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Chris Smith's UK Film Report Published
ITV and Sky told to step up

17 January 2012  |  Written by Owen Williams  |  Source: DCMS

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Chris Smith's UK Film Report Published

A week on from David Cameron's controversial comments apparently advocating the mainstreamification of the British film industry, Lord Smith's review has now been published, proving less inflammatory than we might have feared. The report champions "as wide a range of films as possible," Smith promised, "from the overtly commercial to the overtly arty and much in between."

The Prime Minister "understands, just as we do, that there is a whole range of movies and types of movie that we are supporting. He is very clear on that," he added. "We are not trying to dictate an artistic vision. We are trying to set in place a range of financial and legislative arrangements which will enable a broad range of movies to be made. We are not making a distinction in the review between something called mainstream and something called... something else."

The report's 56 recommendations include increased film education in schools; a scheme to get projection equipment into communities that don't have a local cinema; stronger investment in training and skills development, with a beady eye on new technologies; increased measures to combat piracy; and the inauguration of an annual celebration, such as a "British Film Week" to "provide audiences across the UK with access to the full spectrum of British film, giving them a greater insight into its breadth, depth and originality."

Outside that British Film Week however, the report doesn't have much to say about the distribution systems which can make independent British films difficult to catch in UK cinemas. So if you're outside London and you're not lucky enough to have a Watershed or a Cornerhouse or your own regional equivalent, you may still struggle to see a fraction of what's produced.

Call-Me-Dave's comments about the industry becoming more "dynamic and entrepreneurial", do have some roots in the report's recommendations for moving away from an "overall dependence on public funding" and rewarding commercial success. The report advocates the use of test screenings to gauge potential audience response before a film is finished, so that it can be adjusted accordingly (as is common Hollywood practice). And it suggests that a film's profits go to its producers, director and writers (rather than their having to return their lottery funding) for reinvestment in future projects.

"The principle of rewarding success is important because if [film-makers] have done it once, they're likely to do it again," said Smith. The government will not dictate to the BFI which films should receive its support, but the BFI "should bear the audience in mind."

Lord Smith's independent review panel also singled out broadcasters Sky and ITV for not doing enough in their support of British film. "They are doing very little, and we believe they should be doing more," Smith said. "We have suggested the government sits down with each of the broadcasters to see if an agreement can be reached to ensure greater investment in and acquisition of British films. We have also suggested that if agreement turns out to be impossible it is something the government might turn its attention to in the Communications Act which is proposed for some time in the next year or two. We hope that won't be necessary and broadcasters would want to step up to the plate voluntarily."

Both Sky and ITV protested this via statements, with Sky saying it plans to increase investment in "homegrown content" to £600m by 2014, and ITV trumpeting that it makes Downton Abbey.

Labour welcomed the report, with shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Harriet Harman saying it "offers an important opportunity for the Government to give the film industry the support it needs and deserves, and to welcome a new era for British film."

Shadow Culture Minister Dan Jarvis said, "The Government now needs to listen to Lord Smith’s review and create a climate in which our film industry can continue to flourish."

Ed Vaizy, the Conservative Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, who commissioned the report, says the government will make a formal response in a few months time.


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Posted by ChrisSmithUK at 21:51 on 28 May 2012 | Report This Post

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Posted by ChrisSmithUK at 21:51 on 28 May 2012 | Report This Post

basically this can be boiled down to "politicians and out of touch morons desperately trying to appeal to as many as possible, while simultaneously confirming everything we've ever thought about them." Hows about they do something useful, like introduce more tax breaks and other such incentives to get productions up and running, hell they could even set up some kind of group, an organization....no, no, i've got it. A COUNCIL. What the UK needs is a COUNCIL to help people interested More

Posted by clarkkent at 20:23 on 17 January 2012 | Report This Post

basically this can be boiled down to "politicians and out of touch morons desperately trying to appeal to as many as possible, while simultaneously confirming everything we've ever thought about them." Hows about they do something useful, like introduce more tax breaks and other such incentives to get productions up and running, hell they could even set up some kind of group, an organization....no, no, i've got it. A COUNCIL. What the UK needs is a COUNCIL to help people interested More

