Category Archives: News

News| Nominations Announced for the British Academy Scotland New Talent Awards 2015

BAFTA Scotland New Talent Awards

(Image: 2014 winners)

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts in Scotland (BAFTA Scotland) has announced the nominations for the British Academy Scotland New Talent Awards 2015. The annual awards ceremony recognises, inspires and celebrates emerging practitioners from all over Scotland and gives up-and-coming screen industry talent an all-important platform to showcase their work to the wider industry. Thirty nine nominees have been selected across 13 categories by juries made up of industry professionals. 

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News| BBC Greenlights Steve McQueen Drama


Reposted from Broadcast

The BBC has formally commissioned its “epic” Steve McQueen drama about the experiences of a black community in west London. The corporation and UK indie Rainmark Films, the indie led by Game Of Thrones producer Frank Doelger and former BBC Films executive Tracey Scoffield, are aiming to shoot the anticipated six-part series in spring 2016.

McQueen, the Oscar winning 12 Years A Slave director, will direct and co-write the drama, alongside writers including Debbie Tucker Green, who won a Bafta TV award in 2012 for Channel 4 single Random. The series will chronicle the lives of a group of friends and their families living in west London between the 1960s and the present day. It has been in development since January 2014.

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Daniel Fajemisin-Duncan & Marlon Smith announced as British Urban Film Festival script judges

Daniel Fajemisin-Duncan and Marlon Smith have been unveiled as script judges for the 2015 British Urban Film Festival's live script reading competition. The climax will take place once again at Channel 4 headquarters on Friday 2nd October. Daniel and Marlon will be presiding over this year’s competition entries (together with the writer & director Julius Amedume) from which 3 will be shortlisted for a Channel 4 BUFF award in addition to their script being performed.
Daniel and Marlon are two of Screen International’s Stars of Tomorrow 2014 and co-wrote the four part crime series Run. Following the highly acclaimed series the pair went on to win the RTS Award for Best Drama Writer and the BAFTA Television Craft Award for Breakthrough Talent.

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Idris Elba ‘Journey of Self-Exploration’ Doc to Premiere at London’s BFI in April

article-2349925-1A83A6EF000005DC-292_634x475Reposted from Shadow and Act

Idris Elba's life, his relationship with his late father, and his preparation for playing Nelson Mandela in "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," are all at the center of a new documentary the actor is producing via his Green Door Pictures production company.

The 60-minute film will be directed by BAFTA-winning director Daniel Vernon, and will follow the "Luther" star on a "journey of self-exploration," says the press release, from his time in South Africa to film "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," the recording of the album based on his research for the role, and dealing with the death of his father. 

Nicholas Yearwood from Green Door Pictures said: "Green Door Pictures are delighted with the results of almost a year of filming. Daniel Vernon's film perfectly captures Idris's personal and professional challenges, whilst he tackled arguably the most iconic and important role of his career."

"Mandela, My Dad and Me" is premiering at London's BFI on April 7, with a limited theatrical release to follow in London. No word on a USA premiere yet, although I'm sure it'll travel, and may be picked up by a US cable TV network.

Alex Connock, managing director at co-financer Shine North, added: “What we love about this film is that it’s full on celebrity access – but without the sugar coating. It’s just real life; incredibly watchable, musical and moving.”

Zawe Ashton to Join New HBO Series from ‘Orange is the New Black’ Creator

Zawe AshtonReposted from Shadow and Act 

Brit Zawe Ashton has joined the cast of HBO's "The Devil You Know," a new pilot from "Orange is the New Black" creator Jenji Kohan. This marks Ashton's debut appearances on US television, alongside Damien Molony, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Ewen Bremner, Karen Gillan, Naian Gonzalez Norvind, Eddie Izzard, Ever Carradine, Hannah Nordberg and others.

"The Devil You Know" will look at the infamous Salem Witch Trials in 17th century New England, as neighbor was set against neighbor, leading a town to mass hysteria. 

Izzard plays farmer Thomas Putnam, the Puritan patriarch of the powerful Putnam family and a leader in agrarian Salem Village. Molony will play his eldest son, opposite Ever Carradine as Putnam's wife, while Rhind-Tutt portrays Minister Samuel Parris, a hard-line Puritan who isn't popular with his peers until the accusations begin flying. Hannah Nordberg will play his daughter, Betty, with Naian Gonzalez Norvind as his niece and Ashton as the Parris' slave brought from Barbados. 

