Movie star backs campaign to create £2m media centre

SCOTLAND is in the frame for a new digital skills academy.

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And with the backing of Hollywood actor Lex Shrapnel, campaigners have launched a £2million fundraising campaign in Helensburgh.

The actor, who starred in the hit movie Captain America: The First Avenger and the recent BBC television series Hunted, has taken on the new role of official ambassador for the campaign to create the Heroes Centre.

The aim is to convert a derelict Victorian warehouse in George Street into a 21st century academy to teach businesses and students the digital skills of an online world.

Lex is the grandson of legendary Hollywood actress Deborah Kerr who, like television inventor John Logie Baird, was born in Helensburgh.

He said: "There is no doubt that the television, film and the digital industries are moving ever closer together and it's vital that we provide facilities such as the Heroes Centre to help equip people with the skills that will be needed for generations to come."

Helensburgh-born movie director Tom Vaughan is also supporting the venture which was launched by 49-year-old Phil Worms, who has spent half his life working in the IT industry.

Mr Worms said: "As the convergence of internet and TV technologies gathers pace, it's widely recognised that we need a new generation of digital content creators and yet a major issue facing Scotland is the dramatic decline in the numbers of young people taking IT related subjects in further education.

He's locked in talks with potential sponsors and other organisations in an attempt to meet the £2m target and hopes to secure substantial grants from varies bodies including the Scottish Government.

He wants his academy up and running before Glasgow hosts the Commonwealth Games in July and August next year and is also being backed by the city's MSP and Scotland's minister for External Affairs and International Development, Humza Yousaf.

Mr Yousaf said: "A skills academy in Helensburgh would give the next generation of Scots a creative environment to acquire new media skills and expertise. It is particularly relevant that this centre would be in Helensburgh, the birth place of John Logie Baird."

Mr Worms told the Evening Times that the academy would deliver "short, sharp production courses for businesses and individuals" who would learn the basic skills in a matter of days rather than undergo a six-month course.

He said the applications would be varied from a businessman keen to produce company-related videos to a musician wanting to upload a promotional video of his hand on YouTube.

And that's got the support of Polly Purvis, the executive director of ScotlandIS, the country's software, IT and creative technology industry body.

She said: "Video is the fastest growing element of social media and is increasingly being adopted in business and education for its high-impact communication capability.

"While some exceptional video is being created on a wide range of mobile phones and cameras, there is increasing demand for the high quality production skills the centre will produce."

The proposed facility will also include two hi-tech auditoriums which will showcase digital film and entertainment as well as a 50s-themed diner which will be open to local residents.

gordon.thomson@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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Arts and Entertainment

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