Creative England announce inaugural cohort for the Female Founders scale-up programme, a new initiative to support female screen entrepreneurs

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Creative England is proud to announce the 10 participants in Female Founders, a new initiative that aims to help female entrepreneurs working in film, TV, games and tech to build, expand and future-proof their businesses.

The six-month Female Founders scale up programme offers an in-depth package of support, advice and professional coaching to female business owners, providing laser-focused sessions on issues such as business planning, funding, strategy, making the right hires and monetising IP. The scheme serves as an acknowledgement that female-run companies tend to be more successful and offer safer investment opportunities than those helmed by men, but that women nevertheless find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to establishing and scaling up their businesses.

The initiative’s first cohort offers an exciting snapshot of the depth and creativity of the country’s screen industries, with the participants’ expertise spanning film, TV, documentary film-making, immersive storytelling, branded content, video games and animation.

Haley Edwards, Creative Enterprise Programme Manager for Creative England, said: “With such a talented and ambitious group on board, Female Founders is really off to a flying start. These 10 women exemplify why our creative industries are such a global success story: they’re committed to breaking new ground, creating world-class content and telling meaningful stories in innovative ways. We couldn’t be happier to be working with them, and we hope to help them grow and scale up their businesses so they can continue going from strength to strength.”

The inaugural Female Founders cohort are:

Hannah Wood – Story Juice

Hannah runs Story Juice, a Plymouth-based game development and immersive storytelling studio that works on its own IP and with clients across immersive experiences, video games and interactive theatre and performance art. Hannah has a PhD in interactive narrative from the University of Exeter, and lectures in Creative Media at the University of Plymouth.

Barbara Santi – Awen Productions

Barbara is a documentary filmmaker/producer with twenty years’ experience using film and digital media for positive social change. She is co-director of the award-winning Awen Productions, a creative media social enterprise set up in 2006 and based in Cornwall. Barbara’s practice pushes the boundaries of collaborative film, creative storytelling, archive and ideas around place, identity and culture. This has culminated in a practice-based PhD of which her first feature documentary is being produced.


Julie Heathcote – Factory Films

Julie is an RTS Award winner with over 25 years production experience. Making the jump from the music industry to the newsroom early in her career she then moved into factual TV, making documentaries, wildlife films and factual entertainment for a variety of international broadcasters. At Factory, Julie has series produced or exec’d all of Factory’s output, from comedy shorts for Comedy Central to the huge live event of the Glyndebourne Opera Cup for Sky Arts.


Anna Hall – Candour Productions
Anna is a documentary director with 20+ years experience in the industry. She is known for making difficult, sensitive, reputational films which often grab headlines. A six-time BAFTA nominee and winner of the RTS Journalism Award, she established her own Candour Productions in her home city of Leeds – a female-led company that is passionate about – and has an excellent track record in – supporting female talent.


Eloise Singer- Singer Films

Eloise is an award-winning producer who previously worked at Pinewood Studios.  She recently executive produced Billie Piper’s high-profile directing debut Rare Beasts, which was selected for Venice Film Festival: Critics’ Week, BFI London Film Festival, and SXSW. Eloise established Singer Films in 2017 and was recently awarded a scholarship onto Sundance’s Producer’s Co-lab Programme. Eloise is currently developing a true crime documentary with XYZ Films; a BFI-supported documentary executive produced by BAFTA nominated Mike Knowles; and a foreign language film with producers Tommie Curran (former Director of Production at Wanda Studios) and BAFTA & Golden Globe nominated Jane Zheng (The Farewell). Eloise is currently producing an educational VR game in partnership with Goldsmiths University and Escape Studios. Supported by Creative England, the project is written by BEATS fellowship awardee Maja Bodenstein and executive produced by former Head of Sony London, Dr Dave Raynard.


Diana Ellis-Hill – Be The Fox

Diana started her career making documentaries at the BBC, including the RTS award-winning Wonders Of The Universe and BBC2’s flagship science documentary strand, Horizon. She chalked up 12 years’ experience before making the leap into the world of branded content and setting up Be The Fox with Meg.



Kath Shackleton – Fettle Animation

Kath is a producer and the owner of a multi-award winning animation studio in West Yorkshire.  I manage all aspects of production.  A full-service animation studio, they are also developing a children’s TV series and an animated augmented reality experience.

Liz Cunningham – Forward Slash Films

For the last five years Liz has focused on behavioural change programmes using 360 film and immersive technology, with a focus on authentic storytelling. Previous roles in radio and print where she served as the link between commercial and editorial teams provided the necessary grounding for delivering content that connects with audiences while delivering a profitable return.


Juliet Tzabar – Plug in Media

Juliet’s media career spans 25+ years, and has seen her work in TV art departments before moving into digital media to specialise in the delivery of delivering interactive projects with a broadcast tie-in. Juliet joined Plug-in Media in 2007, and as CEO has led the company’s growth and success, establishing it as one of the UK’s leading digital production companies. Working across animation and games, the company has received multiple awards – including five BAFTAs. She has Executive Produced many of the studio’s projects, including the BAFTA-winning games Big And Small, Zingzillas, Get Well Soon Hospital and the short animation, Help Our Little World. Since 2013 Juliet has been leading the company’s original IP strategy, driving the ‘digital-first’ success of Tee And Mo, from 10 web games via short-form content to a 50×7’ animated TV series and a YouTube channel that has amassed over 180 million views.


Jane Gerber – Peanut & Crumb

A BAFTA and RTS nominee and winner of a coveted Broadcast Award, Jane has produced, directed and executive produced documentary and factual series for BBC, Channel 4, ITV, Channel 5, Sky and international broadcasters for over 20 years. Seeing an opportunity to bring high quality broadcast storytelling and visuals to the growing branded content market, Jane and her business partner BBC presenter Katie Derham founded Brighton based Peanut & Crumb in 2015, an integrated production and strategic communications company, whose impressive list of clients includes Tesco, WWF, Total, UKTI, The National Lottery, PwC, Havas, Sotheby’s and Leon Restaurants.

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