BBC Doctors Hosts Letherbridge First Film Festival

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Our friends at BBC Doctors are hosting Letherbridge’s Film First Festival. It will take place on Thursday 13th September, 7.30 for 8.00pm start at the George Cadbury Hall (opposite the Drama Village in Selly Oak).

They’ll be screening four films made by some of the crew that make Doctors (from Researchers to Assistant Directors). The films were mostly done on no budget in their spare time, and are original pieces written and directed by the crew. If you’re interested in attending, please RSVP to

Opportunity for Script Writers – Closing date 19th November

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Every writer wants to see their story come to life – and Enter Stage Write is offering just that chance!

Along with a £1000 prize for the overall winner, a select number of scripts will be produced and performed at the prestigious Royal Birmingham Conservatoire on December 1st. There will be a judging panel of industry pros – headlined by Head Commissioning Editor of Channel 4, Lee Mason – that work for major British broadcasting companies (such as BBC and Channel 4) who are actively looking for new scripts to produce. Plus, various other patrons of the arts from around the West Midlands will also be in attendance to see the performance of your script.

Along with that, writers have the option to opt-in or opt-out of their script being placed in the Transition Stage Company script database. This is a worldwide database accessible to a wealth of producers, giving each script the chance – regardless of how it does in the contest – to be picked up by a producer that wants to bring it to life.

To enter, create an original and brilliant 7-10 minute script (have a read through with family and friends), and submit it for just £10 here. For just £20 more, participants can have a 1-on-1 coaching session with either of the experienced and knowledgeable professionals Tim Stimpson and Anna Southgate. Of course, you will be allowed to submit an updated version on your script based on these coaching sessions.

The competition is open to British citizens and UK residents who have studied or are studying in the UK. For more details on the contest and Transition Stage Company head here or email A special Coupon Code is also available to anyone who entered the contest last year, valid for £5 off the £10 and £30 submission. The contest closes at midnight November 19th.

Enter. Stage. Write!

Peaky Blinders creator calls for ‘creative revolution’ in Birmingham

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Peaky Blinders creator and proud Brummie Steven Knight says ‘the time has come’ for a creative revolution in Birmingham – declaring ‘it’s time we let the world know we’re here, and what we’re all about’. Speaking ahead of significant prospects for the city including the construction of his own film studio, the introduction of HS2 and the Channel 4 bid, Knight envisions a new identity for Birmingham.

“It’s always been a place where people have made things,” he says, “and now they’ll be making films instead of cars.”

You can’t talk about Steven Knight without mentioning the TV phenomenon Peaky Blinders. First airing on the BBC in 2013, the Small Heath gangster drama has catapulted Birmingham into the collective consciousness and brought world recognition to the once overlooked city. The series is set in the aftermath of the First World War, when the West Midlands was still a bustling industrial hub. With imposing chimneys and furnaces as a backdrop, the noise and mist of industry permeates every scene, acting almost as a peripheral character and a constant reminder of Birmingham’s historic profile.

But with the country facing the decline of manufacturing in recent years, Knight thinks it is now time for the city to develop a new identity.

“With the change in the way the world works, the end of the manufacturing workshop of the world profile, it’s taken a while for Birmingham to find its new identity,” he says, “but right now with Brexit, and with all of those other things, Birmingham needs to stamp its mark on the culture and on the consciousness of people all over the world.”

So why hasn’t Birmingham achieved the same cultural recognition as comparable cities such as Liverpool and Manchester? Knight suggests it’s because Brummies ‘aren’t ones to get carried away and bang their own drums,’ adding that ‘it’s not a city that craves attention’.

But rather than see this as a failing, he believes that a mine of untapped creative potential exists in the region.

“It’s that this has never been a place where the culture has been exhausted. This is all fresh stuff. Creative people have always originated in this city and done their stuff in this city and changed the world. From William Shakespeare, arts and crafts, making cars – we want to tell that story, and at the same time we want to become part of that story.”

Birmingham finds itself on the cusp of an exciting period in its history. The imminent arrival of HS2 and 5G, the bid to bring Channel 4 to the region and the upcoming Commonwealth Games have created a real buzz around the city. Knight is building on this momentum by constructing a brand new film studio in the heart of Brum that he hopes will be the calling card for American filmmakers. And the award-winning director believes the introduction of HS2 will only boost trade for the creative industries in the West Midlands, slashing travel times from Heathrow for Hollywood executives.

“What I want them to understand is that they can fly in and fly out. That they are very close to London, when HS2 comes in,” he says. We want to work and function completely as a destination where people can fly in from New York, walk with a wheeled hand luggage case to the studio, make their film, and then walk back to the airport.

“We’re very connected nationally and internationally. It’s about momentum, and you get a magnetism around certain places at certain times, and it starts to attract all sorts of people.

“I’m also really hoping that Channel 4 come because their profile and Birmingham’s profile have a lot in common. It’s very young, alternative, it’s free-thinking, and Birmingham has been all of those things for the last century.”

