U.K. Film Industry Gets Commercial Clarion Call From Prime Minister David Cameron
Local players are praised for contribution to economy and culture but less reliance on Hollywood studios could be developed.
LONDON – British prime minister David Cameron called for U.K. producers to be more ambitious and to help deliver more “commercially successful pictures” that are not bankrolled by Hollywood studios.
Cameron also praised the British film industry for what he described as an “incalculable contribution” to the local culture but said it need to be more ambitious and “aim higher.”
Cameron told the media: “'Our [government] role, and that of the British Film Institute, should be to support the sector in becoming even more dynamic and entrepreneurial, helping U.K. producers to make commercially successful pictures that rival the quality and impact of the best international productions.”
Cameron’s comments, made ahead of his visit to studio facility Pinewood, home to the 007 sound stage, comes as the industry gears up to learn what is in the long-anticipated Film Policy Review Group report.
“Just as the British Film Commission has played a crucial role in attracting the biggest and best international studios to produce their films here, so we must incentivise U.K. producers to chase new markets both here and overseas,” Cameron said.
The prime minister also noted the British film industry had made "a £4 billion contribution to the U.K. economy.
British Film Commission chairman Iain Smith, thanked Cameron for his praise for the work of his organ.
“Following another busy and potentially record breaking year for inward investment, it is reassuring to hear the government understands the role big budget, international movies shooting in the U.K. plays in building a world-class skilled workforce, while boosting the U.K. economy.” Smith said.
“With superb acting talent, crew and post production expertise, state of the art facilities, and the lucrative film tax relief, the British Film Commission promotes the U.K.’s competitive edge internationally to ensure we retain our position as one of the world’s most popular filming destinations.”
But filmmaker Ken Loach, speaking on BBC television Tuesday morning, reiterated his long-held view of the importance of having as diverse a film industry as possible.
"If everyone knew what would be successful before it was made, there would be no problem," Loach told the Beeb. "What you need to do is fund a lot of different, varied projects and then you'll get a really vibrant industry.”
The chins are really beginning to wag as movie industry players, funders, distributors and government ministers anticipate the findings of the long-anticipated Film Policy Review Group report, due Jan. 16.
The U.K. Film Policy Review group -- chaired by former culture secretary Chris Smith with names including producer and BFC chair Smith and Sony’s Michael Lynton on it -- has taken exhaustive submissions from all sectors of the industry.
Water cooler chat and media speculation includes a tip that the report will likely rommend a hike in Lottery money for British film productions “with potential,” as well as developing an export strategy for homegrown talent.
Having shuttered the U.K. Film Council and turned over much of its duties to the British Film Institute and Film London, the government is now looking for a positive spin to buoy the U.K. industry at large.