XpoNorth Digital and UHI Launch FutureCreative Programme

The FutureCreative programme is a transformative collaboration between XpoNorth Digital and the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI)- custom designed to connect creative, heritage and digital students with professional networks and opportunities.

The project will build on the work already achieved through the award-winning LevelUp partnership, and feature an increased level of strategic and development support built to impact skills and better prepare students for a career in the sector. It will see XpoNorth Digital deliver a bespoke suite of workshops, 1-2-1 advice and specialist mentorship, custom designed to support students to integrate more fully into the creative industries, explore new ideas, develop relationships and build professional futures. The programme will be available to all students studying a creative or heritage course at UHI.

As part of this exciting new partnership, students will also be able to participate in a very special training and mentorship programme, custom designed and delivered by leading Hollywood Executive Producer Jason Lust.

Alex Smith, XpoNorth Digital Programme Manager said: “Following the success of our previous LevelUp partnership, we’re delighted to be further extending our relationship with UHI through the launch of the new FutureCreative programme. With a distinct focus on supporting students to better explore the diversity of pathways into the sector, this exciting development will see increased access to the XpoNorth Digital support framework alongside specialist workshops, mentorship and network building opportunities. We’re also incredibly pleased to have worked with Jason Lust on what we’re sure will be a transformational opportunity for the students to connect with high-level opportunities on an international scale."

Jason Lust said: “From my first trip to XpoNorth several years ago, I learned that there is a magical formula of people and places across the Highlands and Islands. I immediately signed up for the following year in hope of developing a stronger relationship with the region, but sadly that was thwarted by Covid. Truth be told, I have been overtaken by the possibilities of working with the University of the Highlands and Islands and XpoNorth Digital on many different levels regarding creating content. So much so that I courted one of Scotland's great animation companies to work with, Axis Studios, with the aim of beginning a working relationship with them. We have now worked on multiple projects together with successful results.

The point here is that with some ingenuity and hard work, I believe that one doesn't have to live and exist only in Hollywood to make great movies. I have spent the better part of my career finding ways to infiltrate the Hollywood system and make great movies. The Highlands and Islands has tremendous creative forces to offer the film and tv world at large and I intend to help that cause as much as I can. The region and its culture has such a distinctive international profile and I believe this project will bring meaningful high-level opportunities for students studying at UHI."

Peter Honeyman, UHIs Subject Network Leader for Creative and Cultural Industries, said: "The FutureCreative programme is an amazing opportunity for creative industries students throughout UHI. Having access to this range of industry speakers gives students real insights into the range of employment and self-employment options open to them after graduation. It also introduces them to a valuable network of contacts and helps them to gain a deep understanding of the sector into which they are hoping to progress. We are very grateful to have this support from HIE and XpoNorth. UHI’s potential involvement with Hollywood producer Jason Lust is an example of the high-level and global reach of this programme, partly enabled through UHI’s pioneering work with video-conferencing and remote technology."

Dr Jen Vanderhoven, Vice-Principal Engagement of UHI, added: "The diversity of our locations and flexible approach to learning is what makes this programme so exciting. The mix of in-person and online activity allows for a shared experience which could also lead to future collaborative projects in several local areas. We are all looking forward to the programme beginning."

About Jason Lust

Executive producer, Jason Lust, was one of the original founders of prolific management and production company Circle of Confusion, which was responsible for The Matrix Trilogy as well as The Walking Dead. He later joined The Jim Henson Company where he ran the production division for film, producing films such as Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and developing new works for legacy projects such as The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth.

Jason partnered with The LEGO Movie producer Animal Logic Entertainment where he was responsible for contracting over $1 billion dollars’ worth of pipeline business, and setting up approximately fifteen features including conceiving and producing Peter Rabbit (Sony). This film became the second highest grossing feature in the UK for Sony, only behind James Bond, grossing $350M worldwide. Jason also conceived and developed The Shrinking Of The Treehorns with Ron Howard directing (Netflix). Most recently, Jason is a producer on Guillermo del Torro’s Pinocchio (Netflix). As well as his plans for the forthcoming work with UHI and HIE/XpoNorth, he is developing multiple projects throughout the UK including a joint venture with Altitude Films and another with Scottish animation company Axis Studios.

Jason has recently also partnered with JJ Abrams company on an animated project with Warner Brothers and sold a major feature IP to Columbia where he made Peter Rabbit. In addition he's developing a Christmas movie with Steph Curry's company Unanimous and a vampire movie based on a classic Japanese manga Hellsing with the writer of John Wick, both projects are with Amazon Studios.

The FutureCreative programme will be made available to all students studying a creative, digital or heritage related course at UHI.


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