UK Film Council sets out new plan to steer film through recession

MUMBAI: The UK Film Council launched a three month public consultation into the most significant revision of its activities since it was created in 2000. UK Film: Digital innovation and creative excellence sets out the policy and funding priorities for the next three years (April 2010 to March 2013), and specifically proposes:

·         a new £15m Film Production Fund which has four distinct creative gatekeepers, is focused on the pursuit of creative excellence and puts more emphasis on first- and second-time filmmakers;

·         a producer equity position in all UK Film Council-funded feature films;

·         a minimum 25% target for non-London originated film production;

·         a new £5m Innovation Fund, to promote new business models and ensure UK film’s successful transition into a fully digital age;

·         sustained investment in the BFI, to support the conservation of UK film heritage and improve access to film culture;

·         a renewed emphasis on attracting inward investment to the UK film sector and underlining the continued importance of the Film Tax Relief;

·         prioritizing skills training for new technologies and post-production;

·         additional funding to support the industry in combating film theft;

·         continued support for film distribution and audience-focused initiatives; and

·         an ongoing commitment to achieving a more diverse and inclusive workforce and film culture.

Launching the consultation document, UK Film Council chairman Tim Bevan CBE said that the new three year business plan was a robust response to the economic downturn and its effect on film financing, rapid technological change and the reduction of the UK Film Council’s income due to the 2012 Olympics.

Bevan added: "The support the UK Film Council has given film culture and the film industry over the past ten years has been enormous, but we’re now operating in a very different environment and we need to adapt to meet the needs of a new generation of audiences and filmmakers. To do that when the UK Film Council is itself having to find savings of £25 million over the next three years is a real challenge. But it’s now more important than ever to ensure we invest as much money as possible in film production, in creative and cultural excellence, and in helping UK film make a successful transition into the digital age – and that’s exactly what we’re proposing to do.”

UK Film Council chief executive John Woodward, outlined plans to replace the Premiere, New Cinema and Development Funds with a single unified Film Production Fund which, alongside an ongoing commitment to support world-class filmmakers, will provide a new space and funding stream to support experimental filmmaking. He confirmed that, topped-up with recoupment from successful film investment, the new fund could well have more money to spend on development and production than is currently the case.

Woodward also unveiled proposals for a new Innovation Fund to help UK film companies across the value chain make the successful transition into the digital age. Its remit would include identifying new business opportunities that technology and innovation can help unlock, providing financial support for innovative film organizations looking to develop new sources of revenue, and enabling better working between innovators, audiences and film companies.

Woodward commented: “By creating two substantial new funds – one to support the move into a fully digital world and one to champion the very best of UK film talent – the UK Film Council is underlining its support for British filmmakers at a time of genuine uncertainty. Separate to the consultation process itself, we are also cutting our overheads by 20% to push more money into front-line film activity. The next three months are about consulting with people from across the film sector, listening to their views on our proposals and locking in the right priorities going forward from April 2010 – but until then, it’s very much business as usual."