The UK film and animation industry is a fast-growing sector, which is generating a swathe of new career opportunities for young people. The film industry, in the UK in particular but also across Europe, has witnessed a massive transformation in recent years. This is due to a lot of investment over a number of years, advances in technology, the rise of streaming platforms, and changing consumer preferences.
We now have a really exciting environment for young people who are passionate about creative storytelling and want to work in a dynamic and fast-growing industry.
As a film school for young people, we are often asked for advice on how to enter a competitive industry, or what the career opportunities for young people in film and media might be. And the truth is, that there is not just opportunity there, but a very real need for talented and skilled young people within the industry and longterm, enjoyable employment prospects available for those who like to create.
Here, we’ll take a look at the various opportunities that lie ahead, and the role that young people can play in shaping the future of the film industry.
Growth in the UK Film and Animation Industry
The UK film and animation industry is a significant contributor to the UK economy. According to a report by the British Film Institute (BFI), the UK film industry contributed £7.9 billion to the economy in 2019, up from £3.1 billion in 2000. The animation industry generated a turnover of £1.6 billion in 2019, with over 4,000 people employed in the sector.
The UK is also home to some of the world’s leading animation and film production companies, including Aardman Animations, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), and Pinewood Studios. These companies are responsible for producing some of the most iconic films and animations, such as Wallace and Gromit, Star Wars, and Harry Potter.
The Challenges and Opportunities Ahead
Despite the success of the industry, there are some challenges to overcome to ensure its future growth and sustainability. One of the most significant challenges facing the industry is the need to attract and retain creative and technical talent – the people who create and produce film, TV and media. This is especially true for young people, who are essential to the industry’s future. By 2025, it is estimated that the UK will need an additional 20,000 creatives in the film and animation workforce to service its demand.
Another challenge facing the industry is the need to keep up with the latest technological advances. The development and accessibility of technologies including virtual and augmented realities has created new opportunities for storytelling, but it also requires new skills and knowledge that need to be developed and integrated into the industry.
Despite these challenges, there are also many opportunities for the film industry to grow and evolve. One of the most significant opportunities is the demand for content to be delivered at speed. The success and competitive nature of streaming platforms, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, has created new demand for high-quality content at a pace that we’ve never seen before. This has lead to an increase in investment in film and animation production, and therefore more job opportunities for film industry talent. Even with the recent cuts at Netflix, content production is still much higher today than it was just 5 years ago.
Another opportunity for the industry is the increasing demand for interactive and immersive content. This includes virtual reality experiences and video games that allow consumers to become part of the story. This has created even more opportunities for young people with skills in animation, game design and programming.
How Can Young People Influence the Film Industry’s Future?
Young people as emerging creatives have a crucial role to play in shaping the future of the UK film industry. The industry thrives on new ideas and storytelling, there has to be a continual flow of new content for it to produce and release. With fresh perspectives, innovative ideas, and enthusiasm, there is the scope for plenty of young creatives to bring new energy and creativity to the industry. But to play a part here, they need the right skills and training.
One of the most important skills young people can benefit from is a solid foundation in the basics of film and animation production. This includes knowledge of storytelling, cinematography, editing, sound design, and animation techniques.
Although these skills are covered to some degree by film and media courses at schools or universities, they are often more theoretic or academic in nature and lack any real practical skills training. Feedback from members of the industry is often that the young people entering the industry lack in practical skills and need a lot of ‘on-the-job’ training. This is one of the reasons why we always make sure our filmmaking courses for young people are fully practical and focus on skills development to a much higher level, and also why we partner with lots of schools.
Another important skill young people need is the ability to adapt to new technologies and platforms. This includes knowledge of virtual reality, augmented reality, and gaming platforms.
Young people who are able to master these skills will be well-positioned to take advantage of the new job opportunities that are emerging in the industry. They can also contribute to the development of new storytelling techniques and formats, which are critical to the film industry’s future success.
In addition to technical skills, young people can also contribute to the film industry’s future through their diversity and inclusivity. The film and animation industry in the UK has historically been a very male-dominated, very white-led sector, but there is a growing recognition of the need for greater diversity and representation. The film industry is changing, and has more space and opportunity for women, and for creatives from many different backgrounds to join and offer more innovative and inclusive storytelling.
Young people can also contribute to the film industry’s future through an entrepreneurial spirit. There has been a huge levelling in content creation through social media and YouTube, young content creators can now put their own stories and their own content out there without the need for a big production team, or a distributor on board.
On YouTube, you’ll find short films, animations, and web series made by young people and are readily accessible to audiences online. This is without even considering the opportunities of vlogging, influencer-style production, partnerships and ambassadorships. There are endless opportunities for young producers to create high-quality content and build a following, establish not just themselves but also creating new job opportunities for others.
The UK film industry offers a dynamic and fast-growing world of opportunity for young people, as creators, as technicians, as entrepreneurs and producers. Young people have a critical role to play in shaping the industry’s future. By acquiring the necessary skills, as well as embracing diversity and inclusivity, young people can help ensure that the UK film industry continues to grow and thrive for years to come.
About Sparks Film School
Sparks is a youth film school for ages 5-18.
We teach young filmmakers practical skills in filmmaking, from directing and screenwriting, through to editing, production design, cinematography and acting for camera. We also teach young animators and photographers through our animation courses and photography courses.
We have 30+ youth film schools around the UK. Find out more about Sparks Film School here >>