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Big-hitting movie producers believe Islington film school will ‘reflect diversity of London’

PUBLISHED: 10:13 07 November 2018 | UPDATED: 16:36 07 November 2018

A digital impression of the London Screen Academy, an Islington film school due to open in 2019. Photo by London Screen Academy

A digital impression of the London Screen Academy, an Islington film school due to open in 2019. Photo by London Screen Academy

Archant

An incoming Islington film school will “reflect the diversity and cultural richness of London”, according to the illustrious names in the movie industry backing the project.

A digital impression of the London Screen Academy, an Islington film school due to open in 2019. Photo by London Screen AcademyA digital impression of the London Screen Academy, an Islington film school due to open in 2019. Photo by London Screen Academy

The stage is set for the London Screen Academy (LSA) to open in September 2019, with 300 budding film-makers to be welcomed through the doors of the transformed Ladbroke House building in Highbury.

Just down the road from the City of London Academy, Highbury Grove, the school – based on Pinewood Studios – will give students aged between 16 and 19 a hands-on approach to the film and television industries.

Nick Watkiss, who has been appointed headteacher, told the Gazette: “LSA will provide an incredible opportunity for London’s young people to join the screen industries. Thousands of jobs will be created in this sector over the coming years and we will ensure our students are ready for them.

“I have been speaking to headteachers in Islington and the reaction has been positive. We want to get cater for students from all backgrounds in London.”

LSA comes with considerable heft behind it from the film industry, with founders including award-winning producers from Working Title Films’ Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner (Darkest Hour), Heyday Films’ David Heyman (The Harry Potter franchise), EON Productions’ Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson (James Bond franchise) and Lisa Bryer (The Last King of Scotland).

“There is a dearth of young people coming into creative industries, especially in film and television,” Mr Fellner told the Gazette. “There is a real shortage of young people with the requisite skill sets to make it in the industry.”

Mr Fellner also said that the school would certainly be open to the idea of nearby schools Highbury Fields and Highbury Grove taking advantage of the facilities on offer should an opportunity of a partnership arise.

Plans had been met by scorn by several community groups back in 2016

A digital impression of the London Screen Academy, an Islington film school due to open in 2019. Photo by London Screen Academy A digital impression of the London Screen Academy, an Islington film school due to open in 2019. Photo by London Screen Academy

Cllr Joe Caluori, Islington Council’s education chief, had chaired a heated meeting back in 2016 during the planning application process, in which the proposal was met with scorn by several community groups, including members of Highbury Fields school and the Highbury Community Association.

Concerns were raised about whether a film school was needed in a congested area of Islington.

He said: “Islington has a proud history of producing young people who have gone on to prominent roles in film and television.

“With the UK becoming an international hub for television and film production we want to make sure that our young people are able to get a competitive edge and become the next generation of creative and technical experts in the industry.

“We look forward to working with LSA to make sure that local young people are able to benefit fully from having this resource on their doorstep, getting the skills and qualifications they need to get a foothold in the industry.”

All students will complete a full-time programme over two years which combines academic study and practical training. Students will graduate with a UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma (the equivalent of three A-levels) in creative media production and technology. All students will also study English and maths. Training in games and virtual reality will be part of a future offering.

LSA will form part of the Day One Trust. Day One Trust’s other academy is ELAM (East London Arts and Music) a full-time music industry academy for 16-19 years olds.

In its first year LSA will open with 300 students and it will continue to grow to a maximum capacity of 1,000 students. Applications close on Jaunary 31, 2019. For more information visit LSA.org.uk.

A digital impression of the London Screen Academy, an Islington film school due to open in 2019. Photo by Architecture InitiativeA digital impression of the London Screen Academy, an Islington film school due to open in 2019. Photo by Architecture Initiative

“As founders we believe that everyone who has a passion for film-making should have the opportunity for a career behind the camera in one of the many jobs in the screen industries. We want to make the seemingly inaccessible film and television worlds accessible. We believe that our workforce should better reflect the diversity and cultural richness of the city in which we live,” said Tim Bevan, co-founder and co-chairman of Working Title Films.

What do you think about the new film school? E-mail james.scott@archant.co.uk with your thoughts.

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