Posted by clarkkent at 20:23 on 17 January 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Losing Out
L: spark1 it is true that too many UK producers, desperate to get funding, sign away potential profits that could come to them if the film becomes a hit. hose profits have to pay for all the middle men and women who do nothing but claim money back on drinks, lunches, dinners, hotels, etc. in the name of "networking". More

Posted by Tech_Noir at 19:47 on 17 January 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Support?
L: attakdog L: ofthesun I am trying desperately to find the catch here. The government wanting to be POSITIVE about the British Film Industry? Although they do call for more investment from Sky and ITV. Which can only be a good thing, I suppose. Although, I hope this means we are not continually saturated by period dramas and awful cock-er-ney gangster movies staring Danny od movie" Both channels (and BBC/Channel4) should have a look at their syndication policies too. Fo More

Posted by Osric at 19:33 on 17 January 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Support?
L: ofthesun I am trying desperately to find the catch here. The government wanting to be POSITIVE about the British Film Industry? Although they do call for more investment from Sky and ITV. Which can only be a good thing, I suppose. Although, I hope this means we are not continually saturated by period dramas and awful cock-er-ney gangster movies staring Danny od movie" Both channels (and BBC/Channel4) should have a look at their syndication policies too. For every "friends hope More

Posted by attakdog at 17:29 on 17 January 2012 | Report This Post

Sky
I have always wondered why Sky don't have their own film making arm, just to add to the prestige of the Sky Movies brand. ITV invest enough in bollocks on a saturday night and I doubt it would cost that much more to have a film unit the scale of Film4. More

Posted by RhysH101 at 16:13 on 17 January 2012 | Report This Post

The responsibilities of Distributors & Cinemas
I live in Guildford where the local Odeon's attitude to British Movies and independent film is absolutely atrocious. "Attack The Block" was released during the chain's "Celebrating British Film" season in the summer. What was chosen to represent the best of Brit film in Guildford? Harry Potter. Attack The Block wasn't even shown. What chance does British film have if even the most commercially viable of indigenously produced work can't get exposure outside of London? More

Posted by albumental at 14:28 on 17 January 2012 | Report This Post

Dear ITV ...
... Downton Abbey is not a film. You f*cking morons! Also, it is for old ladies. SKY and ITV don't need to fund British movies, they just need to put some ON once in a while. SKY box is becoming the 'Friends and QI' machine and ITV is a channel I simply haven't watched for years, because I f*cking hate talent shows (which are also not films, ITV) as much as I hate Ant & Dec. Why don't these channels COMMISSION new films from independent filmmakers and f*cking put them on, thereby getting new More

Posted by Nicky C at 13:28 on 17 January 2012 | Report This Post

Exhibition must be addressed
The government can go on about producing more of any kind of film but it makes no difference if people can't see them. They should insist that a certain percentage of screens at multiplexes must show British films so that more people are able to see them. The amount of "arty" films I would go and see if only they were played near me! More

Posted by spinalgaz at 11:29 on 17 January 2012 | Report This Post

Losing Out
it is true that too many UK producers, desperate to get funding, sign away potential profits that could come to them if the film becomes a hit. More

Posted by spark1 at 11:03 on 17 January 2012 | Report This Post

Support?
I am trying desperately to find the catch here. The government wanting to be POSITIVE about the British Film Industry? Although they do call for more investment from Sky and ITV. Which can only be a good thing, I suppose. Although, I hope this means we are not continually saturated by period dramas and awful cock-er-ney gangster movies staring Danny "one good movie" Dyer. Both channels (and BBC/Channel4) should have a look at their syndication policies too. For every "friends More

Posted by ofthesun at 09:26 on 17 January 2012 | Report This Post

Christ, so we get a report from the Richard Curtis fan club basically saying lets make a lot of films.. what a ridiculous waste of time and resources More

Posted by chris wootton at 09:20 on 17 January 2012 | Report This Post

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