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31 May 2024

Programme to Improve Sustainability of TV Production Breaks New Ground

A training programme for sustainability co-ordinators in the screen sector is thought to the be the first of its kind in the UK.

The first recipients of the programme, funded by innovation consortium Media Cymru, are receiving intensive training in response to the need for a more sustainable approach to high-end TV production.

The programme is being run in association with the University of South Wales and training providers Severn Screen and Earth to Action.

The eight-week training programme has been delivered by Ellie Ashton of Earth to Action alongside sustainability coordinator and trainer Tilly Ashton of Severn Screen. The mother-daughter duo are amongst the first full time production sustainability co-ordinators in the UK.

The bespoke training for this future-facing role reflects efforts to help change work habits in the Welsh screen sector and provide upskilling opportunities for people passionate about sustainability who are at various stages in their film and TV careers. It aligns closely with recommendations from the BFI’s Screen New Deal: Transformation Plan for Wales.

The training initiative has been made possible thanks to Ymddiried (Media Grants Cymru), who have supported trainee travel costs and accommodation. Support has also been given by production studios Great Point Seren Studios, Wolf Studios Wales, Dragon Studios and Aria Film Studios.

The cohort of six received a training bursary to attend training at studio locations across Wales, culminating in final training workshop and a celebration at Machynlleth’s Centre for Alternative Technology.

Thanks to additional funding provided by Creative Wales, the cohort are now set to embark on the next stage of their traineeship – a 10 to 15-week production placement, where the trainees will put their learning into practice and build future career connections.

Severn Screen in Wales is thought to be one of the first UK production companies to employ a full-time sustainability co-ordinator.

Severn Screen said:

“We’re thrilled to be working with Media Cymru and University of South Wales to deliver this new training programme for sustainability co-ordinators in scripted productions. With an increased focus on sustainable production across the film and TV industry, this is a great opportunity for people extend their skillset in this important and growing area.”

Nicole Wait, from North Wales, has a background in education. She took part in the training, and said:

“I wanted to shift towards actively working to alleviate the climate emergency, and to contribute to an industry that Wales holds as precious.

“Being part of this training empowers us to have a huge impact on a sector that has historically acted with little thought of our planet, yet one that includes many professionals who care deeply about the environment but don’t yet have the skills to align their work with their values.  There is already significant innovation and willing towards greening the screen; now it’s time to join together to have a ripple out effect into our communities and further afield. Our placements will enable us to build momentum in raising awareness in crew members, advocating for greener actions and financing, inciting positive change from top to bottom and from bottom to top.”

Jess Gow from Cardiff has a background in the film and TV industry. She took a career break to raise her children, and currently freelances as a production co-ordinator.

She said:

“I was attracted to the opportunity as from my experience working in Production Management I could see first-hand how easily sustainable decisions and actions can become an afterthought to the production process instead of it being championed from the onset.

“Sustainability isn't an afterthought and there is an urgent need for sustainability co-ordinators to be responsible for working with the different stakeholders across a production to lessen their environmental impact and where possible to add value back into the local economy.  We can all make a difference in our words and actions, and we need to bring awareness to that, and the consequences of our actions on set.”

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