The North East could provide the backdrop for more TV series and films thanks to ambitious plans from the region’s biggest casting agent.
NE1 4.TV has thousands of actors, supporting artistes, models and dancers on its books, and supplies talent for hit shows and films shot around the North East including Vera, I, Daniel Blake, and CBBC hit The Dumping Ground.
Now the Byker agency has created its own Ticbox qualification for supporting artistes, also known as extras, giving a huge incentive to production companies to film in the North East.
Bessie Williams, owner of NE1 4.TV and creator of Ticbox – Television Industry Courses For All –believes having accredited supporting artistes will help to boost the region’s prospects and employment.
She said: “We are the first people to launch anything like this, and I think in a few years it will be the industry standard. The North East is leading the way once again!
“If we can make the people that matter aware of our talent it makes it more appealing for production companies to come here and use actors from the area, as well as some of our incredible locations.”
She added: “We have to fight more to get things filmed in the North East and having accreditation for supporting artistes is going to help massively.
“Most cities are home to soaps or big series, but we have one or two shows and that’s it. I feel like we have so much talent to offer but it is not being made the most of.”
NE1 4.TV currently runs its Ticbox courses through Sunderland College, Gateshead College and Newcastle College, some of which are funded, others are paid for by the individuals taking part.
So far more than 90 people have achieved a Ticbox accreditation, and Bessie has dreams of making the qualification free and available for everyone.
She added: “We want to get the accreditation accessible for anyone who wants it, so the industry can become more professional.
“The dream is to open up our own training centre, so we can access funding, and anyone can complete the course for free.
“The region is bidding for Channel 4 to open one of three hubs in the North East, and we need to get momentum so people like Channel 4 can see what we have going on here.”
The Ticbox courses are already proving to be a big success, with many of those taking part gaining employment as a result of the accreditation.
Jim Forster, 58, from Westerhope, is one of the supporting artistes on NE1’s books, and has achieved his Ticbox qualification through the agency.
Jim, who has appeared in both Netflix hit Frontier and popular ITV crime drama Vera, said: “The course was absolutely life-changing for me. I went away with so much confidence from it.
“Now, instead of just going in the background I’ve got no problem facing the camera and saying some lines. It’s completely changed my attitude and led to me getting more work. Hopefully this is the start of something big for the region.”
The Ticbox courses are part of an ongoing campaign from NE1 4.TV to bring more TV production companies and channels to the North East.
The agency was also recently involved with organising a ‘human 4’ for the NewcastleGateshead Initiative bid to bring the Channel 4 hub to the North East.
It saw over 100 people from NE1 4.TV’s books come together on the Gateshead Quayside to form the iconic ‘4’ holding balloons to create the colourful logo.
To find out more about NE14.TV and their Ticbox courses, head to NE14.TV.com. You can find them on social media at @NE14.TV.