Revealing his plans for a ‘media neighbourhood’, Knight’s vision reflects an inclusive and open culture that will harness young local talent and promote the city as a true contender on the world stage.

“There is a pool of young talent here, in the city of Birmingham, that will make film making easy,” he says, “we’re going to have film studios, television studios, post-production facilities, but also bars, restaurants, cafes, a cinema, a theatre.

“Make it a place where people want to go as a destination, as well as a place where we make great film and television.”

Highlighting the huge demand for studio space in Britain, Knight plans to create an international destination that’s purpose-built for big productions. And he pointed to some of the city’s vacant industrial plots as perfect examples of the fertile ground and building stock that is ripe for development.

“Digbeth for me, and it’s not stretching the point at all, Digbeth reminds me of Tribecca, before it became Tribecca in New York,” he says, “you know that was an industrial meat packing district, and then that stopped and the places were empty for a while, and then somebody comes along and goes ‘hang on a minute, think of what we could do with this, look at the potential, look how close it is to everything’.”

Knight’s ambitious project has political backing in spades. The West Midlands Combined Authority has recently established a new creative commission aimed at increasing the area’s profile as a ‘world class creative & cultural region’, while Mayor Andy Street is a key supporter. And he claims that this shifting political focus is just further evidence that the moment is right for ‘a real cultural explosion in Birmingham’.

“Where it was once a peripheral industry, now it’s a really important industry,” he says, “it’s one of the fastest growing industries in the country, and it’s what Britain does best. For the size of the nation, in terms of soft power, the creative arts that emanate from this country are phenomenally powerful. This is a place where creative people thrive and do great work.

“So it makes sense for people to invest in that, to make the most of what is available here with the creative industry. And I think that Birmingham should be the cradle for all of this, it should be where all of this is happening.”

The writer revealed that an announcement on his new studio is ‘imminent’, with the project expected to be underway during the next year.

With the region welcoming improved transport links, new technology, and a fresh political focus on the creative industries, Knight’s vision of Birmingham as a creative powerhouse seems like a real possibility. With the Channel 4 bid and plans for a new ‘media neighbourhood’ also in the pipeline, we could soon see a future where the creative arts are as much a hallmark of Birmingham’s identity as it’s industrialist past.



Punch Records supports emerging BME filmmakers from the West Midlands

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Six emerging BME filmmakers from the West Midlands have been given the opportunity to fulfil their potential as part of a six-month artist development programme called BACK IN.

The dynamic programme, powered by innovative creative agency Punch and curated by talented director and entrepreneur Daniel Alexander enables participants to attend bootcamps and masterclasses, develop industry knowledge, professional connections, be mentored and concludes with the creation of a short film on a small budget.

“Participants were selected through their showreel quality, their references and their dedication and determination to succeed. They have already had a robust level of local success and we can see that they have the potential to replicate that nationally and beyond,” says Daniel Alexander.

The programme ran for the first time successfully last year and the 2017 cohort of the BACK IN film programme, will be hosting a panel discussion around diversity in the UK film market, and showcasing their work in the EVERYMAN cinema, inside the Mailbox on September 26 as part of BBC Digital Cities – a week-long series of events for the creative industries in Birmingham starting on Monday 24 September 2018. There will be a full schedule stripped across the week, offering insights and free digital skills training.

Punch Records owner Ammo Talwar MBE says: “Punches role in BACK IN is to support the next wave of young black filmmakers in getting better connected. It’s about new networks and partnerships.”

Programmes like this are important because the industry workforce does not reflect the diversity of the UK. Black, Asian and Minority ethnic backgrounds representation in the industry has declined across production, distribution and exhibition in recent years. In production, 59% of UK films do not feature a single black actor in a named character role and films that feature a black actor tend to revolve around stereotypical topics.

Local filmmaker and BACK IN participant Michael Ellis says: “The current state of diversity in the industry does seem to be improving but we still have a long way to go. There is still an ethnic imbalance and also gender imbalance in terms of representation. Certain communities are still underrepresented. It’s important for different voices to be heard and for us to be telling our own stories because that makes what we see in TV and in film more authentic and truthful.”

For more info visit

Comedy Exec Gives Master Class

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In this workshop, Saurabh Kakkar, experienced TV comedy producer with a host of successful programmes to his name, shares some of his best hints, tips and strategies for creating, developing, selling and producing narrative comedy, and making it fit for broadcast in today’s multi-platform climate.

Starting out as a producer of live comedy tours, Saurabh went on to become Executive Producer at Big Talk, responsible for shows such as the BAFTA-nominated Timewasters and the forthcoming BBC2 show Defending The Guilty. Prior to that he was Head of Development and an Exec producer at BBC Comedy Productions, responsible for shows such as Professor Branestawm (adapted by Charlie Higson, starring Harry Hill), The Life of Rock with Brian Pern (starring Simon Day and Paul Whitehouse) and Puppy Love (by Jo Scanlan and Vicki Pepperdine).

