In Conversation with Lord Puttnam

University of Sunderland and Northern Film + Media present a series of seminars “In Conversation with Lord Puttnam” supported by Pinewood Group.

From March to May 2021, Lord Puttnam will lead six seminars on all aspects of the screen industries, with a variety of guests, each of whom has forged a successful career in the film industry.

Delivered over Cisco’s WebEx system, the ninety-minute seminars will follow an ‘in conversation’ format and will be fully interactive, using film clips, archival footage and images to illustrate the exchange. Questions will be taken from the audience throughout.

“At a time of extraordinary challenge and uncertainty, the creative industries – including film and television – represent a unique and growing opportunity for satisfying and well-paid employment.

Filmmakers can also change the way we see the world; which makes it difficult to imagine a more worthwhile career.

The purpose of these seminars is to open a window to this career, and all of its possibilities.”

Seminar Series

Producing Content in an Era of Fake News – The growing importance of factual and documentary makers with John Battsek – Friday 30th April, 10am – 12noon

Socially sharable and broadcast video journalism and documentary are key areas for development with NFM. The aim is to commission young and diverse stories from content makers in the North East – the sort of content not normally developed by the more established producers. The schemes recognise the importance of factual documentary makers producing content for social media channels. It’s a way in which new voices – younger, northern, working class, more diverse – can be heard online. It underlines Lord Puttnam’s work in holding platform operators to account for the development of a pandemic of misinformation through unregulated influencers spinning fantasy in place of facts. The popularity and scale of documentaries now being commissioned by streaming services such as Amazon and Netflix enables a whole new world of opportunity to address injustices and misleading conspiracy theories. This session will attempt to underline the fact that news, factual, current affairs, documentaries and factual entertainment now offer more entry level opportunities than drama.

For more information on our current and future schemes, check out our website.

The Films of Ridley Scott with Ridley Scott – Tuesday 11th May, 2pm

It’s impossible to overstate the iconic stature of Ridley Scott in his native North East. His global success is an inspiration to anyone from the region with an aspiration to make and become successful in the world of creative content production. What lessons can we learn from the way in which he overcame barriers in his early career? How does he spot (and rate) new talent? A growing number of talented creatives from the North East have followed Ridley in leaving the areas to pursue careers in London and LA. How can we build on that to create sufficient of a critical mass in the North East to enable more productions to be made here? Can Ridley’s experience help make it easier for the region to develop work experience, work placements, mentoring within established companies?

Past Events

Golden rules – the things I wish I’d known when I was 30! with Lee Hall, Friday 12th March

In the first of the six-part series Lord Puttnam and Lee Hall (Billy Elliot, Rocket Man) will consider the A-Z of what to do, and what not to do! What are the different roles that are needed to bring a film or programme to the screen? How can people make themselves more useful/employable at entry level by learning to drive, taking health and safety training (especially in an era of Covid)?

As Hall and Puttnam will discuss, entry level jobs don’t necessarily determine the areas where filmmakers eventually find themselves. This seminar is an essential guide for anyone working, or seeking to work in the creative content sector.

How to finance and produce successful content with David Parfitt, Monday 15th March

Show me the money! Using experience from their own careers, Lord Puttnam and David Parfitt will consider how best to get projects off the ground through co-productions, production funds, investors, loans etc. They will also look at the importance of resilience and bouncing back from rejection. For instance, while you are waiting to make your dream project, you may need to juggle other, less ambitious projects to pay the rent and keep yourself engaged with the marketplace.

How Technology has Changed Storytelling with Sarah Gavron, Monday 12th April

In an era in which it’s become easier than ever to get your content online, how do you ensure you stand out from the crowd? How important are technical standards when you can shoot content on your i-phone? Special effects and animation are increasingly being used in mainstream content – what’s the best forum for finding people with different skills with whom to collaborate? What’s the future for content makers as we try to second guess the rapidly evolving world of distribution channels and formats? Technology is also driving consumer habits. For example, binge watching box sets online, rather than waiting for scheduled weekly instalments on broadcast channels. What’s the next consumer step-change?

The Great British Skills Shortage – Where the jobs are with Iain Smith Friday 23rd April

Creatives often have their own ideas on how to get started, but this session will be of particular interest to those interested in working behind the scenes – reinforcing the opportunities for production co-ordinators, production finance managers, designers, special effects etc. The current reality is that most work is based in and around London, but that’s beginning to change, and new studio production hubs are being developed in places like Reading, Liverpool and Leeds. So why not the North East? One of the biggest hurdles is a lack of confidence in would-be creatives. The difficulty yet the importance of building contacts and networks. And how do we prepare this generation for the jobs that in some cases have yet to be invented? What are the skills and practises being learned right now that will equip individuals for satisfying future careers in content creation?

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