In April, key players from the UK film industry gathered for Westminster Media Forum‘s Keynote Seminar on the UK Film Industry. Heads of organisations as diverse as the BFI, Creative Skillset, BBC Films, Creative England, Directors UK, the National Film and Television School and the Cinema Exhibitors Association made keynote speeches about the key issues of funding, skills training and the digital future, and engaged in passionate debates with delegates who had travelled from all over the UK.
movieScope was there, and editor Nikki Baughan was invited to write a response to the discussions. Here’s what she had to say.
Joining The Dots
As a truly independent publication, movieScope holds a unique and privileged position in the UK media, allowing us to speak to all sectors of the film industry about all manner of issues. Just as many of the speakers at Westminster Media Forum’s Keynote UK Film Industry Seminar have featured between our pages, so we have also tackled the major issues of funding, skills training and future planning.
The prevailing theme to emerge from the forum is also close to our hearts; joining the dots between the myriad groups operating under the banner of ‘British film’. Indeed, whether we’re speaking to filmmakers, analysts or organisation heads it’s clear that, while there’s a unified love and palpable pride for British film, there’s often a huge disparity in the concept of the industry as a growing business.
The technological evolution and subsequent democratisation has led to a huge number of talented and enthusiastic young British filmmakers not just being inspired to make movies, but being able to get out there and do it. As a publication, we regularly hear from these independent filmmakers, who are looking to raise awareness for their low-to-no-budget short or feature films. Many, however, seem to regard the finished film as the end of the journey, rather than just one step in a process which needs to result in that film finding a wide, appreciative audience.
Only in this way can it generate the revenue needed for all involved to be able to move on and reinvest in future projects. What we are finding is that young filmmakers are unsure how to join the dots between creating content and turning that content into a sustainable business.
All attending the seminar were aware that this knowledge gap needs to be addressed, and it is imperative that creative integrity and financial responsibility should be seen as two sides of the same coin when it comes to the key areas of skills training. To this end, filmmakers should be encouraged to access the knowledge bases of different sectors, from funding bodies who can help navigate the difficult path to accessing proper finance, to sales agents and distributors who can advise on how best to produce a work that is likely to find an audience not just in the UK, but in the global marketplace.
Additionally, filmmakers and industry bodies alike need to forge closer relationships with the cinema-going public through initiatives such as festivals, clubs and dedicated education programmes. Joining the dots between naked ambition, practical business knowledge and audience expectation will allow us to effectively cultivate these essential grassroots filmmakers.
Just as the availability of diverse skills training and the transparent exchange of knowledge are key issues, equally as important is securing our future in the wake of rapid digital evolution. Although no clear picture has yet emerged of exactly what lies ahead, with this seismic change comes huge potential and it is vital this is not squandered in the face of fragmented and disparate priorities.
As new digital business models and operating procedures are developed, sectors must work together, so creating cognitive and coherent digital methodologies. Joining the dots between these emerging opportunities and all factions of the British creative industries will see the UK moving forward as a united global force, one with the power to successfully monetise these new technologies across the board.
movieScope has always been a proactive part of the UK film industry, and our philosophy is now more important than ever; in this game, no-one can be a casual observer when it comes to addressing the issues that affect us all. If all the skills, funding and digital dots are truly to be joined for a cohesive future, continuing collaboration and communication throughout the industry is absolutely key.
This response was included in the official transcript of the Westminster Media Forum’s Keynote Seminar on the UK Film Industry