A behind the scenes photo from the Netflix series 'Clickbait'.

Screenworks is the latest organisation to partner with Netflix to boost skills within the industry, announcing today it will provide free training for up-and-coming practitioners in northern NSW.

Backed by a $500,000 investment from the streamer, and supported by the NSW Government, the Regional Crew Development Program also incorporates placements and work experience on productions with the goal of creating new career pathways in the field.

Screenworks chief executive Ken Crouch told IF the initiative had been in the works since the beginning of the year when Netflix was preparing to shoot God’s Favourite Idiot in the Northern Rivers.

“We were helping them to get as many locals as possible employed on that production at the time,” he said.

“A conversation about skill gaps came up and we talked about what we would really love to do to make an impact in regional Australia.”

The three key components of the program consist of regional crew development traineeships, regional crew development targeted skill set training, and locations and crew referral services.

The traineeships are 12-month, fully paid and contracted entry-level trainee positions that offer a Certificate III in Screen and Media qualifications, as well as practical experience on local productions.

Existing skills gaps in the local screen industry and opportunities linked to in-bound productions are the focus for the short-form skill set training program, which is being delivered in partnership with the NSW Department of Training. Available to a minimum of 50 candidates, the training is also designed to facilitate transition into the screen industry for workers with transferable skills.

The Regional Crew Development Program will also include funding for Screenworks’ locations and crew referral services in order to increase the number of local practitioners being employed on productions in Northern NSW, as well as more widely across regional Australia. 

Crouch said the Northern Rivers was an example of an area that undergone a “huge increase” in production across the past 12 months, creating high demand for crew services.

“Since August 2020, we have seen Nine Perfect Strangers, Eden, Bosch & Rockit, Seriously Red, God’s Favourite Idiot, as well as stuff like I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here,” he said.

“Just on those productions alone, based on total budgets, we’re looking at projects worth more than $200 million and almost 1000 jobs.

“Our priority has always been about trying to get as many locals employed on those productions coming to the region, maximising the economic benefit for the region, and also trying to attract more production to northern NSW to create that pipeline of production that creates ongoing jobs.”

The announcement of the program comes after Netflix announced in June that it would invest more than $500,000 across two years into training initiatives designed to support First Nations communities and storytellers as part of a partnership with AFTRS. The company has also advertised for two entry-level post-production attachments on the upcoming Heartbreak High reboot.

Netflix director of studio and production affairs, APAC, Deb Richards, said it was essential that the industry created a pipeline of up-and-coming, skilled professionals to service the current production boom.

“We’ve entered into this new partnership to ensure people in regional Australia, particularly those from diverse or underrepresented backgrounds, can share the benefit of the increasing production activity and employment opportunities, and ensure a positive impact in their communities for many years to come,” she said.

Minister for Arts Don Harwin encouraged locals in Northern NSW to apply for the program.

“I am delighted that Netflix has chosen to join forces with Screenworks to deliver these tailored traineeships, which I know will ensure that regional voices are front and centre in the screen industry, and I encourage all aspiring filmmakers and screen creatives in Northern NSW to apply.”

Production companies and heads of departments interested in taking on trainee placements in 2022 can contact Screenworks via email trainees@screenworks.com.au. People in the northern NSW region interested in the traineeships or skill set training can find out more here.

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