U.K. facilities brought in $4.1 billion in '08

Screen Association aims to hype behind-the-scenes industry

LONDON -- The U.K. facilities industries accounted for revenues of £2.7 billion ($4.1 billion) and employed 30,000 people in 2008, according to a major new report from the U.K. Screen Association that aims to highlight the importance of the sector.

The report found that the U.K. is host to 1,300 specialized companies as well as inhouse staff in the production sector and reckoned that in terms of "overall economic impact" the sector was worth £4.4 billion ($6.6 billion) to the overall U.K. economy and was responsible for 51,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The report, from the U.K. Screen Association, aims to promote the significance of an industry involved behind-the-scenes on such movies as "Avatar," "Sherlock Holmes" and "The Wolfman," and highlight its contribution to the U.K. economy.

"As a sector we are facing many challenges and we need to ensure these are articulated and understood more widely by government, producers and broadcasters, in order that the sector not only sustains its current success but can realize its potential," said U.K. Screen CEO Gaynor Davenport.

The first stage has been to map the sector -- this is the first time such a comprehensive review has been undertaken in the U.K. -- and the organization will now lobby industry and government to push for greater support for the sector, which brings together post-production, equipment hire, visual effects, graphics, transmission services, studios, outside broadcast and physical effects.

The report found that bulk of U.K. facilities work comes from television, which accounted for 52% of all revenues, while feature film and commercials accounted for 18% each. The fast-expanding games industry is also a growth area, bulking up 83% between 2006 and 2008, but with revenues totaling £4.6 million ($7 million), it still remains small.

The report also found that too few companies within the sector had appreciable scale, with 99% of firms employing fewer than 250 people and 78% employing fewer than 10 people.
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