Advanced Television

WBD Access brings back industry programmes for 2024

February 15, 2024

Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) Access, the talent development division for under-represented creatives, will launch new series of Black Britain Unspoken and the WBD Access Northern Writers’ Programme in 2024, following their previous success and impact.

The programmes sit alongside WBD Access’s industry partnerships and collaborations, working to breakdown systemic barriers and diversify the creative industry’s talent pool.

Black Britain Unspoken

Black Britain Unspoken aims to give opportunity and voice to Black British filmmakers who are breaking into the industry, as data shows Black people continue to be underrepresented across director, writer and producer roles in the UK.

Launched in 2022, Black Britain Unspoken gives filmmakers a pitch-to-production experience, and an opportunity to bring their creative vision to life. Delivered in collaboration with Media Trust, three aspiring filmmakers will also be offered professional development and tailored workshops focused on media training and career progression. This year, the award-winning UK production company Wall to Wall, part of Warner Bros. International Television Production, is joining the programme as production partner alongside Bounce Cinema, who partnered with Black Britain Unspoken in 2023, will continue its support through the judging stages, training, and as premiere event partner.

To date, Black Britain Unspoken has identified and supported six incredible filmmakers. The 2023 cohort included Alterior by Terrie Aghaizu, Beats From Heaven by Eden Igwe and Food, Music & Vibes by Monique Needham, each providing authentic, original perspectives of what it means to be Black and British. Since taking part in Black Britain Unspoken, Eden has been awarded an Honourable Mention for her film at the UK Seasonal Short Film Festival, whilst 2022 filmmakers have had their films recognised at industry leading festivals such as Unscripted at the Edinburgh TV Festival and the International Shorts Film Festival.

As well as providing a platform for Black British creatives, Black Britain Unspoken works to diversify storytelling and promote unique content across WBD’s streaming service. The 2024 selected films will launch on discovery+ in October as part of WBD’s Black History Month celebrations in the UK. Applications open on Tuesday 12 March and close Monday 8 April.

Following the success of series 1 and 2, Black Brazil Unspoken was launched in November 2023, the first international iteration of the programme with an ambition for more WBD Access programmes to follow.

WBD Access Northern Writers’ Programme

WBD Access Northern Writers’ Programme, in partnership with Wall to Wall North and the Royal Exchange Theatre, returns this year and builds on the success of the newly designed 2023 programme, developed to create unique opportunities for talented writers from under-represented backgrounds from the North of England. The programme is specifically tailored to writers who are new to television drama but already writing for theatre, empowering them to carve out successful careers across both stage and screen.

2023’s cohort of talented writers are Amy Lever, Cai Odu, Jasmin Mandi-Ghomi, Matt Gurr and Olivia Hannah who have just completed the programme. Spanning six months, the writers were given a rare insight into how both industries work through a series of sessions, including a mock writers room, masterclasses with A-List writers and industry executives, learning how commissioning works from the inside, how to find an agent, and how to sustain a multidiscipline career. Inspirational speakers in 2023 included Russell T Davies (Doctor Who, It’s A Sin), Anna Jordan (Succession, YEN winner of the 2013 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting), Nora Skinner (HBO SVP, Drama Programming), Vinay Patel (One Day, Murdered By My Father, An Adventure) and Alice Ramsey (BBC), among others. The writers were also given support from Suzanne Bell, award-winning Dramaturg from the Royal Exchange, to discuss their stage work and receive expert advice.

The writers were supported to write their own original one-hour TV pilot. Each working one-on-one with a Script Editor and Executive Producer Sian Palfrey, Wall to Wall North, who provided them with editorial support to take their idea from pitch, to outline, and through two drafts of a script.

Applications for 2024 open on Thursday 29 February and close Thursday 28 March.

Asif Sadiq MBE, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer WBD, said: “We’re delighted to launch two further series of Black Britain Unspoken and WBD Access Northern Writers’ Programme in 2024. Now headed into their third series, we are so proud of these programmes and the fantastic talent we have been able to identify and support. Working with industry leading partners like Media Trust, Royal Exchange Theatre, Bounce Cinema and now Wall to Wall across two programmes – we’re able to not only improve access and opportunity but deliver best-in-class training, mentoring and experiences. It is only through targeted, dedicated programmes and ongoing industry collaboration that we can support emerging and underrepresented talent break into the industry. I am incredibly proud of the impact WBD Access programmes are making, along with our commitment and investment in supporting those already working in our industry through initiatives like CrewHQ.”

WBD Access has also delivered programmes in the UK including House of the Dragon: Directors Shadowing Programme, which offered two emerging Directors an 11 month paid production placement on HBO’s House of the Dragon Series 2 set, and WBD Access x Rocksteady Studios Games Academy, a hybrid 12 week development programme delivered in collaboration with Rocksteady Studios, the makers of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, and Next Gen Skills Academy, designed to provide those from underrepresented backgrounds with new routes into the gaming industry.

In addition to the commitment to increase access to the industry for under-represented creatives, WBD has also broadened its skills offering with the launch of CrewHQ in November 2023. The new on-site training centre based at Warner Bros Studios Leavesden is designed to support existing crew, create career routes for people of all backgrounds and foster the next generation of Film and TV production talent.

Alongside the launch of these programmes, WBD is supporting several industry events and educational programmes in the UK and across Europe, dedicated to diversifying talent in creative industries and championing underrepresented communities, including BFI’s Future Film Festival, Berlinale Talents, Oska Bright Film Festival as well as supporting the National Film and Television School.

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