A future for British Film: It begins with the audience

A new approach to film education in British schools and financial incentives to encourage early collaboration between producers and distributors are among the recommendations of a report published today.

A Future for British Film – it begins with the audience”, published by an independent review panel chaired by Lord Chris Smith, was commissioned last year by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey and has looked at how to ensure film is a sector which plays a full role in driving growth.

The audience has been placed at the heart of the review, and today’s recommendations aim to maximise audience access to films of every kind.

“Golden period of film”

“British film is going through a golden period,” Lord Smith said. “A run of British-made and British-based movies has been taking audiences around the world by storm.  But we cannot be complacent – this review highlights the things that the BFI, Government and industry can do to ensure that we continue to build on recent successes.


British film is in prime position to make a major contribution to the growth of the UK’s economy, to the development of attractive and fulfilling careers for young people, and to the creation of job opportunities across the country.”

The report contains 56 recommendations to Government, industry and the British Film Institute (BFI) including:

  • a new programme to bring film education into every school, giving every pupil the chance to see, understand and learn about British film
  • a call for the major broadcasters to invest more in the screening, acquisition and production of independent British film;
  • incentives ensuring a more collaborative approach between producers, directors and distributors which in turn will facilitate financing of projects;
  • a strong commitment to combat piracy and illegal exploitation of intellectual property;
  • a scheme to bring digital screens and projectors to village and community halls across the country.

Mr Vaizey said: “I am committed to creating a more stable and financially sustainable industry and I thank Chris Smith and the panel for the huge amount of work that has gone into preparing this report. I know the panel has worked very closely with representatives from the entire film community and I look forward to examining what the report recommends.”



Clare Stewart to the newly created role of Head of Exhibition, BFI.

From late August 2011, Clare will be responsible for the cultural and commercial performance of BFI Southbank, BFI Festivals and BFI IMAX. She will lead the delivery of a dynamic world class programme of British and international cinema that is designed and contextualised to attract the broadest and most diverse audience.

Clare, whose career in programming spans sixteen years, joins the BFI from her position as Festival Director of Sydney Film Festival, a role she held for five years. Clare introduced and built the reputation of the festival’s Official Competition, successfully increased audiences and box-office takings, attracted new funding and sponsorship deals and curated new experiential strands. Clare’s final Sydney Film Festival was June 8-19 2011. In addition to critically and commercially successful festivals, Clare brings venue experience to the task having previously served as the inaugural Head of Film Programs at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne.

Clare Stewart said:

“I am thrilled to be joining the BFI at this significant moment in the organisation’s history and to be working with Creative Director Heather Stewart to forge the future strategy for the flagship BFI Southbank venue and leading film festivals. This new position provides the opportunity to align the expertise of the BFI’s team of programmers and producers with the objective of further enhancing the cultural and business impact of the BFI’s diverse screening programmes.”

Heather Stewart, Creative Director BFI said:

“This new role is a great opportunity for the BFI to bring together our exhibition activities and think about how we reach audiences for both historical and contemporary filmmaking in our festivals and all year round. I’m confident that Clare can meet the challenges ahead with flair and imagination. Clare has an impressive track record, most recently leading the Sydney Film Festival from strength to strength, and has proven that she has both the creative and commercial expertise this role needs.”


BFI Bursary for young filmmakers and artists

The BFI is looking for short films to host on its Vimeo channel as part of the BFI Future Film Young Docs collection. The Vimeo Channel will be a hub for young people across Europe to connect with one another through film, and will be a resource for media professionals and policy makers to see how young people really feel about hot topics before they make important decisions. If you have a documentary or non-fiction film you have made within the last three years submit it to us and you could be a part of this ground-breaking collection.

The documentary bursary 

The BFI is also looking for young filmmakers aged 15 – 25 to work with them on creating new documentaries. Four of the most promising young filmmakers will win a bursary of £400 to make their film as well as mentoring by a professional documentary filmmaker over three months at the BFI. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning a bursary is include a pitch for an idea for a new documentary you want to make with your documentary/non-fiction film submission. The pitch should be no longer than 250 words on the theme of “Same, but different”.


The video art bursary 

BFI Future Film and Young Tate Online are looking for young filmmakers and artists aged 16-25 to create new moving image artworks with our support. Six of the most promising moving image artists will be selected, and will win a production bursary of £400 to make a new piece of work. You will also receive mentoring over a three-month period from professional artist and filmmaker Phillip Warnell. To have a chance of winning, you should send a summary of your idea on the theme of “Local Heroes” (250 words maximum), and a short summary of how you would spend the bursary, which should be used for the production of the work. You will also need to send a link to an example of an existing video work you’ve made.

For more details see below. www.bfi.org.uk/whatson/calling_all_documentary_filmmakers_aged_1525



UK Film buffs urged to take advantage of EIS tax breaks

Investors hoping to benefit from the tax advantages of enterprise investment schemes can invest in a specialist UK film EIS, according to Philip Ettinger, executive producer of Catweazle − the Movie.

Advertising The Ettinger Brothers and producers Gatetarn Productions have teamed up with Intandem Films, to raise the £6m production budget, with £2m coming through the EIS.   Mr Ettinger said this follows recent blockbuster success for other UK films, such as The King’s Speech and Nanny McPhee.  He added: “The advantage of films is that the money made from a film does not stop with box office sales, merchandising and other franchising opportunities also providing excellent revenue streams.

” The scheme is designed to encourage investment by individuals in equity of privately trading companies. Investing in this type of scheme offers increased tax benefits, as identified in the Budget, and investors can take advantage of 30 per cent income tax relief. The maximum investment in any tax year that qualifies for relief is currently £500,000, meaning the maximum income tax relief available for 2011/2012 is £150,000. Alternatively, there is the facility to carry-back income tax relief to the previous tax year, 2010/2011, for which the maximum income tax relief available is £100,000. Investors can postpone paying capital gains tax and claim relief against income or CGT for shares sold at a loss.

