UK support body the Film Council and training body Skillset are to launch a major initiative to improve film skills and training in the UK, seen as key to improving the British film industry's worldwide standing.
Stewart Till, deputy chairman of the Film Council and Skillset, and CEO/chairman of UIP, this week launched the first part of the strategy - a mapping report looking at skills across all sectors in the industry - along with Film Council chief John Woodward and Dinah Caine, head of Skillset.
"The main conclusion - with some exceptions - is that it's a pretty barren landscape," Till said of the Developing UK Film Talent report, billed as the most in-depth study of film skills ever produced. "If education training opportunities were better you would attract better people to the industry, and if we could get better people and grow them quicker and smarter, overnight we've got a better workforce. The film industry is simply an aggregate of the quality of the workforce. Our only assets are our people."
In a high profile industry speech late last year, director and chairman of the Film Council Alan Parker highlighted training as key to the sustainability of the UK's film industry.
"What this is," said Woodward, "is the first real step towards tackling that agenda item right on. If we want our industry to thrive in the UK then we have to accept that competing internationally on price alone is not going to do it. We have to be the best in terms of our skills provision."
To this end, the Film Council and Skillset have established a Film Skills Action Group, whose remit is to prepare a comprehensive training strategy using the research. The group, which according to Till will make its report late summer 2003, is made up of Paramount Pictures' Michael O'Sullivan, Working Title Films' Eric Fellner, Odeon Cinemas' Richard Segal and veteran producer David Puttnam, among others.
The working group will make recommendations to the Film Council, Skillset, the industry and the government on all sectors and issues, with recommendations on how those strategies should be funded.
"We'd like to have a strategy that was relevant for at least ten years," Till told Screendaily.com, "and if we got it right the impact would stretch beyond that."
"It's a very good time to be launching this, because it's an industry showing that it knows what it needs and that it's prepared to do something about it," said Skillset's Dinah Caine. "If we get those things right there's a lot of support that's available to underpin what we're trying to do."
The full report is available at www.skillset.org and www.filmcouncil.org.uk