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A piece of the action

How Chief Superintendent Brownlow of `The Bill' is helping movie wannabes become film-makers of the future

A TRAINING project in east London is helping dozens of unemployed people get a foot in the door of the TV and film industry.

With a pound;500,000-a-year budget from the European Union and the London Development Agency, Four Corners in east London has so far helped 60 trainees to gain free training and paid work placements and break into TV and film.

The company, an established film and photography training centre, has been praised by film director Mike Leigh, who said: "Four Corners is special. It is one of few UK organisations genuinely concerned with grass-roots filmmaking."

Its Step Up project began last September, with trainees picking up Open College Network-accredited qualifications for operating cameras or editing equipment. Tutors range from Lucia Zucchetti, editor of Stephen Frears' Oscar winner The Queen, to Peter Ellis, the actor who plays Chief Superintendent Brownlow in The Bill.

After up to six months of training, they are helped into ten-week work placements. The project's budget allows trainees to earn a minimum wage.

Shelley Castle, work experience co-ordinator at Four Corners, said offering longer work placements allowed trainees to learn more and paying them helped attract applicants from a wide social background.

"Companies say it's often invaluable to have a point of view from people from different backgrounds," she said. About 75 per cent of trainees stayed on in their placements and several have gone on to sign contracts.

The company said the support from TV and film companies is one of its strengths: Channel 4 is backing the scheme and has urged all independent production companies it works with to take part.

Edwin Fosu, 34, from south London, is one of the first trainees and is working in a placement at Formosa Films. The company is producing a gangland thriller called Clubbed for release next year, and he is editing a behind-the-scenes film for the DVD.

After a business diploma at Hammersmith and West London College, Mr Fosu took a job as an administrator with a property company before quitting three years ago to pursue his dream of working in film. He said: "This is the real thing. I share a table with the producer and the director, and you can't get any closer than that."

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