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Manchester’s Young Audiences Content Fund announces new slate of projects

Jackie Edwards

The BFI has announced a new slate of development projects through its Manchester-based Young Audiences Content Fund.

The Fund, which is supporting a variety of new television projects for all ages up to 18, has awarded 63 development applications in its first 12 months, with a committed spend of £1,719,620.

Jackie Edwards, Head of the Young Audiences Content Fund (above), said: “We’re incredibly proud of the range of projects we’re able to support within our development slate, nurturing stories and concepts we feel will enrich television for young audiences.

“Throughout the first year, we have been overwhelmed by the quality of the development applications, and I’m hugely excited about the exciting new UK talent we have been able to support.

“We are of course continuing to support and fund applications through lockdown, and as the majority of development activity can be accomplished remotely, we encourage producers with great new ideas to continue submitting applications.”

John Whittingdale, Minister for Media and Data, added: “It is hugely important that the diverse experiences of young people across the country are represented on screen.

“This publicly-funded scheme continues to support homegrown talent and original content that not only inspires our younger generation but is also properly representative of the world we live in.”

The latest round of development funding awards, made over the last six months, embraces all techniques, genres and audiences, and includes a mix of programmes addressing key social issues such as LGBTIQ+, disability, climate change and racial discrimination.

The Young Audiences Contend Fund has awarded development funding to the following projects within this slate:

For teens from ages 13-18:

  • Elysian Film Group’s teen drama ‘Future Hot’, about a group of young climate change activists who decide to take action – only for the corporate world to strike back.
  • Singer Films’ documentary series ‘Redefining Refugees’, following refugee and Olympian Yusra Mardini and aimed at inspiring young Muslim women in the UK to compete in professional sport whilst confronting the misrepresentation of refugees.
  • Duck Soup Films’ teen drama ‘Dance School’, about an ethnically and socio-economically diverse group of students aged 16-25 attending a world-renowned dance school in Chapeltown, Leeds.
  • Empress Films’ documentary series ‘They’, chronicling the lives of four extremely contrasting LGBTIQ+ teenagers across the UK. Shining a light on teenage experience, exploring what unites and divides them and emphasising the positive that comes with being queer, young and proud.
  • Bryncoed-television’s teen drama ‘As Dead As It Gets’ is a rites of passage series about a group of 16-year-old school friends from Croydon. On completion of their GCSE exams and energised by their new-found freedom, our teens dive into experience with little regard for the consequences – navigating drugs, sex, trauma, death and redemption.
  • Shudder Film’s scripted comedy from Gavin Williams and Jack Tarling, ‘Synch Estate’ takes an urgent social issue – and gives it a satirical, sci-fi twist. Fast-paced, funny, sexy, and rude, it will reflect the spirit of the UK blending edgy, bawdy humour with grounded character-driven drama.
  • Hillbilly Films’ comedy drama ‘Troupes’, set in a coastal town in the North West of England, from writer Georgia Christou.

For tweens and children from ages 6-12:

  • Bowled Over Media’s exclusive film ‘Young Bee Keepers of the World Unite’ will follow young British bee-keepers at schools and bee clubs as they work towards representing their country at the International Meeting of Young Beekeepers (IMYB). As children all over the world take tackling the climate crisis into their own hands, bee-keeping is a practical response growing in popularity.
  • Scattered Pictures’ imagination grabbing comedy series ‘Ella and Sir Whoopsalot’ has been created by Newcastle-based comedy writer Bridget Deane, directed by Emmy Award winner Simon Gibney, and set in a real-life castle. ‘Ella & Sir Whoopsalot’ is centred around the friendship and adventures of nine-year-old Ella Chambers and her best friend, Sir Whoopsalot – who just happens to be a six-hundred-year old knight.
  • Bandit Cornwall’s ‘Alien8ed’, a contemporary sci-fi action drama series sees a group of Cornish teens test their friendships, prove their maturity, ingenuity and bravery by working together to smash a growing threat.
  • Animation Garden’s ‘Mustard and Ketchup’ is an animated comedy sketch show providing positive and age appropriate representation for the LGBT community, with the character’s sexuality incidental to their madcap adventures.

For pre-school ages 0-5:

  • Mackinnon and Saunders’ ‘Mix Mups’, an animation series created by journalist Rebecca Atkinson, founder of #ToysLikeMe, a not-for-profit organisation which aims to increase the representation of disability in toys. This series seeks to better represent disability in children’s television.
  • Love Love Films’ mixed media preschool show ‘Pop Paper City’, which incorporates live action instructional craft sequences into animation with the aim of inspiring children to create their own worlds and stories.
  • Eagle vs Bat mixed media show ‘The Sound Collector’ uses stop-motion to share short stories about a little guy and his love for sound. The Sound Collector’s lead character wears hearing aids and is a rare representation of disability (hearing impairment) on screen.
  • Illuminated Films’ snappy, thoughtful and rewarding preschool adventure ‘Rocket’ is based on the book Look Up! by Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola. Rocket is an inquisitive, excitable young girl with an insatiable thirst for knowledge and understanding. We follow her journey growing up testing, trying, and learning new things (to varying degrees of success) and exploring her identity as a young girl of West Indian heritage, living in a diverse and bustling inner city.

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