£1 million short film funding pledge

Financier-turned-philanthropist aims to support diversity and inclusion.

by Amber Wilkinson

Professor Stefan Allesch-Taylor
Professor Stefan Allesch-Taylor
UK-based philanthropist Professor Stefan Allesch-Taylor CBE has announced he is committing £1 million to short films with the aim of supporting diversity and inclusion in the UK film industry, and promoting upcoming talent from across the country.

Allesch-Taylor started out in stockbroking and forged a career as a serial entrepreneur, becoming involved in filmmaking in 2009, when a friend suggested he executive produce Africa United. Since 2010, he has executive produced 15 shorts, including Flyspy, Bricks and Ghosted.

Allesch-Taylor said: "It’s about promoting diversity and inclusion in the UK film industry at this critical time. It’s about producing short films which showcase best in class talent. The UK is proudly multi-cultural and if there’s any doubt about that remember there are over 300 languages spoken in this country.

"I don’t think the news cycle has ever been more daunting than it is now - much of which is being driven by what divides us. Supporting diversity and inclusion in all walks of British life has never been more important. The film industry has been in the spotlight recently and frankly it’s clear to everyone it needs a serious and meaningful shake up. Promoting diversity and inclusion has to be a key part of that."

Filmmakers wishing to express an interest in a grant, should write to Charles Kay at charles@satprivateoffice.com, including the "Short Films Professor Stefan Allesch-Taylor CBE" in the subject line.

Allesch-Taylor added: "Helping filmmakers get their first break, or to be able to take the next step in their careers, is really rewarding and by focusing on short films the filmmakers and talent are under real pressure to make an impression in a structured and professional way. We have no preconceived ideas of the type of short films we’ll back and I think that’s what makes it interesting for my team. It’s a continuation of what we’re already doing. I want to get the message out there now to go beyond the borders of my immediate network and open up the opportunity to all UK talent. I’m interested in a completely transparent approach to promoting talent on its own merit alone. These grants will ensure the integrity of that process.

"I am a profound believer in using entrepreneurship to tackle serious issues around what I call ‘opportunity poverty’ – the inability of people to access the tools they need or the people they need to fulfil their potential. We’ve had real success with this over the years in a variety of sectors in the U.K. and Sub-Sahara Africa in projects that you wouldn’t necessarily feel would benefit from a business approach valuing social impact and profit equally.

"Whilst these grants are based on merit only I also want to explore creating a financial model that may be able to bring some form of sustainability to this part of the film making market that’s so important for emerging film makers and unexplored talent. It’s simply too hard right now for these filmmakers to get access to capital and the desire for content for the numerous platforms out there isn’t likely to diminish any time soon."

Appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2014 for his services to philanthropic and charitable services in the United Kingdom and Africa and being a longtime champion of diversity, Allesch-Taylor says helping emerging filmmakers is part of creating a more inclusive society.

He said: "I don’t care what background you have, if you are in the film industry in this country [UK] then we all need to be thinking about the issues of diversity and inclusion in a genuine and positive way right now."

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