Nevill's remarks come in the wake of the BFI's announcement late last month that it has 'entered into discussions with a number of external partners to take over' its book publishing arm. The BFI director was also keen to address concerns raised by academics about the likely future of the BFI National Library, which may be housed - at least temporarily - outside the Institute.
'No matter what you do in the BFI, the world is passionate about it,' Nevill said of the intense discussion and lobbying prompted by the news of the BFI's 'realignment'. 'The responses are based on a conjecture that it is all going to be much worse, which I don't think it is.'
Cash is certainly an issue. The BFI's grant-in-aid of $31.5m (£16m), administered by the UK Film Council, has been at a standstill for four years.
There are no signs it will increase in the near future.
'We are heading toward a very challenging financial climate along with all the other big national cultural institutions,' Nevill told ScreenDaily.com. Confirming that there will be some job losses ('we can't avoid that'), Nevill stated that the BFI remained 'really, really robust about our ambitions going forward.'
With money tight, the Institute has been looking to lever its funding and to strike new alliances with partners to handle activities like publishing. 'We arguably don't need to do this any more if we can get an outside person who can continue this,' Nevill said of the publishing arm. 'We would still have that cultural input by an editorial board but we don't need to run it ourselves.'
The long-term vision is for the Library and the BFI's special collection (which includes donations from Carol Reed, David Puttnam, Joseph Losey, Derek Jarman, Michael Balcon and many others as well as a collection of over 20,000 unpublished film and TV scripts) to be housed at a new National Film Centre.
In the short term, Nevill confirmed that the BFI is 'actively in talks with potential partners in the higher education sector' to take on the Library's holdings.
'We are not closing the Library,' Nevill emphasised. 'Most of the people who use the Library are students and we love them to death...in my heart, I want the Library to be in a great place where it is even more enjoyable for the audiences that currently use it. '
The BFI is currently lobbying for support (and financing) for its long-planned move to a new national 'Film Centre' where all its activities can be housed.