Screen industry convention celebrating Black talent will address the “opportunity gap”

Press Release: January 30, 2024

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Screen industry convention celebrating Black talent will address the “opportunity gap”
LONDON, UK, 30 January 2024 – UK-based film network The New Black Film Collective brings back TNB XPO for the third year this March, with a focus on addressing the “opportunity gap” for Black creative talent in film, TV and other screen industries such as gaming.

With speakers from Film London, the British Film Institute (BFI) and Warner Bros. Discovery confirmed, TNB XPO will bring together experts, professionals and crucially, decision-makers to advise, mentor and signpost opportunities for Black talent, in front of the camera and in behind-the-scenes roles.

Organisers say Black talent face an uphill battle, with Black actors in general receiving fewer chances in their early careers compared with white actors, and having a much lower margin for error. Priscilla Igwe, Founder and CEO of The New Black Film Collective explained: “Black practitioners are not just shut out from opportunities, but they’re also held to an unrealistic standard of excellence to prove themselves. We want the screen industries in the UK to not just look at the accessibility of their opportunities, but also to adopt a strategy focussed on nurturing and cultivating Black talent. 

“So, on top of opportunities for work, we’re talking about a ‘whole career approach’, for people in front of the camera or in behind-the-scenes roles. Skills development, mentoring, confidence building, fair pay are essential, that’s why we’re thrilled to welcome the likes of Warner Bros. Discovery, Film London and the BFI; all of these organisations have active programmes in place to enable the success of Black people in the UK film, TV and games industries.

“The creative sector is already the engine of the UK economy, contributing £109 billion in 2021. Just imagine what we could achieve with more talent, new skills, different experiences, new perspectives!”

TNB XPO starts with an evening reception event on Monday 25 March, and then kicks off in earnest on Tuesday 26 March at Rich Mix in the East End of London with three full days of talks, interactive sessions, pitching and networking. 

An online programme is available on Thursday 28 March bringing together international audiences and industry experts across continents from the African Diaspora. 

Rico Johnson-Sinclair, Skills and Training Director at Warner Bros. Discovery’s CrewHQ will present a keynote speech that gets right to the heart of the issue, having spent much of his career working to embed inclusion in the sector. He commented: “There is so much potential in our industry and historically fewer opportunities for Black and Global Majority people above and below-the-line. 

“Positive cultures are important to break down barriers of entry and progression within our industry as well as strong and sustained interventions to level the playing field.  

“That is why events such as this are so important. Changes in our industry’s structures and systems are overdue and that starts by celebrating Black and Global Majority talent.”

Attendees will have a chance to hear from Black creatives, animators and filmmakers currently forging a career path as Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network (FLAMIN) return with their latest cohort of Black-identifying animators. Plus, short films submitted beforehand will allow producers of all genres to pitch ideas to industry professionals, commissioners, broadcasters, streamers and investors to bring their work to life. 

Keynote speakers also include newly appointed Babak Jani, Head of Skills at Film London. Having spent some 18 years in the film sector, Jani believes Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is not just an essential bedrock for the UK screen industries, but crucial for the growth of jobs, investment and reputation. 

Overseeing the London Metropolitan Skills Cluster, Jani is leading the charge to make sure more Black creatives are given opportunities to enter the sector at any time of their life. He said: “I am delighted to be speaking at this year’s TNB XPO and look forward to sharing exciting information about a new skills cluster in the capital. This fills me with pride, sculpting new avenues for growth, innovation, and prosperity. 

“The foundation of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion is our bedrock as we cultivate the productive ground for our creative industry’s growth and employability, ushering in an era of boundless possibilities.”

Attendees can expect to hear from organisations including BECTU, Doc Society, Renaissance Studios and more, talking about their interventions and schemes to create a more open industry. Whilst Warner Bros. Discovery, in particular, will revisit the success of their Black Britain Unspoken programme, a filmmaking initiative that provides Black British storytellers, filmmakers and creatives space to share perspectives and experiences of being Black and British.

The fourth and final day brings an international flavour with speakers from the US, South America, Caribbean, Europe and Africa running online roundtables to enable overseas connections and co-productions buffered with the advice and support from BFI’s UK Global Screen Fund. 

Also on stage at Rich Mix will be insights from Documentary Film Council (DFC) on advocating for independent non-fiction production, Film Distributors’ Association demystifying the exhibition, distribution and sales process plus a unique look at Black representation in film collections and handling of materials from the team at London’s Screen Archives.

Throughout the four days there will be film showcases, pitches, Black finance market and networking events as well as a recruitment fair for those looking for work – making TNB XPO a perfect platform to build resilience for Black creatives, generating opportunities autonomously – all under one roof.

TNB XPO is free to attend and is for anyone working in the UK screen industries, at any stage of their career. Tickets can be booked by visiting tnbfc.co.uk/tnb-xpo-2024.

ENDS


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