Creative Skillset, the skills body for UK screen, is working with the Armed Forces charity, Help for Heroes, to offer service personnel and veterans that have been affected by their military service the opportunity to forge a new career in film and television…

A pilot programme will be launched at the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre, Tedworth House, in Wiltshire this month with an introduction to how skills learned in the Armed Forces could be translated into behind-the-camera roles in screen.

The programme is the brainchild of Gareth Ellis-Unwin, the Oscar-winning producer of The King’s Speech, in his new role as Head of Film at Creative Skillset. It is supported by National Lottery funds awarded to Creative Skillset from the British Film Institute to deliver its Future Film Skills programme. The introduction will be delivered by the Guild of British Camera Technicians.

The initiative builds on connections made when Gareth was producing the 2014 film, Kajaki: The True Story, which told the story of a rescue mission to save soldiers injured by explosions in an unmarked minefield in Afghanistan in 2006. It led to Gareth becoming a Help for Heroes brand ambassador.

He met a number of those involved in the operation and says: “They were a very capable, bright group of young men, and whilst some were horribly injured, many still had the physical strength to commit to manual work. It struck me that anyone that could keep an armoured vehicle working in the desert could probably cope with the physical, technical and logistical demands of working in film.

“I believe that opening up the world of film to people who might not otherwise have thought it possible could be an enormously powerful way to signal what these men and women are capable of doing while addressing genuine skills shortages in the industry.”

Steve Sinclair-Day, Career Recovery Manager at Help for Heroes, says: “We are very grateful for the support of Creative Skillset and the Guild of Camera Technicians in making this happen. It’s fantastic to get real practical advice and guidance from leaders in their field, who recognise the transferable skills that veterans can offer.”

A one-day ‘Introduction to the film and television industry’ will take place at Tedworth House on Tuesday 25 September and then again at the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre in Catterick, Yorkshire, on Thursday 4 October. The aim of each day is to provide services personnel with an overview of the industry and a practical explanation of roles where their skills could be used in film and television.

Those interested in taking training further will be then interviewed for a place on Creative Skillset’s flagship placement programme, Trainee Finder, which matches trainees with films and prestige television dramas.

One of the roles Gareth Ellis-Unwin thought might be suitable for veterans was working as a grip – key technical workers on a film set, responsible for the way in which a camera is supported, whether that be a crane, a tripod or through equipment such as a Steadicam.

There are roles such as medics, drivers and cooks that have their direct equivalent in film and television as well as a number of jobs in the military involving skills that could be transferred.