She engenders to uphold U.K. biz:  dialogue with Hilary Bevan Jones

Hertiage, charity are vital to first female chair of BAFTA

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts recently issued an updated mission statement and has appointed a woman chairman for the first time in its 60-year history. High-flying, BAFTA-winning television producer Hilary Bevan Jones ("Cracker") aims to spearhead educational initiatives and wants a new-look restaurant at BAFTA headquarters in central London "to be humming every night." Bevan Jones talked to The Hollywood Reporter U.K. bureau chief Stuart Kemp about her ambitions during the next two years in the hot seat.

The Hollywood Reporter: What is your first challenge in taking on the role as BAFTA chairman?

Hilary Bevan Jones: I think the most important thing is to make sure we embrace all the very positive changes that have happened (in former chairman Duncan Kenworthy's tenure) and to progress while looking back at (BAFTA's) rich heritage. The aims of our founders 60 years ago ? which includes David Lean, Michael Balcon and Alexander Korda ? to make sure we uphold them to support and celebrate excellence in British films.



THR: What role should BAFTA be looking to play in the development of the British film industry?

Bevan Jones: We have just updated our mission statement. We are planning a really broad public outreach into the regions and further afield, outside London.



THR: What is the new mission statement at BAFTA?

Bevan Jones: "To support, develop and promote the art forms of the moving image by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the viewing public."



THR: As a longtime BAFTA stalwart, do you think your chairmanship of BAFTA will have a theme?

Bevan Jones: The main theme I am going to try and push on is our charitable remit and our responsibilities in education. We have just started a strategic review to work alongside existing charities who work in the same ballpark of education. I certainly don't want to mimic existing, well-established organizations working in the same area such as Skillset, but we can collaborate (as an organization) and offer access to our membership. We have 6,500 members, all of whom have pedigree in their chosen field, and I am interested in using the skills and talent to put something back into education. I also want to ensure that it is international, and I am also keen to take the plans across the country as well as abroad and want to ensure it is not London-centric.



THR: As the first woman appointed chairman of BAFTA, do you see that as an important element to your tenure?

Bevan Jones: I am very happy to be the first woman chairman. I am not focusing on the fact I am a woman. To be honest, I think it is kind of irrelevant. I just want to embrace the stewardship of the organization for the two years I am in the chair. Frankly, if I can turn the fact I am a woman to my advantage, then I will. But overall, now that BAFTA has appointed a woman and it has happened, it will not make much difference, I don't think.



THR: How are you going to balance what is considered to be a fairly onerous BAFTA workload with being an independent producer?

Bevan Jones: It is a big commitment and a huge learning curve. What I am doing is treating it like having a couple of other productions on the go at the same time. As my mother always said, "If you want something done, ask a busy person." It is true I won't have much of a social life, but it is only for two years and it is so exciting meeting and working with all these different people. I schedule all BAFTA meetings for either the morning or the evening and manage the demands that way.



THR: Other ambitions while in the chair?

Bevan Jones: BAFTA can't have a political standpoint but we are able to create a platform for debate. The government, spearheaded by Creative Industries minister Shaun Woodward, is very keen for us to create a seminar and invite people on to discuss and debate the future of children's broadcasting. On a lighter note, I also want the restaurant at our recently
comments powered by Disqus