Press release

The Future of British Film - Lord Smith publishes his review of British film policy

Issued on behalf of the Film Policy Review Panel

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A revolutionary new approach to film education in British schools, financial incentives to encourage collaborations between producers and distributors at the initial stages of financing a project, and moves to encourage all major broadcasters to increase current levels of support for British film are some of the recommendations made by leading industry experts in a report published today.

Commissioned last year by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, A Future for British Film - it begins with the audience is published by an independent review panel, chaired by Lord Chris Smith. The review has been undertaken in the context of an extremely challenging economic climate and the recommendations made are designed to help ensure that film is one of the sectors which plays a full role in driving growth, creating jobs and stimulating inward investment and exports.

Lord Smith has placed the audience - be it cinema-goers, TV viewers or smartphone users - at the heart of the review which seeks to use public policy to maximise audience access to films of every kind.  Although the average Briton watches over 80 films a year on big and small screens, the UK audience still gets to see too few British films - between 2001 and 2010 independent British films accounted for only 5.5per cent at the box office.

The series of recommendations in the review are intended to increase audience choice and grow the demand for British films in the UK and overseas. These recommendations complement policy measures to support the production of British films, helping ensure that those films reach appreciative audiences, stimulating cultural awareness and creativity.

Lord Smith said:

“British film is going through a golden period.  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 a total of 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. Film education has a vital role to play in ensuring that everyone in the UK has the opportunity to engage with film. By enhancing the stock of knowledge and information about film, in particular among children and young people, film education can assist in growing the audience of today and tomorrow, ensuring that audiences have an improved understanding and appreciation of different kinds of film, whilst stimulating creativity.

  • A call for the major broadcasters to invest more in the screening, acquisition and production of independent British film. Given that the majority of people still watch most of the films they see on television, an increased commitment to screening British films would also have an important impact on the vitality of cultural life in the UK. Similarly, the broadcasters could be a powerful force for sharing information and knowledge about the breadth of film available - through increased programming about film, online content and mobile ‘apps’.

  • Incentives ensuring a more collaborative approach between producers, directors and distributors which in turn will facilitate financing of projects. If public funding was used to encourage distribution and production companies to approach the financing and distribution of projects as equal partners, their financial interests would be brought into alignment and valuable commercial knowledge could be exchanged to the wider long-term benefit of the industry.

  • A strong commitment to combat piracy and illegal exploitation of intellectual property. Copyright infringement and theft is one of the major factors behind declining revenues. The creative industries make the biggest use of copyright and design by contributing over £36 billion to the economy, supporting 1.5 million jobs. To maximise this important contribution to the economy, and to further economic growth, an effective strategy for significantly reducing copyright infringement and theft is vital.

  • A scheme to bring digital screens and projectors to village and community halls across the country. The Big Lottery Fund and BFI should work together to create a programme of assistance for local film clubs and societies in areas of rural deprivation or isolation, including the provision of screening facilities for village and community halls.

  • An annual celebration, focused on a British Film Week, to re-establish the brand of British film. The Panel would like to see the BFI working closely with distributors and exhibitors on an annual celebration which would 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. 

  • Stronger investment in training and skills development, especially to seize new technology opportunities. The development of skills and talent provides the backbone which underpins the success of the entire film sector in the UK; from production, sales, distribution, and exhibition to archive.  If the UK is to maintain its competitive position in a digital age, it must continue to invest in the development of that talent and those skills. 

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said:

“I am committed to creating a more stable and successful film 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 to government, industry and the BFI.”

Notes to Editors

  1. The review can be found on the DCMS website.

  2. The panel was asked to identify barriers to growth in the British film industry. The principal objectives of the Review were to:

  •     Provide greater coherence and consistency in the UK film industry
  •     Determine how best to set policy directions for the increased Lottery funding
  •     Identify ways to develop and retain UK talen
  •     Increase audience demand for film, including independent British film.
  1. In selecting the Panel, the chairman Lord Smith wanted people with industry experience and expertise who could provide a credible voice to represent each respective link in the value chain for UK film, whilst having a good understanding of the overall complexities of the industry. 

The members were:

  • Will Clarke, Independent film distributor, founder and former CEO of Optimum Releasing
  • Lord Julian Fellowes, Oscar® winning writer and actor
  • Matthew Justice, UK film producer and Managing Director of Big Talk
  • Michael Lynton, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Sony Pictures Entertainment
  • Tim Richards, Chief Executive of Vue Entertainment
  • Tessa Ross, CBE, Controller of Film and Drama, Channel 4
  • Libby Savill, Head of Film and Television at Olswang
  • Iain Smith, OBE, film producer and Chair of the British Film Commission Advisory Board
  1. The Government and the BFI will respond in full to the recommendations later this Spring.

  2. A short video of Lord Chris Smith talking about the review can be found on the DCMS channel on YouTube and can be embedded in external websites.

  3. A Google map of the UK showing iconic and unusual film locations for several major British films and some Hollywood productions through the ages can be found online and can be embedded in external websites.

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Published 16 January 2012