The UK Film Council and the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) is calling on the film industry to expand digital distribution, seek new sources of funding and work with online audiences as publishers not just viewers, as part of series of findings from their digital innovation programme.

The recommendations are part of the Take 12 digital innovation programme, which was launched last July, and aim to help the industry to take advantage of new technology and distribution methods. It will be released at the Edinburgh International Film Festival today (June 23).

The interim findings are: 

  • Film companies should see online audiences as participants, authors, contributors and publishers as well as just viewers, and use this to their advantage
  • Directors, writers and actors should be encouraged to write a blog or Twitter, to engage audiences in the film-making process
  • Free tools such as Google Blog Search and Twitter should be used to track the performance of campaigns by monitoring site visits and bookmarks. But popularity should not be mistaken for financial success.
  • Companies should be wary about giving away potential revenue in return for digitisation costs, and instead look into getting it done themselves.
  • The aim should be to sell content to as many platforms as possible and to keep the deals non-exclusive or for short exclusive periods.
  • Film-makers should look to new sources of funding. Brands and content creators are potential sources, as in the case of Shane Meadows’ Somers Town, which was financed by Eurostar.
  • Companies should think about what would make audiences pay for content, and the principle of ‘added value’ in the form of quality of experience.
  • The whole industry is still learning and there is no perfect online campaign, so experimenting is the key.

The Take 12 programme is working with 12 independent film companies with specialist ‘innovation partners’ over a period of 18 months to try and improve their potential for growth using digital technology and new methods of distribution.  Companies taking part include Warp Films, Revolver Entertainment, Metrodome and B3 Media.

John Woodward, chief executive of the UKFC, said: “The findings and recommendations of the Take 12 companies will make an invaluable contribution to the way we unlock, make and consume film in a fully digital Britain. With continued political and pan-industry support, we must grasp the enormous possibilities digital world offers and ensure that it benefits everyone.”

Jon Kingsbury, Director of Creative Economy at NESTA added: “The Take 12 programme allows us to test how traditional business models can be adapted for emerging digital technologies. Feeding back these learnings to the rest of the industry will help ensure independent film companies are well equipped to take advantage of the exciting new opportunities that a Digital Britain presents.”

The guide will be distributed to films companies attending the EIFF, as well as other business support agencies across the UK and is downloadable at the NESTA website.