Lord Smith proposes British Film Week
- 16 January 2012
- From the section Entertainment & Arts
The introduction of a British Film Week is among proposals put forward by Lord Smith to help capitalise on "a golden period" of UK cinema.
Concluding his review of the industry, he said British films had been "taking audiences around the world by storm" but that "we cannot be complacent".
A new anti-piracy law and film education in schools are also proposed.
Last week, PM David Cameron said the film industry should support "commercially successful pictures".
Moving to allay fears this could be at the expense of cinematic diversity in the UK, review chairman Lord Smith told journalists the panel was "not trying to dictate an artistic vision".
"We advocate support for the widest possible range of films from the overtly commercial to the overtly arty and much in between," he said.
The government-commissioned review contains 56 recommendations for ministers, the British Film Institute (BFI) and the industry to give greater support to UK film-makers.
"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," Lord Smith said.
The report said an annual British Film Week could "re-establish the brand of the British film".
It could "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".
It also called for "film clubs, festivals, pop-ups, rural community venues or digitally equipped modern cinemas" to give more opportunities to see movies, especially outside of London.
And it urged the government to make it a criminal offence to record films shown in cinemas.
It notes that "90% of unlawful copies of films" made available before official DVD releases "originate from illicit recordings made in cinemas".
People who make recordings in cinemas can currently be prosecuted under the 2006 Fraud Act but the film industry believes the legislation is too complex - a conviction requires proof that the person intends to distribute their recording for profit.
The report also recommends a programme to "bring film education into every school", investment in digital technology to make films more widely available and improved broadband speeds to boost the legal market for online films in the UK.
It says that, on traditionally quiet times at cinemas, a wider range of British and independent films should be shown.
Other recommendations include:
- More family films (the report says they account for 14% of Hollywood movies compared with 2% of British productions)
- More investment in films from TV broadcasters
- That a proportion of funding for lottery-backed films should be used to invest in "new and diverse talent" (the report says "only 12% of writers and 13% of directors of British films are female, and in London only 7% of the workforce is of ethnic origin")
- A share of the profit for writers, directors and producers if their film becomes a hit
The report follows last year's abolition of the UK Film Council with funding responsibilities passed over to the BFI.
In a statement, the BFI welcomed the report "against the backdrop of a record year for British film and film talent" saying it "rightly places audiences at the heart of future UK film policy".
"We share the exciting ambition to drive a vibrant and prosperous future for British film and offer audiences excellence and choice," it added.
It said the BFI had "enjoyed a fruitful dialogue with Chris Smith" and that the recommendations would "help inform and define the BFI's forward plan in support of the whole film sector".
The government and the BFI have two months in which to make formal responses to the review.
The British Film Commission, which encourages the production of international films in Britain, said the report confirmed that "the UK's highly-skilled, film-making talent represent some of the best in the business".
Last week, Mr Cameron said the British film industry "should aim even higher, building on the incredible success of recent years".
Reacting to the prime minister's assertion that the industry should support "commercially successful pictures", Ken Loach said: "If everyone knew what would be successful before it was made, there would be no problem.
"What you need to do is fund a lot of different, varied projects and then you'll get a really vibrant industry."
British-made box office successes include The Inbetweeners movie which earned more than £45m last year.