Investments in an EIS are also eligible for business property relief, and therefore exempt from inheritance tax after being held for two years. Michael Owen, financial planning director for London-based Brooks Macdonald Financial Consulting, said: “The key with any tax-efficient investment is to ensure that the underlying business is sound. “CGT deferral is attractive but gains are re-crystallised at future rates upon disposal of the asset. Film investment has been fickle so sound business principles must over-ride mere tax planning.”

Ed Vaizey restarts the film funding debate

The BFI’s assumption of the UK Film Council’s responsibilities continues a decades-long saga of chopping and changing in the British film industry

This morning’s announcement by Ed Vaizey confirms the rumours that have been circulating from pretty much the moment that the UK Film Council was abolished: the British Film Institute will be picking up the reins of lottery-fund distribution to the film industry. What’s remarkable is that, after over two decades of chopping and changing, we are back where we were in the late 1980s: the BFI is the only game in town.

It’s especially extraordinary given the kind of rhetoric that accompanied the establishment of the UK Film Council in 2000. When John Woodward was appointed the UK Film Council’s chief executive in 2000, an interview he gave to the Guardian was perceived to be a not-especially-coded attack on the kind of – largely experimental – film the BFI’s production board had sponsored since the early 70s: “The Film Council will help to finance popular films that the British public will go and see in the multiplexes on Friday night. Films that entertain people and make them feel good … It’s pointless to go on handing out thousands of small amounts of money to small films that will struggle to find a distributor and be seen in cinemas … Nowadays, it no longer makes sense to marginalise public support by confining it to a small group of independent producers and directors, who will make films that no one will want or be able to see.”

And the UK Film Council’s first chairman, Alan Parker, was a well-known loather of the Peter Greenaway tendency: I can still remember him, when he was promoting Angela’s Ashes in 2003 on stage at the National Film Theatre, complaining about the adulatory reviews Greenaway got in the mid-80s.

The UK Film Council – in public at least – deliberately set its face against the unconventional, the arthouse, the “difficult”. Interestingly, the council has made enemies in the same way as the BFI production board did – until, of course, its activities were curtailed with the UK Film Council’s creation. The difference, of course, is that the UK Film Council has had access to millions, while the BFI only had thousands – originally given as a grace and favour fund direct from the Lord President of the Privy Council. Writing about the films of Bill Douglas, Mamoun Hassan, one of the BFI’s early, influential commissioners, gave us an interesting insight into how its oppositional stance was built into its foundation: “It represented the beginnings of an alternative cinema in Britain. Denis Forman, then chairman of the BFI, pointed out to the government that the BFI was doing what the National Film Finance Corporation, the quango responsible for film funding, was not interested in.”

The NFFC, a body set up to secure loans for film productions, was the funding establishment of its time, but as long ago as 1976, the Wilson government thought that setting up a single British Film Authority – the UK Film Council of its time – was the way forward. It never happened: the Conservatives in the 1980s weren’t interested.

Looking back, it’s bizarre how state intervention in film funding has been dominated by personal and political agendas. The UK Film Council, a creation of the post-lottery age, was motivated originally by a desire to overturn the dominance of the art film in British funding. The Wilsonian unitary film authority was anathema to Thatcherite laissez-faire; something that appears to be playing out again in the present day. When the lottery funding first materialised, in the mid-90s, it was directly administered, piecemeal, by the Arts Council, who were supposed to give money to projects not able to secure funding elsewhere; hence “lottery film” soon became shorthand for something pretty third rate, and quickly became a target for the likes of Alexander Walker at the Evening Standard. (It has to be said that film-makers, always able to talk a good game, ran rings around bureaucrats normally used to dealing with experimental theatre companies or brass bands.)

The government went to the opposite extreme: the “franchise” system, in which large blocks of cash were given to proven outfits, was supposed to ensure quality product, but that didn’t work either. Over the last decade, the UK Film Council was rather obviously the best organised, and most serious, attempt to make proper use of the lottery windfall. But now the swing is back the other way: an organisation with serious cultural and archival interest will now take over.

Interestingly, the UK Film Council’s record shows that a disbursement body can’t just follow a single line: it may have aimed for pure commerce, but also put money into films that the old BFI production board itself might have funded – My Summer of Love, Bullet Boy, Red Road, even a Peter Greeenaway film, Nightwatching. (Of course films like Sex Lives of the Potato Men – an outrageous financial and artistic blunder – balanced the account.) And over the decade of its existence, the council was forced to reorganise itself a number of times, to deal with anomalies and problems its development process created. Will the 2010s be an exact parallel of the 1980s, with the BFI desperately shoring up a film industry left to swing by the Conservatives?

The BFI, having been systematically stripped by the UK Film Council of its production role, will now have to build one practically from scratch – the fourth time in 15 years that the lottery largesse has forced a wholesale reworking of the state’s film funding process. We really are back where we started.

The Future of British Independent Film Industry

Ed Vaizey announced today the new structure of the UK film industry. 

His statement announces his commitment to supporting creating sustainable careers for filmmakers. 

He highlights the international investment coming into the UK, New Technologies and Lottery Funding.

Read the attached of the speech by Ed Vaizey on 29th November 2010 – The future of the British Film Industry.

Be Inspired

Is there a British Film industry?

We pose the question: Is there a British Film industry?  If so what does it look like? How do you make a profitable film?

All the kind of questions British filmmaker’s want answered and which Putnam and Attenborough successfully discovered the answers to.

View this ‘interesting’ clip by Lindsay Anderson, give us your feedback and Be Inspired