StoryFutures Academy, the UK’s National Centre for Immersive Storytelling, gives development finance and creative training in immersive story form to traditional screen industry talents, and fosters co-productions.
StoryFutures Academy delivers cutting-edge creative training and research programmes in immersive storytelling to ensure the UK creative workforce is the most skilled in the world in the use of immersive technologies. As well as experimental labs, workshops, placements and courses, the centre supports and co-funds dozens of real immersive productions with a focus on storytelling.
The centre, which officially opened in late 2018, is led by the National Film & Television School (NFTS) and Royal Holloway, University of London and is supported by world-leading creative organisations including: BFI, Punchdrunk, the BBC, Rewind VR, ILMxLab and Passion Pictures.
By providing paid support for professional level training, the National Centre builds a virtuous circle of innovation, including hands-on learning on live projects which enable risk-taking and cross-sector collaboration. It banks the time of these professionals in commitments to ‘time back’ to teach future cohorts of learners, building a deep reservoir of insights that can service a talent pipeline for years to come.
Science and Innovation Minister Sam Gyimah said at the Centre’s launch: “From Harry Potter to Downton Abbey, Damien Hirst to Grand Theft Auto, the UK has the most incredible storytellers bringing their art to life for the entire world to enjoy. Immersive technology, such as virtual reality, can transform our traditional creative industries into something even more awe-inspiring for audiences, giving them the feeling of really being there. The new National Centre for Immersive Storytelling takes us a step closer to reaching our ambition within the Creative Industries Sector Deal to boost the UK’s place as a world leader in this kind of content by 2025.”
Film, television and theatre directors and producers
Gaming designers and technicians
Writers and performers for film, TV, games and theatre
StoryFutures Academy has enjoyed meaningful success since its inception in 2018. Over the last year, the academy has trained over 400 screen industries professionals – double its original goal – and 872 unique beneficiaries have taken part in its programmes. As a national centre, it reflects the UK’s diversity in all aspects, with over 59% of participants identifying as female and 27% Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic backgrounds.
It has unlocked almost £2million in leverage funding from partners across the UK’s creative sectors, and has created or saved 135 jobs. The Centre’s R&D fuelled innovation and training schemes have proven that there is a demonstrable appetite for innovation in the sectors it has been able to support, enabling stakeholders to take risks that they could not have taken alone.
Despite unforeseen delays due to COVID-19, £459,300 of funding has flowed since safety measures were introduced in March 2020. This has unlocked over £500,000 in partnership co-funding and staff time.
2020-21 promises to be a fruitful year for the Centre, culminating in a national showcase of the best immersive work supported by not only StoryFutures Academy but also those of the Audiences of the Future and Creative Industries Cluster Programme. By the end of the final year, StoryFutures Academy expects to have reached well over 1,500 beneficiaries, secured over £3m of co-investment in immersive innovation and supported over 200 jobs.
Pull out quote Ben Roberts, CEO at BFI:
“What I’ve seen from my involvement with StoryFutures Academy is the array of potential applications for technology not just in the film industry but working in collaboration with other sectors such as health – talking about that kind of cross-sector approach – mental health and wellbeing have always been powerfully linked to arts and storytelling”
Content – VR, Content – AR, Content – MR, Content – XR, Content – Soundscape, audio, music, Content – theatre, film & video, Content – 360 degree video, Content – special effects, Content – animation & graphics, Tech – VR/AR headsets, Tech – controllers,
Education, Arts, entertainment and recreation