Monday, 26 April 2010

Who's Best for Film?

It seems that the outcome of the election is quite uncertain; and I asked myself today: which of the three main parties would be the best for the film industry? I scanned through each of their manifestos and analysed their past records on the subject.

Their manifesto is very focused on the digital economy, and includes a commitment to broadband for everyone by 2012, and 'super-fast' broadband to 90 percent of the populaion by 2017. There are vague statements about the importance of the creative industries. In terms of their record, its a mixed bag. They did increase funding for the arts by 73% in the last ten years, but they've also cut funds for the Olympics.

The Tories have a pretty bad record - many people in the arts and creative industries remember the dark days of the 1980s where culture was left unfunded and Downing St had no idea what to do with the film industry. Their current manifesto says things like 'we will ammend local media ownership rules' and 'returning the Lottery to its original purpose' - I have no idea what that means.

With no back record to speak of, the Lib Dems have the most attractive policies in their mainfesto, with this particular excerpt quite nice: "Diversions to pay for the Olympics have also lead to a reduction in lottery money available for the arts. We will ensure that National Lottery funding has real independence from government and reassert the ‘arm’s length’ funding principle. We would also change the way the Lottery is taxed to generate more money for good causes. We’d leave it up to artists, musicians, museums and galleries, and crucially the communities they serve, to determine what form culture takes.".

Unfortunately, none of them mention specifically the film industry, which is a pity, given the billions of pounds the business brings to the country, and the prominence that it brings to the UK worldwide in the form of Oscar-winning talent and global blockbuster franchises, from Bond to Potter, to Cannes prize winners Loach and Leigh.
What will it take for politicians to take film seriously?


  1. its funny cos arn't most politicians rich white boys who just hang around with their private school chums and just give jobs to each other (read of that what you will), and isn't that the same for most people who have major influence in UK film industry?....

    you'd think they'd help each other out given they come from the same place!

  2. Good point.

    And interesting post.

  3. Hi Jon,
    Having worked in both the public and private sector within the industry for nearly 20 years, this was a question I asked myself too. Like you, I feel none of the parties is offering any kind of positive message for the film industry. With Labour we are seeing many initiatives run out of steam - savage cuts to the Film Council, regional screen agencies also cut to the bone. I always maintained that the policy of 'throwing money' at the industry was a strategy bound to fail. The agencies themselves are not blameless - the whole set up should have been about promoting and encouraging self-reliance and sustainability, not a a quick fix, bang for buck environment.

    The statement from the UKFC recently about 'artists being the saviours of independent film' was disingenuous - the BFI put their money where their mouth was years ago - otherwise we wouldn't have had the likes of Jarman or Greenaway. For the UKFC (in my opinion) it seemed like an admission that their strategies hadn't worked as they envisioned... how many Lottery funded films are sitting on shelves gathering dust? The one good thing about this is that the crews who worked on them got paid, increased their skills and contacts, lengthened their CVs. but what a very expensive and ultimately demoralising way to do it.


  4. Isn't the most likely new MP for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas, a Dukes member? I'm sure I've heard you mention it before... Maybe it'd be worth lobbying her? In an ideal (though highly unlikely!) scenario, she'd be Environment Minister within a coalition government (until The Glorious Day, obviously...)