The importance of nurturing the region’s exceptional creative talent, alongside innovation, diversity, and sustainability were highlighted as priorities by industry experts and the audience on the first day of the inaugural Bristol and Bath Screen Summit last week.

Hosted by broadcaster Carol Vorderman and The Outlaws’ Gamba Cole, the summit attracted over 100 people to the event at Arnolfini.

Showcasing the city region as a leading global production community, the Summit was opened by the Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees. Guests heard from some of the world’s biggest media brands, including Bristol’s Grant Mansfield, founder and CEO at Plimsoll Productions, and Julian Bellamy, Managing Director at ITV Studios.

Growing screen talent in Bristol and Bath

Production is a growing sector in the South West, with organisations moving away from a London-centric approach to media, Bristol and Bath are becoming key players in the industry. Lynn Barlow, Assistance Vice-Chancellor Creative and Cultural Industries Engagement, tells us, “A clear message from the first day of the event is that people are key to the industry’s success, and the incredible talent base and amazing track record of TV and film in this area is continuing to drive growth.

“We should celebrate what we have already achieved, but there is still much to do, particularly pushing innovation through creativity and technology, but also ensuring the industry is representative of all audiences by creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Thank you to the panellists who kindly gave their time to speak at the Summit – their insight really demonstrates how much the region has to offer as we look to the future.”

A bald mixed race middle aged man is stood on the stage wearing a suit. Behind him a large screen that says

The Screen Summit was born out of a key recommendation from research conducted by UWE Bristol’s Digital Cultures Research Centre (DCRC); it found that while the screen industry in the city and region is booming, more could be done to overcome the political and economic challenges it’s facing.

As day two of the Summit got underway on Thursday 3 November, academics from UWE Bristol’s Digital Cultures Research Centre and the University of Bristol joined regional and national policy makers and industry leaders to explore potential interventions needed to sustain clean inclusive growth in the region’s production community.

In particular, they discussed ways of supporting and extending the emerging indigenous film and television drama in the area, considering the benefits of creating a ‘regional production fund’ and access to investment packages, either to companies already based here or to those looking to bring productions to the area.

Speakers from other regional screen agencies, including Liverpool City Regional Production Fund, shared best practices and provided insights into its key learnings and successes.

With attendees including representatives from the West of England Combined Authority, Bristol City Council, the BFI, and Screen Skills, the aim was for a working party to oversee both how funding might be leveraged and how it could be used most beneficially once the resources were in place.