Filming on the pilot is expected to begin this spring in Boston.

Assuming HBO picks "The Devil You Know" to series, it will mark Ashton's first USA TV series regular role, which should further introduce her to Stateside audiences.

Channel 4 launches 360° Diversity Charter


Channel 4 has set out a major commitment to leadership in diversity at every level of the organisation with the launch of its 360° Diversity Charter at an event held in Parliament on Monday 12th January.

The 360° Charter puts diversity at the heart of all decision making at Channel 4, across all activities on and off-screen, at every level and with all external partners and independent producers. It includes 30 significant activities worth £5m of investment and covers a wide definition of diversity including BAME, disability, LGBT, gender and social mobility. 

Headline activities within the Charter include the launch of Channel 4’s Commissioning Diversity Guidelines, the introduction of new in-house diversity targets for Channel 4 staff and leadership, the funding of seven diverse Deputy Commissioning Editors, and investment in a new generation of disabled production talent for the Rio 2016 Paralympics.

David Abraham, Channel 4’s Chief Executive said: “Diversity is baked into Channel 4’s DNA and our remit – it’s vital that we are open to the widest variety of voices, and that we nurture new talent from all backgrounds and reflect all of contemporary Britain.

“We have a rich heritage in pioneering programming that has reshaped how we think about diversity from Desmond’sand Queer as Folk through to the 2012 Paralympics, but like all media organisations, there is more we can do.

“The launch of our 360° Charter is an opportunity for us to change how we think about diversity and ensure that it’s at the very heart of everything that we do, on and off-screen.

“It’s a complex area but our goal is to create meaningful and long term change and I believe the commitments we’re setting out today are a significant moment in the history of Channel 4.”

The commitments outlined in the 360° Charter include:

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News| Buzzfeed: The Rise of the Black British Actor in America


With the recent release of Golden Globe nominated film 'Selma' which stars Brit David Oyelowo, Buzzfeed has written a piece on the rise of the black British actor in Tinsletown. Thandie Newton, Idris Elba, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Chiwetel Ejiofer have also been popular picks across the shores so with the suggested lack of opportunities for black actors in the UK, is this new black Brit actor renaissance the way forward for the UK's home grown talent? Whatever your opinion, click here to read the full article. 


Lenny Henry, Shonda Rhimes & Richard Ayoade named in the MediaGuardian 100 2014

Media Top 100 four upImage: The Guardian

The MediaGuardian 100 is an annual guide to the most powerful people in digital media, television, radio, newspapers, magazines, media business, advertising, marketing and PR. While Larry Page, Chief Executive of Google topped the list for the second year running, other features included Lenny Henry (who has spent the year championing diversity), uber successful showrunner and the BAFTA award-winning Richard Ayoade. For an interactive list of the full 100, click here.  

ABC’s Keli Lee in Conversation with Oona King on Diversity in TV [Part 2]

keli lee

Reposted from The GEITF

In the second part of our Q&A with ABC’s Keli Lee, we asked how her casting job works on a day-to-day basis; how she plans to expand her Talent Showcase and whether she can offer any advice to help boost diversity in the UK.

What does the role of executive vice-president casting, ABC, entail?

My role is unusual and unique even in the US in that I manage the casting for the Network and ABC Studios – which produces not only for ABC but for Fox, CBS, cable outlets etc. So the moment there is an idea on the Studio side, we help the producers sell their show, saying, ‘can we attach talent, can we package that show, let’s put together a shortlist’, so that’s on the development side before it’s even pitched to the Network.

On the Network side, any show idea that has an actor attached as a producer or an actor, I’m in those pitches.  So the conversation is, ‘ok this person has this idea, is this the right show for ABC and is this the right character for this person?’ And these are the discussions early on before there’s even a script. Of course, we’re the most involved right before we’re greenlighting some of these scripts, and of course, during pilot season.

So you are the person that decides at the end of the day?

