Industry briefings: April 2024

Posted on Mar 28, 2024 by Samara Husbands

Find honours, awards, bursaries and more in this month’s industry news round-up

Boutique post-production facility launches in Glasgow  

Officially launched at the Berlinale, Brick and Mortar is a new post-production facility located at Trinity House, Glasgow.

Focusing on offline editorial, 4K HDR colour grading and picture finishing services, the company deploys Baselight colour grading systems and boasts Scotland’s first and only DCI-compliant auditorium.

The team – led by senior colourist Tom Cairns (formerly of Molinare, Twickenham Film Studios and Dirty Looks) – have been hard at work, having already completed a raft of high-end commercials as well as their first five feature films, including Leonora in the Morning Light and Spilt Milk.

Facilities include state-of-the-art offline suites as well as two advanced Baselight grading theatres, high-end remote review facilities and advanced media storage and management solutions.

“We’re excited and honoured to introduce Brick and Mortar to the market in what is shaping up to be a propulsive year for feature film production in Scotland,” commented co-founder and editor Jack Lang. “We’re starting out with a truly great team driving some exciting new suites and technology. With the only projector-based grading theatre in the country, we’re looking to attract top filmmakers to cut, grade and mix their films in Scotland with ourselves and the sound expertise available through Savalas’ audio department.” 

“Celluloid is alive and kicking”

When Oppenheimer DOP Hoyte Van Hoytema ASC FSF NSC (pictured) took to the podium to collect his BAFTA for best cinematography, he used the opportunity to profess his love of celluloid, urging that the format is most definitely ‘alive and kicking’. “Four out of five nominated films were shot on celluloid, and it proves that film is resilient and wanted more by audiences than ever,” he continued.

Oppenheimer is the latest collaboration between Van Hoytema and (famous analogue lover) Christopher Nolan, following Interstellar (2014), Dunkirk (2017) and Tenet (2020).

The film was shot in IMAX (15-perf) format using KODAK 65mm large format film, and included, for the first time, sections shot in 65mm b&w using IMAX, adding a unique visual dimension.

ASC honours Spike Lee 

Renowned filmmaker Spike Lee was celebrated at the 38th ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards Gala in March, where he received the Board of Governors award from the American Society of Cinematographers. ASC president Shelly Johnson commended Lee’s notable impact, describing him as ‘one of the most brilliant filmmakers of our time’.

The award recognises Lee’s contributions to cinema and respect for director/DOP partnership.

A multi-hyphenate creative with credits as a director, writer, actor, producer and author, Lee has directed and produced over 30 films, including the Oscar-winning BlacKkKlansman.

His legacy also extends to education: he serves as a tenured professor at NYU and started the Spike Lee Film Production Fund, supporting students in the NYU Tisch Graduate Film Program. This award adds Lee’s name to an esteemed list of recipients including Viola Davis, Sofia Coppola and Steven Spielberg.

Spring Budget gives boost to UK film & TV production 

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee met recently to continue its inquiry into Britain’s independent film and TV production, considering how best to bolster the industry and secure its future.

James Hawes, director of One Life starring Anthony Hopkins, and producer Rebecca O’Brien – who recently worked with Ken Loach on The Old Oak – fielded questions around the impact of AI and the strikes, difficulties around raising finance and how the UK government can best support future generations of indie filmmakers. 

As a result, Dame Caroline Dinenage MP wrote to the chancellor to urge him to use the Spring Budget to support Britain’s independent domestic film industry, a call which was answered with a series of landmark measures.

These include the audio-visual expenditure credit (AVEC), a 53% expenditure credit (equating to a tax relief of approximately 40%) for UK film productions with a budget up to £15m. Support also comes with the new Visual Effects Tax Relief, which removes the 80% cap on qualifying expenditure for visual effects costs in the audio-visual expenditure credits.

Additionally, business rates relief for film studios mean that eligible facilities in England will benefit from a 40% relief on business rates (applicable for ten years, starting April 2024). 

