Film Distributors’ Association urges investment for UK productions

In a keynote speech to the UK film industry last week Lord David Puttnam of Queensgate CBE, President of Film Distributors’ Association, stressed the importance of continued support and public investment in UK production.

Puttnam urged support for film distribution during this Olympic year and beyond, to allow UK cinema admissions and box-office to continue to flourish.

In announcing publication of the FDA Yearbook 2012, the release of a new cinema trailer highlighting British achievement in film, Lord Puttnam said on Tuesday, “The FDA Yearbook is packed with evidence and comment on an outstanding, modern, success story: a copyright-based business sector – in this case, film distribution – which delivers significant economic, social and cultural benefits to Britain and the wider world.

“The key to the digital future – or rather, the present – lies in forging new models, creating and sustaining new relationships with audiences. Here in Britain, we want our creative industries to remain at the forefront of the digital economy.  A vital step for the technology sector is to signpost legitimate search options far more clearly and to delete links to sites that promote illegally sourced content.  If the UK is to get a new Digital Copyright Exchange emerging from the Hargreaves and Hooper reviews, I hope the Government will ensure that it focuses solely on information to assist licensors and licensees to link up, rather than attempting to reinvent the wheel that is commercial trading.”

Lord Puttnam also called for a new public information campaign, once the various government-backed reviews of aspects of copyright have run their course, to illustrate the role of copyright in enabling the creative industries to develop, attract jobs and investment, and deliver valuable experiences to audiences.   Intellectual Property is one of the areas in which the UK really flourishes with over 10% of national exports being derived from the creative industries.

Attention also needs to be paid, said Lord Puttnam, to the ideas being suggested to the European Commission which could result in moving away from a system of licensing rights based on national borders, to one based on the single market, “The UK still needs to do everything it can to ensure that we have a state aid regime that continues to support British film culture and the audiences for British film, just as it has done over the last few years,” he said.

Looking to more local interventions, Lord Puttnam also called upon the BFI to prioritise boosting its funding for film distribution.

“The effectiveness of the Lottery Prints & Advertising Fund for film distribution was spelled out in the Film Policy Review report.  It is the most directly targeted way to connect breakout and specialised films with their audiences and given the Review’s commendable focus on audiences, a clear strategy should be at the heart of the BFI’s forthcoming five-year plan for UK film.”

Recent research, as noted in the independent Film Policy Review report published in January, indicates British audiences respond to British stars and stories. In 2011, the top three films – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, The King’s Speech and The Inbetweeners Movie – accounted for 27 million cinema visits between them.  British films overall achieved a market share of 36.2% of the UK box-office.

A new compilation cinema trailer highlighting British achievement in film including stars and stories coming to cinemas in 2012 was also premiered last week. A montage of clips from 39 current and forthcoming film releases, ranging widely from Anna Karenina to Gambit, The Pirates! In An Adventure with Scientists! to The Dictator, and Prometheus to The Hobbit, the trailer, Film is GREAT, is being offered to all digital cinema screens across the UK.

Commenting on the trailer, Lord Puttnam said: “The season preview compilation trailers produced by FDA on behalf of film distributors are designed to underline the extraordinary variety of films which are available each year at the cinema. I hope this latest collaboration, showcasing many of the British faces and places showing on screens this year, will harness the spirit and energy of 2012 at the movies.”

Proudctions such as Wallace & Gromit will continue to be supported by the British government Chancellor George Osborne revealed in his budget speech on Wednesday as he unveiled a film industry-style tax break to encourage development in the sector.

Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said: “The [Film Distributors’ Association] campaign celebrates all that is fantastic about Britain. UK film is a tremendous success story and I am delighted that we can show off the best of our creative talent through the campaign.”