I am delighted to be here this evening to launch BFI 2022, the BFI’s powerful new five year vision for UK film.
From Metropolis to Dr Marty from Spock to Skywalker, film has always felt futuristic.
So as we look to the future today, we stand at an exciting time for British Film. Perhaps at no time in history has film made here in Britain loomed so large on the world stage
Cast your mind back just to 2012, when the trends that have gathered pace since then were emerging, and the BFI launched its last, hugely successful strategy.
Back then film made in Britain was in a renaissance, with growing confidence, a growing talent base, and a growing international reputation.
Since then that growth has strengthened.
The value of UK film production in 2015 was £1.4bn.
Now we meet to launch the strategy for the next five years. We are all, here, united in our determination that Britain’s place build on this recent strength, protect what we have, and go forward.
There are challenges anew – but also opportunities like never before.
Where do we want to be in five years from now? How do we get there? What do we want our story be? These are the questions the BFI has asked and looked to answer in BFI2022.
First, we must remain at the top of our game when it comes to excellence: excellence of content and facilities and people. We know that content creation is thriving in the UK, propelled in part by our highly successful tax credits. The challenge is to keep building on this success. I want to ensure that the UK remains not only a great – but the best – place in the world to make film.
Excellence also requires the very best talent, and it’s amazing to see the hub of talent that’s developed here over the past few years. Now the best collection of producers and CGI and crew and of course actors are based in Britain, feeding the industry.
Second, this excellence will only be sustained by keeping open access.
We support finding talent for the industry wherever we find it, from all parts of the country, and continuing to attract the brightest and best from around the world.
I am delighted to see the BFI’s commitment to encourage opportunity for all, starting at the earliest age. Amongst the children who today are inspired, Into Film’s 10,000 after school film clubs are tomorrow’s scriptwriters, producers, directors, VFX artists.
Setting out a career pathway is vital, to capitalise on the natural appeal of film and inspiring people to believe - no matter who they are or where they come from - that a career is within their grasp, and then giving them the skills to achieve their ambitions.
To strengthen this access, I welcome the BFI’s commitment to devolve more decision-making to the regions in order to ensure this happens. The ongoing Black Star season - the UK’s biggest ever season of film and TV dedicated to celebrating black actors - has been a brilliant success, and I welcome the commitment to take an even stronger leadership role to improve diversity, broadening access to opportunity to people from all backgrounds.
It is only by encouraging the creative potential of everyone that we will truly advance our industry, telling stories that resonate with audiences not only across the UK, but around the world.
Third, we need to make sure the UK’s role on the global stage grows ever greater over the next five years.
I’m determined we will make a success of Brexit, and look to harness the potential of other markets, old and new.
The BFI has done great work in building relations with China, opening up cultural and commercial opportunities for UK film. We are currently engaged in negotiations with the Chinese to deliver a TV co-production treaty to sit alongside the film treaty signed in 2014 - making us only the second country in the world to achieve this feat.
On the other side of the globe US studios are clamouring to take advantage of our world-class studios and crews.
And I’m determined that we will be at the forefront of the synthesis that technology is bringing at pace across the screen industries. It is shrewdly reflected here in the BFI’s new commitment to support not only film, but also work destined for other platforms that tells a story, expresses an idea, or evokes an emotion through the art of the moving image.
One thing is certain - over the next five years more British stories will be told. Stories that reflect the breadth of our culture, our country, our way of life. That defines Britain to ourselves, and to the world.
The BFI have set out here a compelling vision for how UK film can speak for us all. And it contains an exciting proposal for how, right here on London’s Southbank , they propose a new centre that would be a veritable cathedral of film to host, celebrate, and inspire this British success story.
When people recognise their stories on screen, they engage - they visit - they stream - they see the future, and in this most modern of mediums they hear that age old human thing: a story.
You are the storytellers.
I look forward to working with you to see your story unfold.