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Northern Film + Media are excited to announce their breakthrough partnership with the North East LEP. NFM’s North East Comedy Hot House project has been granted funds to develop the region’s comedy sector through their SIZZLE programme

What is SIZZLE?

The SIZZLE programme will foster three phases of development over the next six months. It offers participants a unique opportunity to be part of a new regional cluster of SMEs and freelancers, all working together to boost the region’s broadcast comedy sector.

Phase 1 of SIZZLE will connect ambitious individuals in the region, both those working in the comedy sector and those creating comedy content for digital platforms, to each other and to the industry experts. The industry experts can help the participants to scale their businesses up, show them the value of digital platforms, support them to develop market-ready pitches, and provide them access to commissioner briefs.

Who is it for?

NFM’s North East Comedy Hot House (NECHH) are looking for individuals keen to play their part in driving forward the region’s production of quality comedy content across digital platforms. Participants must be business owners or have a leadership role in a company that employs staff or freelancers. They must currently work in the broadcast, digital, and/or comedy sector, or if not, must prove a keen interest in branching into these sectors. A passion for comedy is important. They must also be based in the North East LEP area, which covers County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside, and Sunderland.

What’s on offer?

Phase 1 of SIZZLE runs from January 6th to March 31st 2021. This first package of support provides eleven company leaders with 18 hours (approx. 6-8 sessions) of tailored support through the LEP’s Peer to Peer network, designed to build knowledge, skills, and regional and national connections (insights from leading broadcast consultants, indies, and commissioners). The support also includes promotion and networking opportunities from NFM’s NECHH with participants joining their ‘2021 SIZZLE Network’. There will also be opportunities to develop market-ready pitches and sizzle tapes.

What is the North East Comedy Hot House?

A project by Northern Film + Media, the North East Comedy Hot House is a first-of-its-kind comedy co-op cultivating regional talent, both on and off-screen. They uncover and support this talent, build creative businesses, and connect people, places, and projects to the best opportunities for their growth. The project hopes to foster an explosion of Northern comedy voices onto international platforms.

The NECHH began in 2019 after an amazing commission from Channel 4 to co-produce and deliver 24 digital comedy shorts alongside regional production companies. These sketches have been released across Channel 4’s social media platforms over the past year, amassing a whopping total of over 7 million views. One of the sketches, ‘We’re Gannin’ Oot, Oot!’, co-produced with Roundhouse Pictures, won the award for Comedy and Entertainment at the 2020 Royal Television Society - North East and Borders awards. The NECHH is currently shortlisted for FOCUS Digital’s Makers and Shakers ‘Initiative to Grow Local Industry’ award.

How to get involved in SIZZLE

Between November 23rd and December 3rd 2020, NFM’s NECHH is offering slots to sign up for a virtual coffee and a chat to find out more about SIZZLE and discuss what your business needs in order for you to achieve your ambitions. You can sign up for these slots here.

From there the scheme will open to expressions of interest. The eleven participants - the 2021 SIZZLE Network - will be announced before Christmas.

Project Manager of the North East Comedy Hot House, Lisa Laws, said: ‘It’s very exciting for NECHH to be supported by the North East LEP and to be part of their strategy for maximizing growth and investment in the region’s digital sector. This is a great boost to the North East’s screen industries; it opens up new opportunities for SMEs in the comedy and digital industries to work together to make our region stronger’.

Acting Managing Director of Northern Film + Media, Alison Gwynn, added: ‘A lot of the work that NFM and NECHH have previously done has been with creatives. What we’re doing with the SIZZLE scheme is different – it’s about developing business leaders to grow their businesses, who will then work with creative talent. We’re also thrilled to be partnering with the North East LEP; it’s fantastic to see our efforts to support the region’s screen industries recognised at this level. In this region, the sector faces many barriers to market, and we’re hopeful that this project with the LEP helps businesses to overcome those’.

Kate Buckle
Article by Kate Buckle
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