the media and entertainment union
a sector of Prospect

13 June 2012

BECTU has responded to two important consultations on the future of film. The first refers to the British Film Institute and focuses on its new role as the key public agency responsible for the film industry. The second relates to a ‘Communication’ from the European Commission which has floated new ideas governing member states which give ‘state aid’ to their film industries.

BFI_logoThe BFI has set out a draft Five Year Plan based around three themes: Supporting British Film; Education and Audiences; and Film Heritage.

Many of the ideas are drawn from the Film Policy Review published earlier this year by a panel chaired by Lord Chris Smith, which was broadly welcomed by BECTU and by most of the industry.

However, in our submission we suggest that the balance of the BFI’s proposals is wrong, especially when it comes to the allocation of lottery money. BECTU argues that more Lottery money should be allocated to ‘Supporting British Film’, and less to ‘Education and Audiences’ which is already well-funded from non-Lottery sources.

Call for more money for skills development

This extra money should go into additional support for British film productions with cultural merit; and into practical skills and training including New Entrant training, Apprenticeships, and short courses for freelances.

With funding should come responsibility

However BECTU also believes that with support comes responsibility: we argue that producers in receipt of BFI financial support should be required to demonstrate that they comply with employment law, good practice, and trade union agreements; and that they should carry out equality monitoring to improve access for talented and experienced individuals from diverse backgrounds.
The full BECTU response to the BFI consultation is attached to this page.

(You may also be interested in Back to the Future: What lies ahead for British Film? a session at the union's Freelancers' Fair on Friday 29 June. Join the debate with our special guests. More information and booking forms here

State aid and Europe 

EU_flagThe European Commission’s ‘Communication’ on state aid is a much more difficult read than the glossy brochure produced by the BFI. In places it is almost perversely dense – but there are real issues at stake.

Right now EU member states can offer state aid to film producers in the form of direct subsidies, or in the form of tax relief.

The Communication proposes that the ground-rules for both should be changed in ways which BECTU, and our sister unions elsewhere in Europe, believe would be disastrous. If implemented, they would undermine national and regional film cultures, throughout Europe; and would undermine the ability of all European countries to compete with territories elsewhere in the world to host big-budget productions.
The response to the proposals has been so unanimously negative across Europe that even before the consultation was over the Commission was visibly back-peddling. BECTU’s submission to the Commission is available here
Martin Spence
Assistant General Secretary

All of BECTU's policy consultation responses can be found on here.

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