Film London at the TNB XPO 2024

Latest 3 Apr 2024

News Story

Last week, we were privileged to take part in the annual New Black Film Collective XPO, held at Rich Mix London. As the principal partner of the XPO, Film London hosted a series of industry panels, workshops and keynote speeches, contributing to a fantastic week of celebrating Black talent in the UK screen industries. From Film London's Artist Moving Image Network, to our Equal Access Network and London's Screen Archives, we're covering all the highlights from an insightful few days at TNB XPO 2024.

Film London's Head of Skills, Babak Jani, opened the XPO with a keynote speech addressing the need to create more opportunities for underrepresented talent in the screen industries. Speaking about Film London's work in the skills space, Babak said:

“Some great initiatives are on the way that will create opportunities for all and especially a lot of talent in this room. With the Metro London Skills Clusters, our main job is to create a centre, for targeted training in specific jobs that suffer shortages in the industry. As Film London begins to work more closely with higher and further education, we are creating something very unique and very central - a place for you to learn, grow and find jobs”.

FLAMIN Animations artists 2023-24 at TNB XPO 2024

Following the opening keynote speech, Black artist animators from the 2023-24 FLAMIN Animations programme showcased their work in a special presentation to XPO audiences. Yasmine Djedje-Fisher-Azoume, Folake Fadojutimi, Gisela Mulindwa and Duncan Senkumba screened new animations and work-in-progress after receiving funding, development support and bespoke mentoring during the 2023-24 round of FLAMIN Animations. We've got more info about these exciting FLAMIN animators and all the details about a brand-new round of applications for the programme here.

Later in the day, we were treated to an Equal Access Network panel moderated by Film London's own Azariah Jade, Industry Skills Partnership Manager, and Tomi Ojo, EAN Special Projects Executive. Joining Azariah and Tomi were EAN members and rising industry talents who shared their experiences about navigating the film and TV industry.

Rickardo Beckless-Burrows (Post Production Coordinator & Screenwriter) spoke about the vitality of representation in our screen industries: "Visibility is important…it’s important to see yourself in these roles in the industry so you can see yourself in that position." Rickardo then reflected on Film London's EAN and how:

“The EAN newsletter enabled me to get my post production coordinator job on One Day which is now out on Netflix !”

Kianne Sadeq also shared her experiences on working with the EAN:

I found the EAN and then found my way onto the accounts department on a major production, something that wouldn’t happen in LA or anywhere else. “I did the return to work scheme with the EAN and it was amazing, we’re still in touch with our incredible mentors. It’s an incredible opportunity and you’ll see what you’re able to achieve and that’s how I got back in after 20 years off.

Kianne Sadeq, Accounts Clerk and EAN member

After an in-depth discussion about different ways each of the panelists found there way into and throughout the industry, Tomi Ojo (EAN Projects Executive) concluded on a positive note: “There is change, and this panel of talent is a testament to that progress, but there’s still way more we can do.”

Shortly afterward, Film London's Mentoring Manager, Moira McVean, led a panel on 'Finding your Mentor' in the screen industries, highlighting differences between coaching, mentoring and advice sharing. Moira reminded the audience of EAN’s open-door support: "If you have a specific need we might not be able to help you with formally, we might be able to help you informally, by connecting you with the right person."

On the panel, Mara Cracaleanu, a Producer/Director/Writer and Film London Connect Mentee - when asked by Moira what inspired her to apply for Film London Connect, said: "I did mentoring
before at the University of Westminster, when I studied my BA in film, and it opened a lot of doors for me, and new perspectives... I applied to the Film London mentoring programme because we need people who we can talk to, and learn from their advice. I was then paired with a great mentor in production (Film and TV Producer, Neil Chordia)."

Also on the busy opening day of the XPO, Film London's Head of Skills, Babak Jani chaired a panel on the vital subject of Mental Health and Resilience. Panelist Sarah McCaffery, founder of Solas Mind, a leading mental health company in the screen industries, described how “it’s really important that we’re not a nameless and faceless service, so we’ve tried to implement that approach in the industry”. Like Solas Mind, The Film and TV Charity provides crucial mental health support to talent on productions in the UK. Represented on the panel by Manie Moolman, service delivery manager at the Charity, Manie explained how:

“As an industry looking to change for the better, we need to be aware that everyone on crews are mentally healthy to help avoid isolation and burnout.”

Maddie Kitchen FRSA of Sobriety Films then provided an insightful appeal into how a trauma-informed approach to mental health needed to be implemented by industry.

On the final day of the XPO, we were treated to a presentation from London's Screen Archives' Lauren Gee and the new Undocumented Project run in collaboration with the New Black Film Collective. Lauren showcased the new project and how: “Undocumented seeks to address the lack of Black stories in screen archives through a public programme that deepens community engagement through practical and intergenerational activities.”

Dr June Givanni, founder of June Givanni PanAfrican Cinema Archive said: “research even within existing archives is important to make those connections. Our histories overlap."

Harlynn Homan from the Black Cultural Archives revealed that making those important connections through archives isn't always easy: “A challenge as an archivist we need to work on together is language, which can be a barrier to access, with different generations within the same community understanding different terms”.

On the subject of access to archives, Etienne Johnson from Hackney Archives stated that: “institutions will do what they’ve always done until they are nudged to do something different. In my role I’m able to think about things in a different way. Archives are very hidden sometimes. Having them out in mix with life is important.”

As our final panel drew to a close, there remained a strong buzz upstairs at Rich Mix, as the XPO's Black Market continued on...

Organisations such as BBC Writers Room, The Kusp, and Georgina Bobb TV exhibited various programmes for black creatives to forge a career in the screen industries at an opportunities fair organised by the EAN and The New Black Film Collective called ‘The Black Market.’

Various departments at Film London represented the organisation throughout the week, such as The Talent Development & Production team (TDP), IIBD (Inward Investment & Business Development), Games London, FLAMIN, and the LSA.

Danwen Huang, Project Coordinator at Games London had this to say when representing Games London at the Black Market: "following the Games London panel, I managed to have a chat with a games developer about their interest in partaking Game Changer. I also chatted with someone about advice on careers in games and the events happening at London Games Festival. Someone also mentioned how inspiring the panel was to them as a gamer."

That wraps an incredible week at the TNB XPO!