The Production Guild of Great Britain (PGGB), in partnership with the British Film Commission, has announced the participants for its inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Mentor Scheme which has matched 15 talented mentees with experienced industry mentors working in UK film and High-End TV production.
Aimed at individuals working in all grades and departments represented by PGGB’S membership (including production, accounts, ADs, locations, post-production and VFX supervisors and co-ordinators), PGGB’s Diversity and Inclusion Mentor Scheme is designed to help underrepresented talent at entry, early and experienced levels to reach the next level of their career in their chosen field. Mentors have been selected from PGGB’s membership talent and business partners and have all worked in film and High-End TV production at a senior level.
Professor Lyndsay Duthie, PGGB CEO, says: “Following an exceptionally strong response to our call for mentee and mentor applicants earlier this year, I’m so pleased to see our Mentor Scheme move out of the starting blocks with 15 talented individuals matched to some of the most experienced senior production professionals working in the UK today. This first cohort spans talent of differing ages at various points in their careers, all looking to progress to the next level. For the next six months they will receive dedicated regular contact time with their mentors, who will help them hone their goals, overcome challenges and implement effective steps to help them progress along their chosen path.”
Samantha Perahia, Head of Production UK, British Film Commission says: “We’re delighted to partner with PGGB to help improve diversity and inclusion behind the camera. Access to experienced crew is a vital component of any successful stage space development. This kind of initiative, which focuses on diversity and inclusion both at new entrant level and through Continuing Professional Development, is essential in ensuring that our world-class crew base continues to develop and grow. I can’t wait to see what the talented individuals chosen for this scheme do next.”
The 15 mentees and their mentors are:
Jivan Mann, PGGB’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Group Producer says: “This is a fantastic opportunity for both mentors and mentees to really help the future leaders of today change the landscape of production for tomorrow. We kicked off at the end of July with a sound discussion around the benefits of mentoring, experiences of privilege and career progression, followed by training on how to get the best out of mentoring in conjunction with ScreenSkills. We can’t wait to check in with our mentees soon to see how they are developing as the scheme progresses.”
Mentor Bianca Gavin is Head of Production (Scripted Division) at Pulse Films and was previously Senior Production Executive for EU scripted originals at Amazon Studios and Production Manager for Sky Originals, where she set up the Sky Breakthrough work placement initiative for disabled new talent. She says: “I believe passionately our industry needs real action. Personally, I know that without very particular life circumstances I would not have found my way into this industry – we are missing out on talent that is crucial to our growth. My aim is to help to open the door widely, provide methods of reform to our hiring practices, expand networks, generate pathways for talent to progress and build partnerships with the many brilliant organisations and networks working in this area in the UK.”
Mentee Paul Reilly says: “I have experience at Production Assistant level and am hoping to become a successful Production Coordinator and then Manager, in the future. I have high-functioning Asperger’s Syndrome which has some useful qualities for production, from my outstanding attention to detail to high determination. Despite this I’ve found getting work to progress my career difficult. I managed to get a two-week freelance job as a Production Assistant in February 2020 but when the pandemic hit, the job market became harder to break into, so I felt I was back to square one. I am determined to succeed in a job that I love and help produce high-quality content.”
Mentee Jay Ruthnam says: “My mixed heritage has been a source of inspiration and courage to reach out to as many people as I can, to learn from unique voices and engage in stories across cultures and forms. I’ve built my career in the industry as a lawyer and have found my passion in sharing stories through film and television. I look forward to this mentorship enhancing my abilities and building new production opportunities.”
#MI21 also includes a schedule of masterclasses with leading diverse talent and campaigners to widen awareness of how to embed diversity and inclusion principles in production teams. 2021 events to date have included: a masterclasses with Marcus Ryder MBE featuring contribution from Sir Lenny Henry CBE; a masterclass with Miranda Wayland, Head of Creative Diversity at the BBC; ‘Retaining Industry Talent – Supporting Childcare’ event featuring Charlotte Riley, actor and founder of The Wonderworks and Emily Stillman, SVP Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden; and the ‘Disability Allyship in the Film and TV Industry’ event sponsored by Amazon Prime Video, featuring Tommy Jessop (Line of Duty), the first actor with Downs Syndrome to start in a prime-time BBC drama, ITV Creative Diversity Partner Samantha Tatlow and actor, presenter and disability campaigner Samantha Renke. The next event titled ‘Hiring Practices – Expanding Networks’ will take place on 2 September.
PGGB’s Diversity and Inclusion Mentor Scheme is supported by the ScreenSkills Mentoring Network which is supported by the BFI, awarding National Lottery funds as part of its Future Film Skills strategy. It is part of PGGB’s Mission Inclusion programme (#MI21) delivered in partnership with the British Film Commission, designed by PGGB’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Group to empower production personnel to expand their networks and ensure they are hiring diverse production teams.