“I’d like to thank my agent, God and the jobcentre.” Ministers are hoping that a unique partnership between Jobcentre Plus and the British film industry will help launch the unemployed on a path to Hollywood.
On Monday, Belle, a short film produced by trainees plucked from the jobcentre queue in collaboration with industry professionals, will have its premiere at the ICA in London.
The film – a drama about a mother’s conflicted feelings towards her daughter – will be introduced by Esther McVey, the Employment minister and former GMTV presenter.
Signature Pictures, the first production company to partner directly with Jobcentre Plus, hopes that leading producers and directors will sign up and use the supply of talented aspirants desperate to swap the dole queue for experience on a movie set.
Belle was produced with the help of 13 trainees, chosen after an extensive interview process through London jobcentres, who were given tasks across direction, editing, sound, make-up, costume, cinematography and marketing. Now Signature hopes to enter the short at the Cannes film festival.
One of the participants, Guy Larsen, a trainee director, has since signed off the dole: “I am no longer on jobseeker’s allowance; I have been offered a contract at Google, making films for one of their largest YouTube channels and wish to make more films in the future,” he said.
Signature Pictures is the idea of Jon Max Spatz, a screenwriter and independent producer. “Working in a film environment gives young people transferable skills but the work ethic is also one of the toughest, on a film set,” he said. “I thought working with the jobcentres would be very bureaucratic but they were very helpful.”
The opportunity is currently classified as work experience, so the trainees do not receive a top-up to their £56.80 weekly JSA.
Ms McVey said: “I got started in TV by doing work experience... Creative industries can offer lots of opportunities, but it can sometimes be difficult for young people to get their foot on the career ladder, which is why it’s so great that Jobcentre Plus is working with companies such as Signature Pictures.”