In what is likely to be one of his last public appearances as UK Film Council chief executive, John Woodward has made some outspoken remarks about the prospect that Lottery money might be channelled through a UK broadcaster such as the BBC or Channel 4.
Speaking as part of a panel on “Restructuring the film industry and public institutions” at Screen International’s Film Summit 2010 on Wednesday, Woodward described the idea as “complete insanity” and as “a really stupid idea.” He suggested that it would severely reduce producers’ options when it comes to securing financing for their films. “Anybody
who understood anything films would never suggest it.”
John McVay, Chief Executive Officer of producers’ organisation PACT, was in full (and rare) agreement with Woodward, calling the proposal “absolutely barking mad.” McVay said that PACT “wanted three legs to the funding stool” and that plurality and diversity would necessarily be reduced if Lottery money was disbursed via the BBC or Channel 4 rather than through a separate public funder.
Both Woodward (shortly to take a new job as Managing Director of Arts Alliance) and McVay warned of the logistical challenges that it would pose the broadcasters if they were obliged to administer the Lottery fund. Woodward suggested that the Film Council had “served as a lightning rod for everybody’s discontent.” He warned that if the broadcasters were in charge of lottery funding, some of that discontent would inevitably be levelled at them. They would also have to follow an open access programme and set up “the apparatus and machinery” to deal with huge numbers of applications for film funding.
Sue Bruce-Smith, Head of Commercial Development at Film4, pointed out that Film4 had not been “actively pitching” for the Lottery money.