Chris Smith’s excellent Review on the film industry offers an important opportunity for the Government to give the film industry the support it needs and deserves, and to welcome a new era for British film.
It is vital that the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, ensures that the Government not only responds to this Review, but also acts upon it with a joined-up approach. Both the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, and BIS Secretary, Vince Cable, will need to play vital roles to support the Review’s emphasis on film education and skills.
The last Labour Government oversaw the development of a Skills Investment Fund, which ensured that Britain became a world leader in creating talent and skills for all our Creative Industries, and provided the climate for the world’s first national film skills strategy in 2004.
Jeremy Hunt must build on this commitment and ensure that the next generation of film makers learn the skills they need in Secondary School, Further Education and Higher Education. In an increasing digital age, Britain needs to move with the times.
Providing for education in film will broaden every child’s education, helping to build the audiences of the future and nurture the talent which will sustain it.
The film industry is important throughout the UK - in Scotland, Wales and the English regions – and plays a part in all of our lives. As the Review identified, the average person will watch 80 films a year proving that we really are a nation of film-lovers.
It will be important for the Culture Secretary to ensure the Treasury continues to support the Film Tax Credit which helps our film industry lead worldwide.
This Government needs to look carefully at the recommendations of the panel, to ensure that they support films and film-making in Wales, Scotland and throughout the English regions. Despite the setbacks created by the Government’s abolition of the Regional Development Agencies, a combined and joined up approach will be built upon by the Regional Screen Agencies.
The Review offers the Government a chance to move on beyond the destabilisation created by their abolition of the UK Film Council, without consultation or warning, and by the confusion caused by David Cameron's misleading spin about the report last week.
The Film Industry here in the UK provides a vital backbone for cinema around the world. Our skills in special effects, animation, set design and costume design are unparalleled, and our creative talent has produced some of the best known and inspired films of this generation.
It is a huge asset for us and is at the heart of our artistic and cultural identity. This Review builds on that achievement and will be the first step to ensuring Britain’s continued success in film. The Government must take the Review forward and act on it.
Dan Jarvis MP, Labour’s Shadow Culture Minister, said:
“After 18 months of limbo in Government policy for the Film Industry following the Government’s abolition of the UK Film Council, we now have a set of proposals and initiatives from Lord Smith which will create a positive future for the sector.
The British Film Industry is world leading, and films such as Slumdog Millionaire and The Kings Speech have been massive box office hits across the globe.
“The contribution of British film to our culture is considerable and it plays a part in all of our lives. This Review by the former Labour Secretary of State, Lord Smith, places people at the heart – the people who work in film and all of us who watch film.
“This is an industry we should be proud of not only for the jobs it creates, but also for its defining ideas and ability to push new creative frontiers. The Review recommends that British Film deserves its own brand, and the proposal of a British Film Week will ensure an annual celebration of the skills, talent and creativity within this sector.
“Over the past 40 years Britain has won around 25% of Oscars, despite only producing, on average, 5.5% of box office hits. This is an outstanding achievement and one we should be proud of. Instead of threatening this track record with back to front policies, the Government now needs to listen to Lord Smith’s review and create a climate in which our film industry can continue to flourish.”