Oscar-winning producer backs plans to boost film jobs in Berkshire

Watch: Video report by ITV News Meridian's Penny Silvester

The Oscar-winning producer of Box Office smash, The King's Speech, has been working with students at Reading University as the film industry tries to tackle a skills shortage.

Gareth Ellis-Unwin joined a workshop on the university campus as it was announced that Berkshire has been given £600,000 to get more people into the film production industry.

The money from the British Film Institute has been awarded to a Berkshire-based ‘Skills Cluster’ to make the industry more accessible.

The scheme aims to create new opportunities for new entrants to the workforce, those from underrepresented backgrounds, individuals up-skilling and over 50s jobseekers returning to work.

Film production crew at the University of Reading get their hands on a coveted Oscar Credit: ITV Meridian

Ellis-Unwin who is CEO of Bedlam Film Productions in Slough said: "The screen industries are booming in the UK, but to stay fresh and continue to thrive we must nurture new talent and open up the industry.

"As the local infrastructure such as the new studios come on stream, the “people part” is the next critical step.

"Skilled film crew are the beating heart of the screen industries, and one reason why the UK is a destination of choice for the US studios and streamers.

"We have an opportunity to compete on both a national and international level here in Berkshire.

"Living locally, I know that Berkshire is already blessed with some incredible resources as a centre for film and TV production, but we need to make best use of our most important asset – our local workforce – whoever and wherever they are."

Shinfield studio complex under construction by the M4 near Reading Credit: ITV Meridian

It comes as the Berkshire region continues to grow in significance for the film and TV production sector. Recent developments include the ongoing construction of Shinfield Studios.

On completion, this brand-new, state-of-the-art production facility is set to become the fourth largest of its kind in the UK. With part of the site already open, it has started to attract some of the world’s most famous film and TV productions.

It's part of a wider programme of investment by the British Film Institute, which will see a total of £9.6m of National Lottery funding over three years to support skills development and training across the UK.

The Berkshire cluster will be led by social enterprise Resource Productions CIC whose CEO Dominique Unsworth said: "After more than two decades organically diversifying the talent supply chain from our not-for-profit in Slough, we are really excited to bring this skills investment into Berkshire.

"It will enable us to drive forward the great work of our partners across education, training, industry and government.

"We’ve all been talking about screen sector skills gaps for so long, now we actually have some resource to enable real action!"