Radical plan unveiled for boosting British film industry

Story by Jack Foley


A RADICAL plan to rescue the 'fragmented' British film industry has been unveiled by one of the country's leading film-makers, Sir Alan Parker, who is also chairman of the British Film Council.

Speaking as the capital prepared to play host to the Regus London Film Festival, Sir Alan has put forward a long-term scheme designed to save it from decline, including making use of tax breaks to improve distribution of UK films at home and abroad and forging 'strategic alliances' with countries outside of Europe, in order to get UK companies involved in big-budget productions.

The scheme also seeks to provide Britain with the 'best-equipped and most highly skilled and flexible film workforce in the world' and to give Hollywood access to state-of-the-art studios and post-production companies - which already boast an enviable reputation throughout the world.

Finally, Sir Alan hopes to be able to encourage financial bridges with major European film companies.

The director of acclaimed films such as Evita and Mississipi Burning warned that if his plans were ignored, the British film industry would quickly cease to be a major force in global film-making.

Speaking in light of the collapse of Film Four and other events which have knocked the industry this year, he claimed that too much emphasis was being put on making films which are often not great, while not enough is placed on getting the good ones seen on a wider scale.

He also called for improved training for behind-the-scenes workers and new investment to encourage Hollywood studios to shoot more movies over here.

If implemented, the measures could help the UK capture a bigger share of the $60bn (£38bn) global film market that is currently available and place Britain near the top of the film-making league - instead of hovering above its relegation zone.

Sir Alan said that 'the UK film industry is not in need of quick fixes and band-aids' but 'nothing less than radical re-invention'.

Speaking frankly to dismiss current perceptions, Sir Alan went on to call for a rapid expansion of talent, adding that without Lottery money and current tax breaks, there would be no such thing as a British film industry.

He maintained that the industry is 'at a crossroads', faced with the choice of retreating 'back to 'little England', or mounting 'a sustained assault on wider horizons'.

Sir Alan also pointed towards the publication of a recent report which showed that the number of UK films produced has fallen by 40%, at the same time as a 57% fall in overseas investment.

In responding to the comments, however, the government's Film Minister, Kim Howells, refused to commit to any backing, merely responding that he looks forward to working with other government departments and the Film Council and to taking an active role in discussing the proposals.

He did, however, point out that the government had already helped by providing tax breaks and setting up the Film Council, which had backed world-wide hits such as Gosford Park and Bend It Like Beckham.

Pictures show Brit hits Gosford Park (top) and About A Boy (right)...

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