of the directors and 16.1% of the writers were women. However, according to the research for the top 20 UK independent films over the same period, 18.2% of the directors and 37% of the writers were female.

The snapshot is small but encouraging.

The picture is still more encouraging on what the BFI terms “profitable” UK independent films, where 30% of the writers were female. The report also shows that films with female writers or directors were more likely to have female producers or executive producers, and have received financial support through BFI Lottery and BBC Films or Film4. Earlier this year, the BFI’s statistical yearbook revealed that UK women writers declined from 18.9% of total writers (to have had films made) in 2011 to 13.4% (25 writers) in 2012. The picture for women directors was bleaker, with men accounting for 92.2% of directors on UK films in 2012, an increase of more than 7% year-on-year. This translates to 165 male directors in 2012 compared to 14 women directors.

Two weeks ago, Number 9 producer Elizabeth Karlsen told the audience at Screen International’s Diversify conference that male commissioning editors, women’s history being silenced and unconscious bias were all still hindering women in the UK film and TV industries. On the same panel, My Brother the Devil director Sally El Hossaini said she had faced prejudice when it came to the funding of her film:

“A public financier told my producer: ‘She’s a nice woman, can she really do a film about all these guys?’ That spurred me on.”

More positively this year Creative Skillset’s 2012 Employment Census highlighted that the number of women in the creative media industries has grown by almost 16,000 since 2009, with representation rising from 27% to 36% of the total workforce. In response to the gender gap, in October the French film industry and government signed an equality charter calling for 50:50 female to male ratios on festival and funding commissions and equal pay.

The full BFI report ‘Succès de plume? Female Screenwriters and Directors of UK Films, 2010-2012’, is available here:

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Joanna Lumley Meets in BBC One Documentary


Joanna Lumley to interview for new BBC1 documentary

Reposted from BBC website. Image via Radio Times

In a one-hour film set to air in 2014, Joanna Lumley returns to BBC One to spend time with – the man who has intrigued her since she saw him carrying the flame on the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay across Britain.

Joanna travels to Los Angeles, California to meet on his home turf – spending time with him at his mansion in Los Feliz, meeting his friends and family, and returning with him to his childhood home in the social housing projects of Boyle Heights in East Los Angeles. She accompanies as he journeys back to his old elementary school where the course of his life was changed forever by an inspirational teacher John Wright, and watches him compose and create a special song about his mother.

Charlotte Moore, Controller of BBC One, says: “In this very special documentary for BBC One, Joanna Lumley spends time with the intriguing, hanging out with his friends and family and delving into his background to find out just what motivates this extraordinarily driven individual who seems more than anybody else to define the pace, energy and creativity of the time in which we live.”

Joanna will be talking to about his childhood growing up in one of the toughest areas of Los Angeles, his school days and early moves into the music business, his massive success with The Black Eyed Peas and subsequently as a solo artist too, his relationship with President Obama, his work on The Voice, and the many ventures to which he devotes his time.

Emma Willis, Head of Documentary Commissioning for the BBC, says: “We’re absolutely delighted to be welcoming Joanna Lumley back to factual television on the BBC. Joanna is one of Britain’s most popular personalities and will bring warmth and insight to this unique documentary.”

Joanna Lumley Meets (1×60-minute) was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, Controller, BBC One and Emma Willis, Head of Documentary Commissioning. The film will be executive produced by Mark Wells for Rain Media Entertainment, Steven Lappin for Big Red Productions and Maxine Watson, Commissioning Editor for the BBC. It will be produced and directed by Adrian Sibley.

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EVENT| Diversify Conference Round Up


Oona King

Last week (13th November), the Diversify conference took place at Bafta HQ in London. Hosted by Broadcast and Screen International, the event was a timely one off the back of the recent Creative Skillset report that highlighted a significant decline in the representation of BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) people in the industries between 2009 and 2012.

