I had intended to make the first post of 2011 a bumper compilation of annual admissions and box office totals from around the world, but the numbers are still coming in so it’ll have to wait (for example, UKFC will publish UK box office and market share numbers on 20 January).
But here’s something to chew over in the meantime. Today saw the first public pronouncement on the likely shape of film policy under the BFI, cunningly disguised as an advertisement for new Trustees.
You may have heard the BFI is looking to recruit five new Board members, details of which can be found on the web site. Among the supporting documents offered to prospective candidates is an overview of the BFI’s transformation into ‘A New Organisation for Film’, providing a glimpse of how the handover from UKFC and the strategic objectives for film are developing.
The document confirms much of what we’ve already been told: the BFI will assume responsibility for all Lottery funding for film, as well as the Film Certification Unit, the MEDIA Desk and funding of Creative England, in the process becoming ’a coherent new body’ with ‘a clear, single strategy for film in the UK.’
Then in a section entitled ‘Founding Aspirations’ the document sets out – for the first time, that I’m aware of- the emerging strategic goals of the new body:
'1. Effect a smooth and supportive transition of responsibilities from the UK Film Council to the BFI;
2. Achieve a vibrant film culture and successful film industry across the UK;
3. Achieve the best balance between economic benefit and cultural benefit;
4. Strengthen the sustainability of film businesses;
5. Maximise the use of Lottery and other public funds for front line activities, and reduce bureaucracy and costs so that more money can be concentrated on film activities;
6. Achieve greater coherence across the whole film sector; and
7. Develop partnerships with other bodies that substantially increase the impact and reach of British films (for example, working with broadcasters to increase exhibition opportunities for film, on broadcast TV and video on demand, as well as on the big screen).'
If it all sounds rather familiar, that’s because it is:
(1) is reasonable enough: 'steady as she goes'.
(2) has been cribbed directly from UKFC’s homework book.
(3) implies a clear distinction between economic and cultural benefits of film, which may be less clear in reality. Besides, any ‘balance’ to be struck is needed in terms of support not outcome.
(4) supplies the obligatory reference to the S word (see earlier post 'On Sustainability: UK Film Policy After the UK Film Council').
(5) is very much in tune with Government mood music ('Do More for Less').
(6) is a mystery- I’ve no idea what it means. Anyone?
(7) sounds like a jolly good idea, but will Sky take note? That’s the real challenge.
There’s nothing here that UKFC hadn’t previously committed to deliver, or would have committed to had it been given half a chance. Granted it is still early days, yet on the available evidence the only thing the BFI offers afresh is that it will do much the same as the previous incumbents but for fewer Scooby snacks.
The document also sets out some next steps and a timetable, including a public consultation ‘on a new, refreshed film policy across all areas from archive, through distribution, exhibition, skills and education, to production’ during spring 2011. This will report in the autumn, for introduction from 1 April 2012. In addition the new BFI Board will establish a Film Strategy Development Task Force chaired by the as-yet-to-be recruited Deputy Chair (though presumably with minimal administrative support, to keep back office costs down and help preserve front line activities).