Royal Television Society launches 2024 bursary schemes

Celebrating their tenth year in 2024, RTS’s esteemed bursary schemes are now open for applications.

TV presenter AJ Odudu is the official ambassador for the initiative, a role which will see her mentoring the scholars and attending events, as well as using her platform to highlight the importance of the schemes.

To increase diversity and inclusivity in the TV industry, the bursaries are awarded to students from lower-income backgrounds studying an undergraduate degree or HND level 5 or 6.

Key schemes include the digital innovation bursary – which addresses skills gaps in the industry through recruiting scholars in subjects such as VFX, IT systems, engineering, cybersecurity and virtual reality, and the television production and journalism bursary, which recruits scholars with an interest in TV production, journalism, animation, costume and set design.

The schemes attract support in the form of donations and industry engagement through mentoring, networking and work experience, and are made possible with financial backing from STV, Apple TV+, All3Media, Steve Hewlett Fund, Hartswood Films, ITV Daytime and other benefactors.

Applications close on 24 June. 

Visual Effects Society announces 22nd annual VES award winners

Recognising outstanding achievements in visual effects across a variety of mediums, the 22nd annual Visual Effects Society (VES) Awards returned in February to showcase the creativity and technical prowess of VFX artists working across film, animation, television, commercials, video games and special venues. 

Across the 25 categories, big winners included The Creator, which was named the photoreal feature winner with five awards, and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, which was named top animated film, scooping four awards.

The Last of Us was named best photoreal episode, winning four awards, while Coca-Cola topped the commercial field. In the emerging technology award category, The Flash was awarded with a nod for its innovative use of volumetric capture. 

Nikon acquires RED Digital Cinema

On 7 March, Nikon announced a 100% acquisition of RED Digital Cinema, the US manufacturer of popular cine cameras such as the RED V-RAPTOR X and ONE 4K.

The move signals Nikon’s expansion into the professional digital cinema camera market, with RED machines used on huge productions like Annihilation, Stranger Things and Jurassic World.

After 17 years of crafting award-winning cameras, founder Jim Jannard and president Jarred Land closed the deal with Nikon.

Not only have REDs seen use on Oscar-winning films, but the company itself received a Scientific and Technical Academy Award for its industry contributions.

“Nikon’s expertise in product development, exceptional reliability and know-how in image processing, optics and user interface – along with RED’s knowledge in cine cameras, including unique image compression technology and colour science – will enable the development of distinctive products in the pro digital cinema camera market,” said Nikon.

This fresh news coincides with its announcement of a corporate reshuffle, with several changes in its executive appointments.

CrewHQ Trainee Programme unveiled

In a bid to foster emerging talent in the film and TV production industry, Warner Bros Studios Leavesden has launched the CrewHQ Trainee Programme.

Situated at the hub of major UK productions such as The Batman, Barbie and Wonka, this initiative offers exclusive behind-the-scenes access to Warner Bros Discovery projects, creating a direct pathway for aspiring professionals. 

Trainees will benefit from guidance by seasoned industry professionals, paid placements and networking opportunities.

These will cover areas such as set etiquette, production paperwork and terminology, advice on freelancing and an exploration of entry-level roles and potential career pathways. Interviews and assessments will take place over April and May.

Spider-Man sweeps 51st Annie Awards

Sony Pictures Animation’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse swung its way to glory at the 51st Annie Awards, dominating in seven categories including best feature.

The impressive animated film was also victorious in categories for best FX, character design, direction, music, production design and editorial.

Not to be outdone, Blue Eye Samurai snagged six Annies for best TV/media episode – mature, FX, character animation, production design, writing and editorial. Other notable winners included Robot Dreams for best independent feature and Ghee Happy episode Navagraha for best animated TV/media – preschool.

The event featured presenters including Shameik Moore and animation luminaries Jorge R Gutierrez and Peter Ramsey.

The ceremony also honoured animation legends such as Studio Ghibli’s Joe Hisaishi and Disney Animation’s artists with awards.

This article appears in the April 2024 issue of Definition. Read the full magazine here

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