At next week’s annual Screen Film Summit (Dec 10), several of the key figures in the UK film industry will address the challenges and issues facing their various sectors, from production and distribution to exhibition and digital.
But we’ll also hear independent producers, financiers and commissioners (such as Channel 4’s Piers Wenger) discuss the opportunities, not least for the former with the increasing crossover into television.
And we’ll celebrate the success stories, with Studiocanal and Curzon Artificial Eye presenting marketing case studies on two highly successful 2015 UK releases: Legend and 45 Years respectively.
This is important - to celebrate the vitality, creativity and brilliance of an industry that each year can create so much thrilling, life-enhancing entertainment. While there are challenges, it’s great to hear innovative industry players accentuating the positives.
From pressures on the theatrical window to the collapse of DVD to sales agents and producers struggling to cast their projects as actors disappear from the market into franchise and TV-land, the issues are serious and need addressing.
The marketplace is dictating many of the pressures, although not helped when the EU announces plans to create a digital single market, with the threatened end of territoriality that implies.
However, even with its push on portability, the European Commission now seems to understand the collapse of territoriality would be seriously problematic for the European film industry, and the only winners from that would be the big aggregators.
The message has surely been received that such moves would probably be counterproductive to its stated aim, which is to embellish and deepen film culture and commerce in the EU. It now seems to understand that film industry objections weren’t just protectionist, they were raising the alarm on the genuine repercussions such moves would create.
Also looking at positives, the recent 8% cut to the British Film Institute’s grant-in-aid budget is practically cause for jubilation and a sign that even in its age of austerity, the UK’s Conservative government recognises how valuable a thriving creative sector has become for economic health.
While no budget loss is desirable, the BFI was drawing up contingency plans for far deeper cuts.
I’m delighted they can put those plans back in the drawer. BFI Film Fund chief Ben Roberts will no doubt speak about this at the Film Summit’s panel on film funding.
He will be joined on the day by his BFI colleagues Isabel Davis, who will discuss opportunities in international co-production, and Sean Perkins, head of the BFI’s research and statistics unit, who will present a report on changing UK audience habits.
In the latest issue of Screen, we analyse the UK box office so far in 2015. It’s been a rudely healthy year in terms of volume but with only five female directors in the top 100.
Looking at the silver lining, that is an increase of three from 2014 and two of them are British: Sarah Gavron for Suffragette and Sam Taylor-Johnson for Fifty Shades Of Grey.
There is clearly still a very long way to go, and industry diversity - an issue Screen has highlighted for many years - will also be addressed at the Summit in a panel featuring John Boyega’s agent, Femi Oguns.
The film business is an industry that likes to get together and socialise, where face-to-face interaction is crucial to getting films made, sold and distributed. It also adds a huge element of enjoyment to this business and it’s a key part of why we all love it so much.
I hope to see many of you at the Screen Film Summit on December 10.
Matt Mueller is editor of Screen International