An emerging Hartlepool production firm has received another BBC boost as our region continues to attract and foster more film-making talent.
Hartlepool firm Sea & Sky Pictures will join five other North-East companies in receiving financial support through the £1million Small Indie Fund, as well as a BBC commissioning editor as a mentor to support their growth.
The seven-figure fund was launched in 2020 to support the development of small independent production companies with turnovers below £10m across Drama, Entertainment, Comedy, Factual, and Daytime sectors.
It comes after Sea & Sky Pictures was selected as a North East production company to co-develop a slate of ideas for BBC Comedy working alongside Hat Trick as part of the BBC’s Regional Partnership Scheme.
This partnership will see the company co-develop a raft of original comedy projects to help strengthen and enhance local talent and project development in the region, with the aim of getting more of the North East seen and heard within the BBC’s comedy output.
Adam Boabda, Managing Director of Sea and Sky Pictures, said: “The Regional Partnership with BBC Comedy and Hat Trick has been brilliant – we already have two scripted comedy projects in further development, with three more in the pipeline.
“Now we are part of The BBC Small Indie Fund and it’s our Unscripted department who get to work with commissioners, and hopefully create the next big returnable format.
“The support we are getting is central to our future growth as a company and for the North East as a whole.”
It comes after the £11.4million North East Screen Industries Partnership was backed by £4.5million of investment from the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority.
The partnership, delivered by North East Screen, was established to capitalise on the BBC’s huge commitment to invest £25million in the region to help fund TV production and talent development across the region’s creative sectors.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Sea & Sky are another great example of the sheer depth of talent we have right on our doorstep. I’m delighted the BBC is sitting up and noticing how much we have to offer by their investment in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool following their £25million commitment to the region.
“We want to make Hartlepool a cultural capital of the North – and with our £4.5million investment in screen and film industries, the £16.5million boost to the town through the Levelling Up Fund, and the Hartlepool Mayoral Development Corporation turbocharging investment, we are within reach of making Hartlepool a real centre for filmmaking.
“We’ve had more than a dozen great productions in the region in the past year – and the efforts of firms like Sea & Sky means our home-grown creative talent can stay local and go far.”
The Mayor and the five Tees Valley Council local authority signed The Filming Friendly Charter signed late last year to boost the TV and film industry by making it even easier to shoot projects in the region.
Lisa Laws, Head of Talent and Business and Development at North East Screen, said: “We are delighted for the companies receiving this fund – an amazing outcome for them and for TV production in the North East. We have worked closely with each of the companies so understand how this support will help to drive forward their businesses. The companies selected are a good mix of businesses relocating to the region and home-grown talent.”
She added: “This is a fantastic year for production companies in the North East and the start of great things to come. The region is full of talented creative businesses with an abundance of ideas, skills, and incredible determination. The tide is beginning to turn with support for the screen industry in the North East and funds such as this from the BBC will help to supercharge creative business development, making us a region to look out for nationally and globally.”
Cllr Shane Moore, Combined Authority Cabinet Lead for Culture and Tourism and Leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “This year is already promising to be a great one for Hartlepool and I’m very pleased the BBC has bolstered a great company in the town with this fresh funding.
“We have the local expertise in organisations such as Hartlepool’s Northern Studios and a wealth of creative minds in our town to make our cultural vision a reality.
“By working together with the BBC, North East Screen and filmmakers, we have a lot to offer here in the Tees Valley and the sky is the limit for what we can achieve.”