Before that Saurabh spent 13 years at ITV Studios as a drama producer and exec then Creative Director of Comedy, responsible for shows such as White Van Man for BBC3 (remade as Family Tools for ABC in the US), FM for ITV2 (starring Chris O’Dowd) and Dirk Gently for BBC4 (Starring Stephen Mangan and Darren Boyd) and The Fattest Man in Britain and Security Men for ITV1 (both by Caroline Aherne and Jeff Pope).

This workshop takes place in the Heritage Learning Suite, Library of Birmingham, September 22, 11:00 – 15:00 BST.

There will be an informal networking opportunity at the end of the workshop, where some light refreshments will be served. You must be aged 18 years or older to attend this workshop.

Tickets available here:

For more information, contact


BBC Scriptwriting 101 In Birmingham

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Ever wondered how to get noticed by the BBC? How to send your script and what happens when you do? How do they assess your work? What grabs them and what puts them off? If you’re after some tips, this is a session not to miss.

BBC Writersroom is providing an industry-focused workshop at Curzon Building, Birmingham City University on Saturday 22 September, 14:30 – 18:30 BST.

BBC Writersroom is a cross-genre department for scripted content, who work with Drama, Comedy, CBBC, CBeebies, Radio, Online – and others. They work with and develop new and experienced writers and are always on the lookout for fresh, new, talented writers with an original voice and great stories to tell. Workshop leader Usman Mullan is Assistant Producer for BBC Writersroom North, and will provide you with some invaluable tips and answer any burning questions you may have about scriptwriting.

Usman works at BBC Writersroom as an Assistant Producer based in MediaCity, Salford. Usman looks after northern comedy and drama writer’s development across TV, Radio and Digital platforms, producing schemes opportunities and events for writers and working with partners across Drama, Comedy, CBBC, CBeebies, Radio, Online and others, on new and ongoing projects. Usman also produces writer training programmes including Northern Voices, a writer development group to introduce theatre writers to writing for broadcast. He also works across online production and social media and has produced a series of short drama/comedy films for BBC Radio 1Xtra, Asian Network and BBC Music’s social media

There will be an informal networking opportunity at the end of the workshop, where some light refreshments will be served. You must be aged 18 years or older to attend this workshop.

Tickets available here:

For more information, contact

Birmingham Post Makes A Case for Channel 4 HQ In Birmingham

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The Birmingham Post has upped its bid for Channel 4 to relocate to the city from London.

In a special 24-page supplement, the Post highlights the reasons why the broadcaster should consider the city above all others for its new base as it prepares to move out of London.

It is also in the running with five other cities to welcome one of two new “creative hubs”, the locations of which should be announced this autumn.

The supplement brings together some of the key figures living and working in Birmingham to shout about everything that is happening here, from major new property developments to culture and city living.

A delegation from Channel 4 is due to visit Birmingham in the coming weeks when it will meet with the mayor and other civic and business leaders, giving the city another chance to outline the case for the station to base its new HQ here.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said: “We are at a critical stage in the campaign to bring Channel 4’s new HQ to Birmingham and we’re at the point where the issues like sites and attracting staff to our region are becoming key.

“The Birmingham Post has done a fantastic job of showcasing what makes Birmingham a fantastic place to live and work and given really valuable backing to the bid at a really important time.

“With the Commonwealth Games, City of Culture, a further £1 billion of government investment in homes, transport, skills and supporting businesses over the last 12 months, this is a region going places – it would make perfect sense for Channel 4 to join us.

“A huge amount of work is going on behind the scenes, working with Channel 4’s top people and the timetable they have set out, and kept to so far, suggests we should hear a final decision at the end of September or start of October.”

The supplement can also be read online here.

Kids and Familes Wanted for ITV Series

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The team behind the prime time ITV series ‘How to Spend it Well at Christmas with Phillip Schofield’ is on the hunt for new faces for this year’s series! The show, which had an average audience of 3.5 million, has been recommissioned for a second series and the following invitation has been extended to the public:

The programme is a seasonal consumer show, in which Phillip Schofield invites celebrity guests, experts, and members of the public to help him conduct a series of inventive tests and experiments using a selection of presents and products available for Christmas 2018.

We are in the early stages of production, and are currently looking for some fun kids and families to take part in the series! If you are interested in taking part in some of the trials all we would need is a quick video of which we can show to our producers.

The video should include the following:
*             Introduction – Name, age & where you’re from (town)
*             Toy or Gadget Review –  Why is it their favourite toy/Gadget? Maybe a little demo (if applicable)?
*             Christmas 2018 – What new toys they are excited about / their dream toy? Why they are excited about it?

If you are a family applying please film the following:
*             A short introduction of the family members – Names, ages & where you’re from (town)
*             Each person tell us what you would like for Christmas.

Please don’t worry about the quality of the video, it can just be recorded on your phone and emailed across to myself. It also doesn’t need to be long, roughly 1 minute. If you have any issues with the file size you can use a free service called WeTransfer (

Please email your video to

We look forward to hearing from you!

The Spend it Well Team