Edge Hill University and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority have teamed up with Hollywood director and producer, a digital filmmaking guru Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Hardcore Henry, Searching) to launch the first accelerator program for aspiring filmmakers and digital content creators in the innovative storytelling format Screenlife.

The program will be free to Liverpool creatives starting 11th January 2021. 

Training for the 12-week course will include weekly webinars hosted by key creatives from Bekmambetov’s production banners in Hollywood, Europe, and Russia. It will be hosted by the Institute for Creative Enterprise (ICE) at Edge Hill University. 

The course is part of the Digital Skills for the Workplace programme, developed locally by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, working with local employers and funded by the Department for Education. 

Director of the Institute for Creative Enterprise at Edge Hill University, Martin McQuillan, said, “Screenlife technology and principles enable filmmakers to carry on creating and innovating during a worldwide crisis. It is very exciting to be working with Screenlife UK and Timur Bekmambetov to realise a training programme that will unleash the creative talent of a great European city and give many the opportunity to access the film industry.” 

The Screenlife format was invented by Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov in response to the proliferation of modern screen technologies and mobile devices in our everyday lives. In a Screenlife film, viewers see the action play out from the POV of the computers, tablets and smartphones used by the characters. The Screenlife format made a massive breakthrough in 2015, when Bekmambetov debuted in the genre and teen horror movie Unfriended was released, grossing $65 million worldwide with a budget of $1 million, spawning a sequel three years later. He followed that up with the 2018 John Cho-led thriller Searching, grossing more than $75 million worldwide. This summer, Universal and Bekmambetov inked a partnership deal to produce five Screenlife features in various genres. 

The Liverpool Screenlife Accelerator aims to mash up the principles of a tech start-up and traditional film production in an effort to disrupt the way indie films are made, monetised, and distributed. Rather than following the typical movie-making cycle, the accelerator programme requires applicants to start with a short proof of concept, akin to the tech world’s minimum viable product, and goes on to upskill interactive storytelling and the technological software proficiency instrumental for Screenlife filmmaking. 

Screenlife format inventor Bekmambetov says, “Our aim is to introduce filmmakers to new technologies that create digital stories and make the film industry more accessible to those who wouldn’t normally have access. There is no doubt that Liverpool has exceptional creative talents and I am excited to open the doors and develop these opportunities here.” 

Screenlife UK Lead Joann Kushner is very excited to get this programme up and running and looks forward to bringing the creatives of the city region together. “Our aim is to diversify the industry, create a talent pipeline for the Liverpool city region film scene and become a major hub for media and digital production within the City. Liverpool is bursting at the seams with talent, I couldn’t be more excited to get started in shaping successful careers for our candidates. I truly hope we are able to offer a path for those that wouldn’t normally have access to this incredible standard of training at such a difficult time,” she says.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “The Liverpool City Region is a centre of creative talent and increasingly an international destination of choice for film producers, with world-class facilities. This course is a really exciting opportunity for people to get into the film-making world. 

“The creative and digital sector is a real powerhouse and will play a key role in our city region’s economic recovery after COVID. That’s why we’re investing in the facilities to deliver film and tv productions here and equipping people with the skills to deliver them. 

“As well as this important course, over the last year alone we’ve announced £20m investment in the film and TV sector and we are day by day realising the dream of delivering a Hollywood of the north in the Liverpool City Region.” 

The programme is open to filmmakers aged 19 and over who either live or work in the Liverpool City Region. The 12-week course will result in a selection 

of proofs of concept that Bazelevs Studios and Screenlife Liverpool may option for development and be make for commercial production. 

For more information on the Accelerator Programme and media enquiries please contact: Joann Kushner – email: joann@screenlifeliverpool.com t. 07973301729 

Registering your interest 

If you’re interested in registering for this programme, please follow the three simple steps below (please note, you must complete all steps to be considered for the programme): 

1. Click the following link to be taken to the online application form: https://www.liverpoolcityregion-ca.gov.uk/individual-applicants/ 

2. When answering the question, “please provide us with some information on why you’d like to apply for this programme”, you must state somewhere in your answer “Edge Hill Screenlife”, so that we can easily identify which course you are interested in 3. Send an updated CV to ICE@edgehill.ac.uk 

Application deadline: 12 noon on Friday 8th January 2021.