David Puttnam Outlines Priorities for Developing U.K. Film Audiences

Ahead of the Film Policy Review, Puttnam calls for "a really smart digital-age film policy, focused on the varying needs of diverse audiences."

LONDON – David Puttnam, president of the I.K.'s Film Distributors’ Association, on Tuesday called for all those engaged in influencing film policy in the U.K. to address a particular set of priorities in the coming months if the industry is to continue to grow and deliver to audiences.

In a keynote speech to the distribution sector Puttnam said: “If film is to continue to thrive, it is vital that the Film Policy Review and the BFI create a policy blueprint that considers how the demand for film is created in the first place.”

Puttnam’s call to action comes at a timely moment for the film industry as the independent Film Policy Review being undertaken by former Culture Secretary Chris Smith and a panel of industry experts prepares to announce a new policy framework for the U.K. film sector.

During his speech, Puttnam also highlighted the success of two initiatives in stimulating audiences – Orange Wednesdays and National Schools Film Week – both backed by the U.K. theatrical sector. He also announced the creation of a new resource for teachers which will enable film to play a more important role in delivering the primary and secondary school curriculum in 2012.

On to the challenges facing the film industry, Puttnam continued: “This autumn, the film industry finds itself at a kind of ‘pivot point’. That is to say, a fast-approaching set of milestones and decisions that could shape its destiny for years to come. What’s imperative is that a really smart digital-age film policy, focused on the varying needs of diverse audiences, emerges over the coming months.

“It’s crystal clear that over the next four or five years, as the new policy runs its course, the very nature of our film economy will shift significantly. For U.K. cinema to remain as relevant and vibrant as it is today, the key is to nurture its consumers, taking nothing for granted, never for one moment assuming that content and audiences will somehow connect by accident, luck or osmosis. The key lies in appreciating how that demand is created in the first place.

“There has never been a greater need for professional marketing and distribution. The expertise to position and promote specific content distinctively will remain as essential in digital domains as they’ve been in any other. Skilful and effective distribution, in and of itself, can dramatically add value to a movie. Those core principles remain intact whatever the form of delivery.”