It’s completely collaborative. It’s the vision of the creators and who they have in mind, but we ask whether they can write for this person every week – that’s so important. And then there’s the Studio executives and Network executives  – it’s a conversation and a collaboration but ultimately if the writer feels this is the person they can really write for and is inspired by, we want to support that decision.

But if you don’t think the lead is going to work?

It’s a negotiation…it really comes down to who is the most passionate.

What’s the biggest challenge in making diversity mainstream?

Comedies are harder because if that comedy writer is writing about a personal experience and that writer grew up in the Midwest, they are writing about what they know. That’s a challenge when it comes to adding diversity, especially if it’s about your childhood. If you think about The Goldbergs which is a really fantastic show, Adam Goldberg  is writing about his family and  it’s really hard to say: ‘can your sister be somebody else?’ 

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ABC’s Keli Lee in Conversation with Oona King on Diversity in TV

keli lee

Reposted from The GEITF

Keli Lee, executive vice-president, casting at ABC, was back in the UK by popular demand last week following her appearance at the TV Festival’s diversity session, Minority Report: Is TV Racist?

Her timing couldn’t have been more perfect. As she flew over from LA for our diverse casting event with Creative Skillset, one her shows was taking Twitter by storm. Black-ish, written by Anthony Anderson and starring Laurence Fishburne, achieved ratings which rivalled Modern Family’s opener, and looks set to become the first successful black sitcom on network television in a decade.

Lee casts for all of ABC’s scripted series – currently 37 – with shows such as Lost, Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal among the line-up. With a host of new Autumn shows starring people from ethnically diverse backgrounds, the network is receiving praise for having “the most diverse slate on US television.” (Hollywood Reporter)

How? We asked Baroness Oona King and Channel 4’s diversity exec to find out how Lee operates and what role her diverse casting initiative, something that has run for 13 years, has played in that.

Tell us about your background

I was born in Korea and moved to the US when I was 2-years old and growing up I wanted to assimilate. I wanted to be as American as possible and what is that? It’s television. But it was only when I was working in television that I stopped and asked ‘where’s the diversity? This is not real. How can we make this as real as possible? 

Did you feel like an outsider growing up?

I never felt like I really belonged and I think that’s the way a lot of immigrant families feel as well. Feeling like I didn’t belong made me empathise with so many different kinds of people.

Were your parents disappointed that you moved in to TV?

They still don’t understand what I do. Even when I was vice-president of casting at Disney they asked me when I was going to law school!

How did you get in to TV?

I had a summer job at Caroline’s comedy club – right before Roseanne and Seinfeld were about to get that shows. I was taking reservations and socialising with comedians and thought it was the greatest job in the world. One said ‘what are you doing with a philosophy degree? I’ll introduce you to a casting director at Warner Bros.’ I met her and asked her ‘what is casting?’ I was hired as an intern and my first job was as an assistant on Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven.

Progression at mid-and senior-level is one of the issues in the UK Did you ever experience a glass ceiling?

No I don’t think that’s an issue. And currently our head of network drama, head of studio drama, head of comedy, head of marketing and head of casting are all diverse.

There’s a 360 strategy on the workforce side and a mentoring programme aimed at everyone. But there arecertainly efforts and commitments to find as many diverse people as possible.

Why did you launch the diverse talent showcase?

The conversation I was having with so many producers and industry colleagues was we’re seeing the same diverse talent, where’s the rest. It was an issue of pipeline.

If that’s the issue I thought how do we find talent for you. I’d been to a lot of showcases and sat through them for hours so I created a showcase that lasts an hour, and leaves people wanting more.

The first 2 years we learnt a lot. We initially broke it down into 4 showcases for different ethnic groups but we then combined it into 1 fully diverse showcase. We interviewed 700 diverse actors in New York and 700 in LA. This year, we interviewed 7000 so it really has grown.

We have an ABC casting page, Twitter, Facebook.

What are the mechanics?

I do this in addition to casting for 37 series. When pilot series is over in April/May we release breakdowns for our showcase. We go through submissions and my team select 14-20 in each city.

We give them material which is written by diverse writers – who can have their work showcased to the whole industry – NBC, CBS, Fox, agents, casting directors.. – I keep it open because this is the early stage of their career and I want to give them as many opportunities as possible. ABC is never going to have enough so we need a combined effort.

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