How Becoming a ScreenSkills Mentor Can Make a Difference | Promotion


For Ben Bellingham in Wales, it was “the perfect support at the perfect time”. Mel Bezalel believes it boosted her career after maternity leave while Iona Beresford at Northampton now feels confident to start working in costume.

What made the difference? Mentoring.

Building trust, expanding your network, and developing understanding of the industry are the benefits of mentoring that are consistently cited by the more than 3,000 people who have been supported by the ScreenSkills Mentoring Network since its inception three years ago.

Supported by the BFI – using national lottery funds as part of the BFI’s Future Film Skills strategy – the program directly matched hundreds of peer mentors, but also offered advice, resources and sometimes funding. to a range of partner organizations. These include tackling under-representation in industry, such as Women in Film and Television (WFTV), MAMA Youth, and TripleC Disabled Artists Networking Community. Others, such as BAFTA Scotland and TV Talent North, support talent in countries and regions, with even more operations in specialist areas, from the British Society of Cinematographers to the British Film Designers Guild.

Mel Bezalel had led the development team of a large production company but, after a nine-month maternity leave, feared that being an active mother would jeopardize her professional trajectory. Mentoring former BBC executive Danny Cohen on the ScreenSkills-backed WFTV program has been “a huge boost to my confidence,” she says. “I wouldn’t have considered interviewing for the editor-in-chief position I now hold at E4 so soon after my leave without the support of the mentorship. I am more confident now and I trust my instinct more. Mentoring has definitely accelerated my career, which I am truly grateful for.

Provide focus

Ben Bellingham used the Bectu Cymru Mentoring 4 Screen program to explore how to switch from unscripted TV and pursue his passion for drama. The most valuable benefit of mentoring has been providing guidance, he says. “Knowing that I wanted to script, I really needed help navigating this landscape,” Bellingham explains. “The mentorship opportunity arose just when I needed some guidance. I really needed someone who I could bounce back from and ask questions.

This helped him land a job in the art department and then in the department he chose as a camera assistant.

Iona Beresford used ScreenSkills-supported mentorship with Screen Northants, to learn more about costume work in filmmaking, ready for when she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fashion.

“One of the main motivations was to develop a network and understand the cinematic landscape,” she says. But her mentor also offered practical advice on areas such as job opportunities and costume department responsibilities and invited Beresford to attend a shoot. She then got work as a costume trainee.

“Mentoring has definitely made me grow exponentially compared to my peers, in terms of opportunity and confidence. And it was amazing that the mentoring program was in my hometown.

An invaluable and stimulating resource

Manchester-based Vishal Handa spent six years in the film industry in India, first as a performer before stepping behind the camera, then returned to the UK last year. “I had no contact or background for the British film industry,” he recalls. “ScreenSkills has been an invaluable resource – and a starting point for networking and understanding how the industry works. “

Lesley-Anne Macfarlane did theater in the UK before working as a film producer in Trinidad for five years. “When I came back to the UK in 2018, I wanted to start my on-screen career as a producer,” she says. “I knew that mentoring could be useful, to help me integrate into the industry and to orient myself. “

The mentoring expanded her network and was “empowering,” says Macfarlane, who has since worked on a short film as an associate producer and co-produced a feature film with a social enterprise. “Without the support of the mentorship, the process would have been much slower and less successful,” she adds.

Benefits are also a two-way street. In Wales, Sarah Stevenson has been both a mentor and a mentee. “There’s an altruistic aspect, sure, but I wanted to invest in good people to work with in the future,” she says.

Television director Fatima Salaria adds, “Mentoring helps me connect with a younger generation. I learn from them and I am also reassured about the relevance of my skills. I believe mentoring makes me a better manager.

If you have an experience to share, sign up as a mentor on the “Become a Mentor” page of the ScreenSkills website. For more information and resources, read the Mentoring section by clicking here.

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