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Sheffield film producer warns of skills gap

Mark Herbert, Warp Films
Mark Herbert, Warp Films
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The producer behind This Is England says Sheffield needs to work with neighbouring cities to fill a skills gap.

Mark Herbert, chief executive of Sheffield based Warp Films, spoke out as the city bids to host Channel 4’s new national HQ.

Sheffield is competing against at least a dozen other cities but Mr Herbert says when it comes to film and television production, the regions need to work together.

He told a meeting of the city’s creative and digital companies: “We can’t think about the Channel 4 bid just as a Sheffield remit.

“This Is England’s production team was mostly from Sheffield and we used the Workstation but the art director was from Manchester and director Shane Meadows is originally from Uttoxeter.

“We are a Sheffield company but we have to strengthen that by working closely with other regional hubs. We can’t work in isolation in Sheffield.

“We need our roots in Sheffield but we can have crew from Leeds, Manchester and the Midlands.”

Mr Herbert joked that it was time to put aside rivalry with neighbouring cities.

“It’s not football, I can’t stand Leeds FC, but in a professional working capacity there’s some great talent out there.”

He also said young people entering the film industry needed more guidance on the wide range of jobs available.

“Young people focus on being a writer, director or producer but there is a huge number of jobs in post production.

“A film’s credits may list 90 jobs and we need to take the focus off those three jobs and show young people there is a whole crew who work on a film.

“I did a night scene on one production which had 70 cameras but it’s so hard finding those technicians. It’s frustrating that everybody wants to be a producer, director or writer.”

He added that it was important to stop the “talent drain”.

“The more people I can use from Sheffield the more I will use, if they are of the quality and standard I need.

“We need to look at long term employment for people rather than six week jobs here and there.

“Post production is one area we can look at as a production may only take 10 weeks but post-production can take a year.”