Working Title, Harry Potter producer David Heyman, Bond producers EON and The Last King of Scotland producer Lisa Bryer officially launched the London Screen Academy, their government-backed film and TV-oriented free school for 16-19 year-olds, at an event in North London this morning.
The Islington-based school, which is due to open in autumn 2019, is being set up in a bid to improve skills and diversity within the UK film and TV arenas. It will offer a vocational curriculum including behind the camera skills and teaching from industry professionals, many of whom have worked with the founders.
Classes will range from writing to production design, hair and makeup to VFX. Training in games and VR/AR will be part of a future offering, the founders have said. The school is expected to include a film production studio, workshops, a film theater and a rooftop courtyard with views over London.
In its first year LSA is due to open with 300 students and could grow to a maximum of 1000. All students will enroll for a full-time program over two years which combines academic study and practical training. Students will graduate with a UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma (the equivalent of three A-levels) in Creative Media Production and Technology. All students will also study English and Maths. It will be open to students from across London.
Nick Watkiss, an experienced headteacher, has been appointed Principal Designate. Watkiss developed LSA’s curriculum in consultation with the school’s founders and he is currently recruiting staff and teachers. He is working closely on the school’s development with the Department for Education, which is funding the school, and with creative educational adviser Nick Williams, who was Principal of the BRIT school.
Founders are Working Title Films’ Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, Heyday Films’ David Heyman, EON Productions’ Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson and The Last King Of Scotland producer Lisa Bryer. They are working closely on the project with BFI, BAFTA, the UK Screen Alliance, Film London, ScreenSkills and the National Film and Television.
The school will be located in Ladbroke House, the site of the former Metropolitan University building in Highbury Grove, which has been empty since 2015. The site was bought by the UK Government for £33m. The project was initially conceived as a secondary school and college for 11-19 year-olds but that idea was shelved following complaints from local residents about the impact on two neighbouring schools.
Construction is under way at the site after the founders received local planning permission at the end of last year. Students won’t be able to access the school until summer of next year but the founders will host student open days. David Meller’s Meller Educational Trust is no longer associated with the project.
The Academy will form part of the Day One Trust, whose other academy is ELAM (East London Arts and Music), a full-time music industry operation for 16-19 years olds, which is now in its fifth year.
“As founders we believe that everyone who has a passion for film-making should have the opportunity for a career behind the camera in one of the many jobs in the screen industries. We want to make the seemingly inaccessible film and television worlds accessible. We believe that our workforce should better reflect the diversity and cultural richness of the city in which we live,” said Four Weddings And A Funeral and Love Actually producer Tim Bevan, Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of Working Title Films.
Added Principal Nick Watkiss, “LSA will provide an incredible opportunity for London’s young people to join the screen industries. Thousands of jobs will be created in this sector over the coming years and we will ensure our students are ready for them.”
Student applications are now open and will close on January 31, 2019, for the 2019 school year.