Outgoing UK Film Council chairman Stewart Till cites piracy and the need to create a sustainable film industry as the two biggest challenges facing his successor Tim Bevan.

Speaking just before he attended his final board meeting, Till said: “Going forward by a country mile the biggest challenge is piracy. Only the UKFC can get the Government’s attention to put in place the sort of legislation and procedures that will stop piracy.”

While he welcomes the Government’s response to piracy, outlined in last month’s Digital Britain report, he is critical of certain elements. The report charges UK media watchdog Ofcom and internet service providers (ISPs) with cutting online piracy by 70%. If the target is not met over the next year, Ofcom can use backstop powers to take technical action against repeat offenders.  

He said: “That’s so annoying because we know that 12 months is a complete waste of time. The target of 70%…it would be a miracle if they got 7%.”

Although he believes the UK film industry is in better shape than it was in 2000, he feels there is still a lot of work to be done, particularly on the creation of a sustainable industry. “There are not enough viable independent distribution companies and not enough viable production companies. We haven’t created them yet.”

The UKFC is currently exploring the possibility of giving producers an equity corridor out of the UKFC’s own recoupment corridor. However,with the body facing a 15% ($33m) cut in its lottery funding over the next five years, thanks to the cost of the 2012 London Olympics, such a scheme would see it recoup less money for future investment. The board is to develop a new three year spending plan shortly as the current one ends in 2010.

With a Conservative Government expected in power next year and suggestions from Ed Vaizey, Shadow Arts Minister, that gaming might fall under the UKFC’s remit, the UKFC may see its role expanded.

Commenting on the issue, Till said: “I would be nervous to have a board that covers game and film. You would have people from a computers background having a view on film and vice versa. I would absolutely be nervous that it would become an entertainment board and would loose some of its focus, single mindedness and its knowledge base.”

Prior to his role as Chair of the UKFC, Till was Deputy Chair to Alan Parker. He will now continue in his role as Vice Chair of Skillset and he awaits completion of the due diligence process which is required before Stadium International can complete the purchase of Mel Gibson and Bruce Davey’s Icon Group.

Bevan, co-founder and co-chairman of Working Title Films, takes on the role of Chairman of the UKFC from tomorrow, July 30.