Thenews, following a couple of months after the announcement of a new tax credit, has certainly changed the mood of film-makers.
"Ithink it's really good news," says producer Andrew Eaton, of Revolution Films."It's a double whammy. Having sorted out the tax situation to give us astable future and now this good news from the BBC, it really feelslike the landscape could be significantly changed in the UK film industry."
"This is a big sea change in their attitude towards British film. The BBC is talking about British film in a way they haven't in a long time," Eaton says.
Such praise will be a welcome change for the BBC which has long been criticised in the UK industry for not doing enough to support British films.
The UKFilm Council suggested last year that the BBC should invest $70m (£40m) per year on British film development, production, and acquisition.
While not reaching those heights, investment may reach $52m (£30m) per year, with the BBC noting that the budget could be ramped up incoming years as needed.
ProducerChris Curling, of Zephyr Films added, "It's really important and fantastic news,it's a huge step in the right direction."Tim Grohne of sales company Celsius Entertainment summarized the sentiment from much of the industry when he said, "Spending money is always good, and it is a really useful part of supporting the structure with which more British films can be made."
Mostproducers said that the amount of investment planned was appropriate and were happy that the added £5m acquisition funding would contribute to the acquisition of larger numbers of British films for broadcast, rather thanspending more money per film on Hollywood projects.
But producer Margaret Matheson noted that the budget, while "a big step forward," was only 1% of the BBClicence fee, far less than you'd find from some broadcasters in continentalEurope.
"The numbers are great but it's not earth-shattering," Matheson said."Nevertheless it should be welcomed."
Michael Kuhn of Qwerty Films agreed that it was good news but perhaps not great news. "You don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth," he said. "You want to be encouraging that the BBC is responding to pressure but you don't want to give up on the fact that it's not enough."
Curlinggave thehypothetical example that the BBC would pay £500,000 for TVrights for a particular film, this new budget "could make a significantdifference to 10 British films a year."
Themoney is contingent on the BBC's favourable licence fee negotiations, which areongoing. The increase in funding wouldn't start until April 2007, when the newBBC charter kicks in. "Any step forward is good, but let's not open thechampagne yet," Matheson said of the provisional nature of the announcement.
Many producers agreed that the funding is not kicking in soon enough. Mike Downey and Sam Taylor of Film & Music Entertainment said, "It looks like a good move but the proof will be in the implementation."
Oneproducertold ScreenDaily that there is one potential down side tothe TV acquisitions budget - if British films get a TV deal sooner, thatcan sometimes make them less attractive for theatrical distribution deals.
Butthemajority of industry playersthought that BBC involvement for TV rights could only help a film'schances.
For a film that will have a theatrical window, then "distributorscould be encouraged to take on a film if they know the BBC will acquire the TVrights," says Hilary Davis, head of sales and acquisitions at sales companyBeyond Films.
Eaton agreed that having the BBC attached on a project couldhelp theatrical sales at home and abroad, not hinder them. Revolution's recent Berlinale hit The Road to Guantanamo, for example, has racked up a slew of foreign theatrical sales despite its UK TV deal with Channel 4.
Forfilms that might not reach cinemas anyway, a BBC TV audience is nothing tolaugh at. "If you are not going to get a decent sized theatrical release anywayit is great to get on those eyes on TV," one producer said.
Producersand sales agents said that one thing that still had to be lobbied for was thatany TV deals are struck at fair prices and for a range of diverse films, notjust the types of projects the BBC might have been involved with in the past. "I would guess though that it will go to helping a limited number of producers who have delivered UK films and probably worked with the Beeb in the past," Grohne said.Downey and Taylor also worried that the BBC might "back the same horses" as a funder such as the UK Film Council's Premiere Fund. He said that he'd rather see the BBC invest potentially smaller investment -- say £250,000 -- in 20 films to spread the benefit around. He also cautioned that with the global film business meaning the UK is intricately tied with Europe, backing only culturally British film was "a primitive and retrograde step."
Partof the responsibility lies now with British producers, to make films that willencourage the BBC to continue this investment strategy and even increase it."We as producers have to step up, we can't make crap films that won't find anaudience," Eaton said.Taylor and Downey just hopes that the BBC is ready to work with a diverse range of producers on a diverse range of films. "What I worry about is that there will be more of the same as opposed to a diversification of investment," they said. "That is the great challenge."