Back in February, we launched the pilot round of REACH Film & TV Development Grant Awards. Supported by the European Regional Development Fund, REACH is designed to fund the development phase of exceptional film and television projects and support the growth of creative businesses in the Tees Valley. The scheme is unique to the region.
To be eligible for the fund, we asked that projects were high-quality, viable, and would really elevate the SME’s work to the next level. Successful projects needed to support the creative and professional development of writers, directors, producers, craft and technical talent based in the Tees Valley.
We’re thrilled to report that four Tees Valley projects were awarded funding across children’s animation, contemporary dystopian horror, and scripted series drama. Two jobs have been directly created in the sector through the awards, with additional proof-of-concept filming and animation production coming to the region in the new year.
Our Tees Valley Screen Project Manager Jen Corcoran said, ‘Early stage development funding is some of the hardest to find and yet crucial to ensuring film & television projects are market-ready and can unlock further opportunities and investment. I am therefore thrilled to support these mature and ambitious projects through Tees Valley Screen’s REACH programme and boost the growth of our screen sector. I am so proud of the exciting talent we have within the Tees Valley and can’t wait to see what their development brings.’
Award #1: Sea & Sky Pictures
Sea & Sky Pictures were awarded funds towards the development of the company’s scripted television slate, including ‘The Fabulous Life of Tiana Leigh’ by Middlesbrough-based writer and performer Lucia Rovardi Tomlinson and horror anthology ‘Lore’. Company director and executive producer at Sea & Sky Pictures, Adam Bouabda, is chuffed about their REACH award, as ‘Sea & Sky Pictures are bringing a huge amount of television, film and online production to the area’.
Sea & Sky are currently recruiting for a part-time Development Coordinator based at the company’s office in Hartlepool. Adam adds that ‘you could be part of a growing team that aims to be the number one, go-to indie production company in the North East of England within the next five years’.
Award #2: ‘The Lost Ones’, Autokino
‘The Lost Ones’ is a short form elevated genre film from Saltburn’s Autokino (Blood Cells, Tony Fraginals) in collaboration with Shudder Films (God’s Own Country), intended as a proof of concept for a feature film in development with BFI Network through Film Hub North. A disorienting, nerve-jangling encounter set in the twilight margins of broken Britain, the film will shoot in Teesside in early 2021.
Ben Young from Autokino says ‘Financing proof-of-concept pieces for longer form work can sometimes prove challenging, especially when you want that short film to additionally thrive as a compelling, audience-facing work in its own right. In our case, REACH has made it possible: a short that can do multiple jobs at once, functioning as a launchpad for the project, the director, and the companies involved’.
Award #3: Deivos Films
Darlington-based Deivos Films have been awarded development funds in support of their scripted television slate and have invested their award in the creation of a new Development Coordinator post within the company.
Company Director of Deivos, Alex Polunin, added: ‘At Deivos, we are committed to building a genuinely sustainable film & high-end television drama business here in the North East which is capable of competing on the international stage and providing a home outside of London for the very best talent to be able to truly fulfil their potential. Historically there have been very few substantial employment opportunities in the film & television industry here and this is something we are determined to change. We are grateful for the support we have received from NFM as we make promising steps towards eventually realising this long-term vision’.
Award #4: ‘Shark in the Park’, Arcus Animation Studios
Arcus Animation Studios have been awarded a grant for the development of ‘Shark in the Park’, a children’s TV animation series based on the bestselling books by Nick Sharratt. The grant will kickstart the first phase of development on the project from the company’s Hartlepool base.
Executive Producer at Arcus Animation Studios, Marc de Launay, says ‘It’s essential, especially now, that the creative industries within the Tees Valley and the North East are intelligently supported and directly funded, in order to develop long term value and employment within the region. Such targeted and validated investment should then act as an impetus to nurture and retain the tremendous talent we have here!’.
What’s next for REACH?
The pilot scheme of REACH has been very successful and our acting Managing Director of Northern Film + Media, Alison Gwynn, is hopeful for the future of the fund.
Alison adds: ‘We are really pleased with how the first iteration of the REACH scheme has shaped up, and so we plan to release a second round of funding in early 2021. As an organisation we have lots planned for 2021, including new schemes and project development events, so keep an eye on our website and social media channels, and join our mailing list to find out the latest’.
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