Greg Dyke: ‘UK industry needs to regroup’; announces record LFF attendances

BFI Chairman Greg Dyke gave an impassioned speech at the 54th  BFI London Film Festival Awards ceremony on Wednesday evening (Oct 27), during which he envisaged “a new age for filmmaking in Britain.”

Despite the government’s recent announcement of a 15% reduction in BFI funding Dyke struck a positive note throughout his address to an audience of industry top brass at the LSO St Luke’s Church in London.  He urged a positive outlook for the BFI and the industry as a whole:

“This is not time to be depressed because of a few cuts in government funding for film. For the BFI, hard as that will be, it’s a time to be excited.”

While Dyke acknowledged that he was known primarily as a “TV man”, he flagged the importance of “establishing an even better environment so that creativity can thrive in the UK film industry”.

Dyke stressed the importance of a united front in the face of government cuts, and the need for the industry to remain positive and active: “I see the potential for a new age in filmmaking here in Britain. We’re an industry with a turnover of nearly £7bn, our film culture is strong and we have an extraordinary wealth of creative talent. Britain is a great place to make films. What we have to do is look to the future and not dwell on the past. The industry needs to regroup and work together to ensure the success of film in the UK in years to come.”

Dyke recognised the impact impending cuts will have on the BFI, but also spoke of his relief that the cuts were not more severe: “We’re living in difficult times. We acknowledge that tough decisions need to be made at a time of enormous cuts. The recent spending round was not as hard for the BFI as we had feared – though that may be tactical - but the 15% cut in the BFI budget still gives us very difficult challenges.”

Dyke remained optimistic about the BFI’s future: “When I look around us at all the great things that the BFI is doing I don’t see doom and gloom for film it the UK, I see success.”

And he urged confidence in Culture Minster Ed Vaizey’s pledge that lottery funding and the UK tax credit would remain in place, saying that the industry should “back” the government’s assurances.

The BFI Chairman also announced that, as of Tuesday, the 2010 festival, which closes tonight with Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours had surpassed last year’s record attendance of over 130,000 filmgoers.

Indeed, the year to date has been one of the BFI’s most successful in terms of admissions. Between April and September 2010 the BFI Southbank recorded its highest number of paid admissions, and between January and March the BFI IMAX achieved the same feat.

In a statement released on Tuesday BFI Director Amanda Neville acknowledged the significance of the record numbers of BFI filmgoers: “The BFI has had an exceptional year in a time of enormous change. A successful film industry goes hand in hand with a thriving audience culture so it’s hugely encouraging that the BFI is engaging more people than ever on so many different platforms.”