The FEDS experience

Posted on December 12, 2019 by Chris Kumar, Delphine Lievens, Rico Johnson-Sinclair

Categories: General, Pop-up and Event Cinema

FEDS is our ground-breaking scheme designed to give newcomers to the film industry the ultimate head-start. We spoke to some of our alumni – Chris Kumar (2018), Rico Johnson-Sinclair (2017) and Delphine Lievens (2015) about their highlights from the traineeship and what they are currently up to in the sector. Back for its fifth edition, you can apply to FEDS 2020 until Monday 6 January 2020.

Chris Kumar

Chris Kumar

16 January 2018. This was the first day that I walked into the Glasgow Film Theatre, ready to begin my FEDS journey. At that point I had no idea what to expect and I certainly wasn’t sure where I would be nearly two years later. However, I am proud to say that since then I have worked incredibly hard and with the support of the BEST organisation, I have grown so much as a person and actively look forward to going to work in the morning.

Upon completion of the FEDS scheme, I was offered the role of Programme Coordinator on the Glasgow Film Festival (GFF) team for 2019 and I have since resumed that role again for the 2020 festival.

Chris hosting a Q&A

There have been so many highlights during my short time and in reality, it is tough to choose just one. This past year at GFF 2019, I loved hosting Q&As and being able to bridge the gap between filmmakers and audiences truly is an experience that you won’t get tired of. In that same vein, the feeling I get from seeing so many positive responses from the festival audience, whether it be in person or via social media, to a film that I have actively championed as part of the programme just makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside.

I love my job and thanks to the ICO and the FEDS scheme, I beam with pride when I tell people what I do for a living and I will be forever grateful for that.

Rico Johnson-Sinclair

Rico Johnson-Sinclair

The film industry has never been accessible, not to people like me. That’s why FEDS was such a great opportunity. I learned more about myself and my place amongst others in those nine months than I did during my time at University.

I was placed a Flatpack Film Festival, which became an invaluable resource for my toolkit on how to put together a festival. Looking at Flatpack’s history, where it had come from and where it was going, was pivotal to my success after FEDS. More than that, Flatpack allowed me to see just how thriving the Birmingham arts scene is, and also what it is lacking.

© Paul Stringer (

I’m now running my own queer film festival in Birmingham called CineQ that focuses on the queer experiences of Queer Trans and Intersex people of colour. CineQ also has its second festival in March 2020, which was funded due to a large number of young audiences (16-30) that came for its 2019 edition. I’ve also worked with a variety of other organisations and give talks on tokenism and programming for black and queer audiences in the industry and currently event manage all of the BFI’s Pride events in London, including London Pride, UK Black Pride, and London Trans Pride. I’m hoping to break CineQ into the immersive cinema scene by creating the first queer immersive cinema event in 2021. I’ve also just finished producing my first BFI NETWORK Funded short film.

Delphine Lievens

Delphine Lievens

I was part of the inaugural year of FEDS in 2015 as a trainee at Altitude – a film distributor, international sales and production company. I benefited hugely from being placed in a young company which grew rapidly whilst I was there. I was able to get stuck in with all areas of the business, picking up vital skills and knowledge along the way.

Thankfully, Altitude decided to offer me a permanent position once my traineeship ended, progressing to the role of Theatrical Sales Executive. If you’d asked me as a trainee, Theatrical Sales wouldn’t have been my first choice, but as I gained more experience within distribution I realised it was a great fit for me. In my four years with the company I worked on a wide variety of films, but I have a couple of personal highlights. We released AMY when I was still a trainee, which became one of the highest grossing documentaries ever at the UK box office. A couple of years later we released a little indie film called Moonlight, which went on to become the widest release I’d ever worked on. Being behind such influential film releases felt like a privilege, but there’s also no substitute for how much you can learn working at a small company handling films of that size.

Delphine presenting this year

I wasn’t sure where my experience in theatrical sales would lead, but I was keen to embrace a new challenge when it came my way. For the past year I’ve been working as a Box Office Analyst at Gower Street Analytics, curating theatrical box office estimates and related analysis. Since I started working in film I’ve been fascinated by box office and the ever-changing nature of it, so this job feels like a perfect fit for my interests.

I’m endlessly thankful for the opportunities that the FEDS scheme awarded me. From being a film graduate unsure of how to even get a foot in the door, five years later I’m still here, embracing new experiences as they come. Coming from a background where doing endless unpaid internships wasn’t an option, FEDS was a vital opportunity and the first step in a fulfilling career working in film. I’m passionate about promoting much needed diversity in the film distribution and exhibition workforce (which is improving, but slowly) and I’m glad that the FEDS scheme and the work the ICO does continues to enable that.

Are you passionate about film and want to work in the industry, but are struggling to find your way in? Then our FEDS 2020 scheme is for you! With a ten month long paid traineeship, as well as mentoring and industry expert advice, you’ll leave with a CV that will make you top of the list. The deadline for applications is Monday 6 January 2020. Apply now

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