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Groundbreaking programme launches to inspire the creativity of the future

Published: 11/10/2022

Hollywood producer Jason Lust has joined forces with Highlands and Islands Enterprise’s (HIE) XpoNorth Digital programme and UHI to deliver an exciting new initiative for creatives.

Launched today (October 11), FutureCreative is a transformative new collaboration custom designed to directly 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, which will allow 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.

In addition to the broader FutureCreative programme, leading Hollywood Executive Producer, Jason Lust, will work with XpoNorth Digital and UHI to deliver a specially curated mentorship and talent development strand, custom designed to support students to access high-level national and international opportunities earlier in their career and development journey.

Jason is 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. Most recently, he is a producer on Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (Netflix). He 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. 

Iain Hamilton, head of creative industries at HIE, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for UHI students who are studying creative industry subjects across the Highlands and Islands. The programme will enable them to explore work experience and networking opportunities, increase their knowledge of the sector and encourage them to remain in the Highlands and Islands. To have someone with such high calibre as Jason Lust take part in this valuable partnership with UHI and XpoNorth is exciting. It will give the students an in-depth insight into the creative industries worlds and could also open up so many new avenues to the students. 

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.”

As well as his plans for the forthcoming work with UHI and Highlands and Islands Enterprise/XpoNorth Digital, Jason is developing multiple projects throughout the UK including a joint venture with Altitude Films and another with Scottish animation company Axis Studios.

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, UHI’s 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.”

Jason Lust is also currently 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 initiative is deep rooted in UHI’s commitment to supporting communities to flourish. 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.”

For more information on FutureCreative please visit https://www.xponorth.co.uk.