the media and entertainment union
a sector of Prospect

17 January 2012

'A Future for British Film', a report from the Film Policy Review Panel published yesterday (16 January) promotes the economic and creative benefits of British film in recommendations to government. Here, Martin Spence, assistant general secretary, speaks to the report's key themes and underlines the importance of future film strategy to BECTU members.

Martin Spence writes:

The report has been well-received by most of the industry - though of course all it does is make recommendations, primarily to Government and the BFI.

The panel sees the BFI as "the single focused leadership body for UK film", and heaps a range of tasks on it, from audience development to film education in schools to R&D in digital technology.

Future investment

It also confirms the BFI's role at the heart of commercial film production and distribution - so for instance, while recommending a new right for producers to recoup equity investment from successful films, it also stipulates that recouped funds be held in trust by the BFI to ensure that they are re-invested in new production and not simply taken as profit.

The report also calls for broadcasters - specifically ITV and Sky - to increase their investment in/support for film.

Responding to the audience

In addition the Panel suggests that a new fund is established drawing on lottery money, but available only to producer-distributor partnerships. The aim here is to marry producers' creativity with distributors' focus on audiences. In fact the title of the report as a whole is "A future for British film - it begins with the audience".

Anti-piracy measures

Key challenges identified in BECTU's evidence to the panel - including the threat posed by piracy, and the continuing need to invest in our skilled workforce - are discussed in the report. On piracy, it recommends speedy implementation of the Digital Economy Act and argues that it should be a criminal offence to record films in cinemas.

On skills, it argues for a continuation of the existing 'film skills strategy' and in particular supports apprenticeships in craft and technical departments. It also calls for the two sector skills councils, Skillset and Creative & Cultural Skills, to merge.

Emphasis on a skilled workforce

Overall, the report sets out a vision for the film industry based on sensitivity to audiences, reward for success, a skilled workforce, and a strong public agency in the BFI.

If this vision wins government and BFI backing, the volume of film production will increase generating welcome jobs for the industry, the economy and for BECTU members. And we have our own contribution to make to future growth - most immediately in our negotiations with PACT on a new film agreement.

Martin Spence

Follow this link to the DCMS site and the Panel's full report. BECTU's submission to the Panel is attached to this page.

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