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Is There a Skills Shortage in The Industry?

March 26th, 2010

training_noteSkillset – the industry body which supports skills and training for people and businesses – have revealed that there are serious gaps in the creative industries with shortages in the digital and multiplatform sector.

Research also suggests that one in two people in creative media feel they need training and nine in ten reported significant obstacles to getting this – including fees being too high (40%) and employers being unwilling or reluctant to pay for their training (34%).

Part of the problem appears to be that people are leaving colleges with qualifications that don’t suit employers’ needs. “Graduates make up 73% of the workforce,” says Skillset. “And more than half (53%) of all degrees held are media-related.” They continue, “Across the industry as a whole, perhaps the most significant gap is in the use of digital technology and knowledge of digital workflow.” The reason behind this, it would seem, is that many new entrants come with a good foundation of the necessary digital skills along with fine training, yet there are many experienced practitioners within the industry who have not yet made the move to digital, and it is they who are at risk of being left behind. So as the industry looks to fill the skills gaps it’s likely that it will find what it needs through freelance labour, something we are already seeing on Productionwizard.com.

While Skillset predicts that the creative sector has the potential to grow at twice the rate of the rest of the UK economy, it argues that this could be undermined if the skills shortages it has identified are not tackled.  Skillset chair and GMTV chairman, Clive Jones, (also on the board of the Young Vic Theatre, the Legacy Trust UK and the Runnymede Trust) believes that it is crucial that talent is nurtured and “the workforce is shaped up” and “the right people are in place to make this a reality.”

Some parts of the creative media have also experienced a worrying fall in numbers of women and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic workers, as well as an increase in people leaving in their 30s and 40s. Only this week Broadcast magazine highlighted “The missing 5,000: women in TV”. The figure was a reference to women who have left the media industry in the past three years, compared with only 750 men.

Bectu’s Sharon Elliot, who spoke at the ‘Women in TV – Is It A Young Girl’s Game? debate (organized by Media Guardian Edinburgh International TV Festival and Bafta), said that the industry was “immovable” and needed to respond to the “magnificent resourcefulness of women” that has been debated so much. She argued that women were not being encouraged to stay in the sector, found it difficult to re-establish themselves once they’d had children, and that production needed to change to allow for more flexibility for families (Broadcast, 26 March 2010, page. 7).

For those gaps in the creative sector Skillset have made recommendations and will aim to help narrow the gap by launching professional apprenticeships and internship programmes for the Creative Media Industries. By creating more Skillset-backed courses, and forging closer links to higher and further education, Skillset hope to narrow the creative skills gap and equip more individuals with the skills and experience needed. It’s a big ask.

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The Titles Race

March 19th, 2010

Bart SimpsonProbably the most famous opening title sequence on television is that of The Simpsons. The colourful cartoon whizzes through Springfield introducing each of the pivotal characters as you pay close attention with each episode to what Bart is writing on the school blackboard, and what happens as the Simpson family all reach home together and sit, fall, float (insert couch gag) in front of their TV. After two decades The Simpsons is running as strong as ever and must now be in its twenty-something series?

The Americans seem to be winning in the titles race with impressive opening sequences in Dexter, True Blood, Hung, The Sopranos and Mad Men. Do you remember the fun they had in The Muppet Show? “It’s time to play the music; it’s time to light the lights!” It’s all dance and razzle-dazzle, fun and frolics. Back in blighty, and our TV’s most popular shows, we have a winding view of East London and the Thames and a whining “do do do, do, do do do” trundle through a Manchester pebble street in the Eastenders and Coronation Street opening credits. Do you remember the old The Bill beginning credits, following two pairs of feet walking and, well just walking, that was it! Who even knows if they got to where they were going? That would be a case solved in itself.Eastenders

Composition theme tunes also play a pivotal role and can often – and rather annoyingly – linger with us years later. Think Eastenders and the closing DON DON, DON DON DON, DON DON DON, grating both over in one’s head, and to type. The Sweeney is usually favoured in this country with its theme tune and opening sequence in which John Thaw, Dennis Waterman, and seemingly everyone else in the cast, skid around in a Ford Granada, jump out and look menacingly at the camera before running down the street chasing criminals and then finish by causally strolling through a night time London smoking a cigarette. There really is no bettering the 70’s cop show. In America, ER proved to carry such popular original opening credits that they brought them back for the last ever episode in April 2009.

The X Factor theme tune O Fortuna, heard by millions on a weekly basis during the X Factor season, has been so popular that it was named the UK’s most widely-heard piece of classical music since records began. Carl Orff’s 1937 Carmina Burana oratorio topped the most-played recordings of the past 75 years, after receiving exposure from scary movie The Omen, aftershave ads for Old Spice and laterally as the tension builder intro to ITV’s realty talent show.

What are your thoughts? Do you have a favourite theme tune or opening/closing credits sequence, or have you worked on a prologue or opening  for a film or television show? Let us know.

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He’s Shiny and Gold and 13½ Inches High!

March 5th, 2010

academy-awards2

We’re approaching that time of the year again when the industry’s attention turns to Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre and to the 82nd Academy Awards. Interest and anticipation builds as we wait to find out who will cement their place in history. And not forgetting the detail: Who’s speech will be overly long?, Who will cry? Who is wearing Armani? Gucci? Will this be the year that an Animated Feature wins Best Film? And will a Native North American Indian take to the stage as an actor’s protest?

There will be gongs for both those in front of and behind the camera; Cinematography, Costume Design, Makeup, Sound Editing, Visual Effects, Screenplay Writing, are all categories listed for Oscars, making the event a true celebration for the motion picture industry and not just about actors, actresses and celebrities.

And the process is rigorous. The Academy’s roughly 6,000 members vote for the Oscars using secret ballots, which are then tabulated by Pricewaterhouse Coopers. The auditors maintain absolute secrecy until the moment the show’s presenters open the envelopes and reveal the winners on live television. Dun, dun, dun….

Although it measures just 13½ inches high, the Oscar statuette stands tall as the motion picture industry’s greatest honour. Officially named the Academy Award® of Merit, the Oscar is given in recognition of the highest level of achievement in moviemaking.

And what else…The first Academy Awards ceremony took place out of the public eye during an Academy banquet at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. 270 people attended the May 16, 1929 dinner in the Blossom Room; with tickets costing around $5. However, there was little suspense when the awards were presented as the recipients had already been announced three months earlier.

And the winner is? The UK’s BAFTA’s may have given an indication as to who will be walking away with what on the night, but until the envelopes are opened it is still very much in the balance. Here are our predictions for the top six nods:

Actor in a Leading Role: Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart”

Actress in a Leading Role: Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side”

Actor in a Supporting Role: Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds”

Actress in a Supporting Role: Mo’Nique in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”

Directing: “The Hurt Locker” Kathryn Bigelow

Best Picture: “Avatar” James Cameron and Jon Landau, Producers

soho-fun-run2And finally in some interesting UK news, a battered Doctor Who Dalek – with missing parts – was sold for more than £20,000 at auction last week. It drew the highest price at the sale of 160 props from the TV show at Bonhams in London. The price tag was three times the estimated £7,000. And if you attended last year’s Soho Fun Run you will have seen the Doctor’s tardis on the Production Wizard stall. It’s the only way for a Wizard to travel!

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