Training project promises bright future for Newport communities and film industry, according to ‘The Pact’ actor Alexandria Riley

Actor Alexandria Riley sits on a panel with 2 others during the Foot In The Door final event

Actor Alexandria Riley at Foot In The Door Newport final event

Biggest ever film and TV training project has given a Foot in the Door to hundreds in Newport on the back of an exceptional year for the Welsh film industry

A Ffilm Cymru programme which has brought hundreds of training opportunities and jobs to Newport can turn the city’s “raw talent” into sustainable economic opportunities for the city’s communities, according to actor and “Newport girl”, Alexandria Riley.

Since spring this year, Foot In The Door has seen Ffilm Cymru work with over 800 people in Newport communities to demystify careers in film and TV, develop skills and offer opportunities for people with transferable skills to move into the screen sector.

After a ground-breaking year for the Welsh film industry, with blockbuster productions like Sex Education, Willow, and His Dark Materials 3 generating over £155 million spend into the Welsh economy since 2020 (1), the Foot in The Door programme has secured employment positions for trainees across five Wales-based productions for producers including Netflix and Disney+, including paid roles in hair and make-up, rigging, locations and production departments.

Now, the Newport actor who’s starred in The Pembrokeshire Murders, The Pact, Galwad and The End of the F***ing World said: “As soon as anything comes up involving Newport and the film industry, I’m instantly on board. As a Newport girl, I’m so aware of the raw talent within the city, and I’m so excited to see that Foot in The Door has been able to bring these opportunities to Newport and show the community that they’re accessible to anyone and everyone.”

Alexandria has worked with Ffilm Cymru industry partner and youth arts and advocacy charity Urban Circle, an organisation she’s had connections with since its establishment, on their up-and-coming show, Urban School of Arts.

“I’ll take any opportunity to give back to the Newport community,” she said, “I still love community work and the buzz I get from working with these talented people is my favourite thing to do.”

Kevin Hayward is one such success story. The 54-year-old from Newport city centre is a former engineer who has switched to the film sector thanks to the project.

Kevin had always wanted to work in film since he was young but didn’t know where to start. After discovering Foot In The Door through DWP’s Restart scheme, Kevin completed the appropriate training with Foot In The Door and Screen Alliance Wales before beginning a placement as an AutoCAD draughter with Caldicot rigging and stunt work company, Extreme Rigging.

Talking of his experience, Kevin said: “It felt like the perfect fit – as an older man with a career in a completely different industry, I wasn’t confident I would ever be able to get myself into the industry and around the right people, and I was worried I might’ve missed the boat, but Foot In The Door proved to me that it’s never to late to make the jump.

“Foot In The Door enabled me to apply my knowledge from my career in software engineering to an industry I had always dreamed of being in.”

Foot In The Door partners Urban Circle, Newport Council, Screen Alliance Wales, Sgil Cymru, Cult Cymru/BECTU, University of South Wales, Pobl Housing and Coleg Gwent have delivered 65 different events over the course of the year, a community which leaves Newport well placed for the future according to Faye Hannah, Head of Skills and Training at Ffilm Cymru.

She said: “The Welsh film and TV sector is a priority sector for the Welsh economy and access to the industry should be open to all.  We knew Newport would be the perfect place to open aspirations to working within the film and TV sector, and what the city’s communities have given back this year has been exceptional.

“This is a city that crackles with creativity and is alive with ambition. What Foot in the Door has been able to do is to give a pathway to people- perhaps formerly hairdressers, caterers or carpenters – to bring their skills to a sector that badly needs them, while giving support for costs like childcare and travel.

“Ffilm Cymru is committed to continuing to work within the community. This is only the beginning for Newport.  We’d now love to see how this model can extend and offer similar opportunities to other locations across Wales.”

Councillor Jane Mudd, leader of Newport City Council, said: “Foot in the Door has been brilliant for Newport. The development of the creative industries is very important to us and right at the start of this project we knew there would be an abundance of local natural talent that would benefit from the project.

“To see the number of people that Ffilm Cymru has worked with and the incredible opportunities that that have been offered to them is amazing. I wish every participant luck as they develop their careers in the sector.

“Our thanks go to everyone involved in the project – we have been honoured to be part of the project and very much look forward to delivering more successful partnership projects in the future.”