Attended by those both already working and apsiring to work in the television industry, the all-day conference discussed reasons why achieving better diversity results is still a struggle and what action needs to be taken. Please see below for a round up of comments (click the links to read the full articles via Broadcast). 


News| Channel 4′s Tabitha Jackson Lands New Role at the Sundance Institute


via Broadcast

Channel 4 arts commissioner Tabitha Jackson is to leave the broadcaster to head up Sundance’s documentary programme in the US. Jackson, who ordered shows including All In The Best Possible Taste With Grayson Perry and When Bjork Met Attenborough, will leave C4 before the end of the year to become director of the Documentary Film Programme at the Sundance Institute.

C4 is now searching for a replacement and in the interim Jackson’s forthcoming projects are expected to be covered by Ralph Lee’s team of factual commissioning editors.

The Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organisation founded by Robert Redford, running alongside the Sundance Film Festival, which helps fund emerging independent screenwriters and directors. Jackson’s new role is based in Los Angeles but she will also spend time in New York. She will run a commissioning fund that will help finance up to 25 independent documentaries a year. Jackson will be working with fledgling producers from across the globe to fund docs and is keen to work with indies from the UK.

“It is very much an international role, designed to get in early and support film-makers from around the world,” she said. The fund, which was set up in 2002, has already provided nearly $15m (£9m) in funding for more than 600 documentary films in 61 countries. Films it has backed recently include docs such as Sweden’s Concerning Violence, Chile’s Children, New Zealand doc Flickering Time Bomb and a yet-to-be-titled whale-hunting doc from UK cinematographer Mike Day. In addition to funding, the institute operates creative documentary labs, hosting a number of events for new fi lm-makers throughout the year.

Jackson, whose most recent commissions are Grayson Perry follow-up Who Are You? and Charlie Brooker’s How Video Games Changed The World, will replace Cara Mertes. The latter left Sundance earlier this year to join social justice film-making programme JustFilms, which is backed by The Ford Foundation.

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News| BBC Exec Pat Younge says US TV industry is more favourable to ethnic minorities


Pat Younge

Reposted from The Guardian 

The BBC's most senior black executive has said he would have had a better and more lucrative career in the US because its television industry is more favourable to ethnic minorities. Pat Younge, who will leave his post as chief creative officer of BBC Productions at the end of this year, said there was still a lack of big, meaningful roles for black actors in UK drama, despite recent high-profile hits such as Line of Duty and Luther. Younge said it was "inconceivable" that a US drama would not have a black person in a prominent role because of the proportion of black viewers among its audience. But he said there were no roles for Chinese or Asian actors in the US, who he said were "frankly knackered".


The outgoing BBC executive, who has previously said British TV is run by a "pretty white commissioning and channel elite", said it is a pattern that is reflected behind the scenes in the UK. "I have lived in both [the US and the UK]. I would rather personally live in Britain as a culture, as a society, in terms of how different races live together and rub along side by side," Younge told Nicky Campbell on Radio 5 Live breakfast on Friday"In terms of the economics of being a black TV executive, I would have a much better career and a much more lucrative career in the States because the economics of the industry drive it that way," he said. "First of all, the US has a bigger drama industry than we do here and secondly, African Americans make up one in eight of the population, there is an economic driver for the production companies and networks to include black actors…It's inconceivable in the States that you would have a significant drama that does not have a black person in a lead or second lead role."

Younge said there was anger among black actors about the "paucity of parts" for them in homegrown TV drama. "What they mean by parts isn't work – there is probably work out there – what they mean are meaningful roles which are fully rounded and have a decent back story." Younge said: "If you look at the last couple of years, Dancing on the EdgeSmall IslandLutherThe Shadow LineLine of DutyTop Boy, it's not that there aren't parts, the challenge is in the writing…The challenge we face in UK TV is can we get more black writers through the system who can create these rounded parts, that will give these actors the work they are looking for."

To read the full article, click here

What do you think is holding diversity back in the UK television industry?

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