£833,000 to fund Mersey film and TV skills academy 

An £833,000 cash injection will be used to set up a new TV and film skills training academy in Liverpool city region. Tony McDonough reports

Film, television
Liverpool has provided a backdrop for numerous film and TV productions


A new film and TV skills academy will be set up in Liverpool city region.

Next Tuesday (October 17) Liverpool City Council’s cabinet is expected to vote to accept a £833,030 grant from the British Film Institute and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to set up one of four Northern training hubs.

As part of the Screen Alliance North initiative training and skills hubs will also be established in Greater Manchester, Yorkshire and the North East.

Liverpool is already a popular destination for film and TV production companies. In recent years it has provided a backdrop for numerous TV shows including Peaky Blinders and Doctor Who as well as blockbuster movies such as The Batman.

Liverpool Film Office plays an instrumental role in this success. Backed with the £3m Liverpool City Region Production Fund it works hard to attract film-makers to the city. In June it announced it was supporting a second series of Jimmy McGovern’s drama Time.

However, the city has long been at a disadvantage to other places such as London due to a lack of an indoor sound stage and post-production facilities. It means once filming is complete the film-makers complete their productions elsewhere.

To address this the city council and the combined authority are pushing forward with plans for a film and TV studios complex at the site of the former Littlewoods headquarters at Edge Lane.

Liverpool City Council has already invested £3m to create two pop-up studios on the site called The Depot. And Manchester developer Capital & Centric is overseeing plans to create a £70m film studios complex at the same location.

However, to complement this city region also needs a skilled workforce capable of taking full advantage of this investment. In August Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham said he wanted to see a screen academy opened. That is now about to become a reality.

In a bid to create a more inclusive, fairer and diverse screen workforce, the four regional hubs will set out an initial three-year programme.

This will support people in accessing the industry through training and work experience, with the ambition of ensuring a brand new cohort of professionals who can thrive in the industry beyond 2026. It will include:

  • Entry level training courses.
  • Paid industry placements to work on film and TV production.
  • Industry-led workshops, panels and masterclasses.
  • Industry-supported apprenticeships.
  • Industry-focused careers and networking events.
  • Film and TV studio and set visits.
  • Industry and further and higher education partnerships.

There are currently around 22,000 industry professionals in or around the four northern regions. With production levels already returned to pre-pandemic levels there is the need to grow the numbers of people working in this sector.

Steve Rotheram said: “This investment is about raising young people’s ambitions and making them realise that they don’t need to move down south to build a career in the film industry.

“Instead, we want to give the next generation access to opportunities to train and develop their skills and ensure we’re retaining the very best talent here in the north.”


The Batman
Robert Pattinson is The Batman in a movie that was filmed in Liverpool
Cllr Harry Doyle
Liverpool Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Culture, Cllr Harry Doyle


In 2022/23, Liverpool Film Office attracted and supported 239 productions, generating 1,481 days of filming and bringing an economic boost of £28.8m.

It also supported 990 full time equivalent jobs across the city region and created 44 new entrant roles with paid work on a feature film and high-end TV drama.

Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Culture, Cllr Harry Doyle, added: “Demand for productions to be filmed across the Liverpool city region is reaching an all-time high, and shows no sign of slowing down.

“We need to ensure that we do everything we can to continue to support and develop this region’s incredibly talented workforce, giving everyone – regardless of their background – the opportunity to access training and get their foot in the door of the film and TV world.”

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