This week, BAFTA has launched its annual Breakthrough Brits campaign in partnership with Burberry. The initiative identifies the next generation of British talent in film, TV and games, providing them with 12 months’ access to one-to-one mentoring, guidance sessions and networking opportunities to help them into the next stage in their careers.
Since the launch of the initiative in 2013, four Breakthrough Brits have become BAFTA winners: Games producer Daniel Gray and game designer Rex Crowle (as part of the development teams for Monument Valley and Tearaway respectively), screenwriter Dominic Mitchell (In The Flesh) and producer Marc Williamson (The Last Chance School). Games sound designer and 2015 Breakthrough Brit Jessica Saunders also worked on the BAFTA-winning Batman: Arkham Knight (British Game in 2016), which holds the record for the fastest selling game of 2015. In addition, actor Tom Holland, who was named a Breakthrough Brit in 2013, received the EE Rising Star Award at this year’s British Academy Film Awards.
A jury of experts from film, television and games will select up to 20 on-screen and off-screen talented newcomers to join the 2017 cohort of Breakthrough Brits who will be revealed at a reception at the global Burberry flagship, 121 Regent Street, later this year.
Figures who have given support to Breakthrough Brits in the past year include: director Barry Jenkins (Moonlight); actors David Oyelowo (A United Kingdom, Selma) and Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl, Pride and Prejudice); game designers Tim Schafer (Broken Age, Psychonauts) and Mike Bithell (Thomas was Alone, Monstermind); producers Jeremy Kleiner (The Big Short, 12 Years a Slave) and Marc Samuelson (Arlington Road, Wilde); cinematographers Urszula Pontikos (Marcella, Humans) and Sharone Meir (Whiplash, Coach Carter); screenwriters Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady, Shame) and Lucinda Coxon (The Danish Girl, The Heart of Me); games writer Rob Yescombe (The Division, Alien: Isolation); presenter and journalist Stacey Dooley (Stacey Dooley Investigates); Ian Livingstone CBE, co-founder of Games Workshop; and Ukie CEO Jo Twist.
Actor David Oyelowo, who mentored Breakthrough Brits in 2016, said of the initiative: “Encouragement and advocacy are essential to any and every artist’s development. There are a handful of individuals who gave me the self-confidence and belief I needed to ‘go for it’ as an actor. Without them I’d be unhappily pursuing a different career.”
Actor Rosamund Pike, who was Breakthrough Brits juror and mentor in 2016, said: “When we’re starting out in this business, we all need mentoring. We all crave to be part of a club, to get that seal of approval – whether it’s working with someone you admire, being part of an organisation such as BAFTA, being an alumni of a recognised theatre school. It all matters; it makes you feel that you’re not just this little island set adrift in a crazy sea. We all want to learn, but we never know the right questions to ask. With hindsight, looking back, I feel if I had an opportunity like this and was nurtured though it, it could have made a huge difference.”
Amanda Berry OBE, Chief Executive of BAFTA, said: “The success of Breakthrough Brits is a real source of pride for everyone at BAFTA, and we’re delighted to be partnering with Burberry for a fifth year on such an important new talent initiative. Year on year, the calibre of talent we identify through the initiative exceeds expectations, and we were particularly thrilled that a number of our Breakthrough Brits were among the winners and nominees at our most recent EE British Academy Film Awards, and look forward to seeing this success replicated across our other Award ceremonies.”
Individuals can apply to be a BAFTA Breakthrough Brit at http://bit.ly/Breakthrough-Brits. Industry professionals can recommend someone by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org; BAFTA will then contact the recommended individual to invite them to submit an application before the Monday 30 May deadline.