Ahead of the visit, Mr Cameron indicated that lottery funding will in future be directed towards more mainstream film with the potential for commercial success, as well as developing an export strategy for the UK. Whilst congratulating the industry on its ‘incalculable contribution to our culture’, he also stated that he wanted film producers to ‘aim higher’ and that he wanted to incentivise them to chase new markets both in the UK and abroad.
He said: ‘Our role, and that of the British Film Institute, should be to support the sector in becoming even more dynamic and entrepreneurial, helping UK producers to make commercially successful pictures that rival the quality and impact of the best international productions.’ This follows one of the most successful year’s for British film, one which saw The King’s Speech take over £250m worldwide at the box office (on a budget of just £9m) and sweep the board at the Oscars.
The British Film Commission has welcomed the plans, with Chairman Ian Smith saying: ”It is reassuring to hear the government understands the role big budget, international movies shooting in the UK plays in building a world-class skilled workforce, while boosting the UK economy.’
However, the Prime Ministers words have met with fury from many in an industry still reeling from Arts Council grants cuts and the abolition of the Film Council. The acclaimed film director, Ken Loach, speaking on BBC Breakfast, said: ‘This is a travesty. If everybody knew what would be successful before it was made, there would be no problem. What you have to do is fund a lot of different, varied projects and then some will be successful, some will be original, some will be creative, and you will get a very vibrant industry.’
A review of the government funding policy is expected to be delivered next week by the former Labour culture secretary, Lord Smith.
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