The British Film Industry

Institutions and Audiences Learning Booklet two.

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The British Film Industry

British film

A British film is one that is given a certificate to that effect by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport under Schedule 1 of the Films Act 1985.

There are three ways in which a film can qualify as British. It may:

1. Satisfy the new ‘cultural test’ now added into Schedule 1 of the Films Act 1985. This considers four aspects of the cultural contribution of a film: Cultural content (e.g. whether it is set in the UK or its lead characters are UK citizens or residents).

Cultural contribution (e.g. whether the film represents/reflects a diverse British culture, British heritage or British creativity).

Use of cultural hubs (e.g. in post-production or music).

Use of cultural practitioners (e.g. the director, lead actors and so on).

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2. Meet the terms of one of the United Kingdom’s bilateral co-production treaties; or...

3.Meet the terms of the European Convention on Cinematic Co-Production.

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The British Film Institute (BFI): is a charitable organisation established by Royal Charter to: encourage the development of the arts of film, television and the moving image throughout the United Kingdom, to promote their use as a record of contemporary life and manners, to promote education about film, television and the moving image generally, and their impact on society, to promote access to and appreciation of the widest possible range of British and world cinema and to establish, care for and develop collections reflecting the moving image history and heritage of the United Kingdom.

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Category A: Feature films where the cultural and financial impetus is from the UK and where the majority of personnel are British, e.g. This Is England (2006).

Category B: Majority UK Co-productions. Films in which, although there are foreign partners, there is a UK cultural content and a significant amount of British finance and personnel, e.g. Dog Soldiers (2001), which was made by the American company 20th

Century Fox and its British subsidiary company DNA.

Category C: Minority UK Co-Productions. Foreign (non US) films in which there is a small UK financial involvement. Most titles would not appear to be British films to the audience, e.g. Resident Evil (2001), which was a German film but had some British financing.

Category D: American financed, or part financed, films made in the UK. Most titles have a UK cultural content, e.g. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001), which was made by the American Company Warner Bros or Casino Royale (2006), which was made by the American Company MGM.

Category E: American films with some British involvement, e.g. The Bourne Supremacy (2004), which was directed by Paul Greengrass, who is British, features some British actors, such as Paddy Considine and was partly shot in London.

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Categories of British Film:

  1. A domestic (indigenous) U.K. feature is a feature made by a U.K. production company, that is produced fully or partly in the U.K. (BFI category A)
  2. A UK co-production is a co-production (not an inward one) including the U.K. and other country partners usually under the terms of a bilateral co-production agreement or the European conventions of cinematographic co-production.
  3. An inward feature is defined as a feature film that is substantially financed and controlled from outside the U.K. where the production is attracted to the U.K. tax incentives.
  4. An inward feature co-production is an official co-production that originates from outside co-production treaty countries (usually USA) and which is attracted to the U.K. for the same reasons as no.3 (BFI Category D)
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Feature film: the film should be a feature (which we define as over 72 minutes long) and that it was made with the realistic intention of a theatrical release.

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A mere five production companies have dominated the British film industry since 1991, they are:

  • FilmFour.
  • Working Title.
  • PolyGram.
  • BBC Films.
  • Recorded Picture Company.
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UK Film Council: The UK Film Council (UKFC) was set up in 2000 by the Labour Government as a non-departmental public body to develop and promote the film industry in the UK. It is constituted as a private company limited by guarantee governed by a board of 15 directors and is funded through sources including the National Lottery. John Woodward is the Chief Executive Officer of the UKFC.

The UK Film Council has various schemes, each with different budgets:

The Development Fund offers £12m over three years to support the development of a stream of high quality, innovative and commercially attractive screenplays. This fund is the largest of its type in Europe.

The New Cinema Fund: £15 million over three years to back radical and innovative filmmakers, especially new talent, and to explore new electronic production technologies. Its short film schemes have produced over 450 films.

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The Premiere Fund: £24 million over three years to facilitate the production of popular, more mainstream films.

First Light: £1.1m of Lottery funds is set-aside for children and youth film makers.

Skillset: the first ever-comprehensive training strategy for the British film industry was launched in September 2003. A package of measures is being rolled out backed by an investment of around £50 million between 2007 and 2011 which as a whole aim to build a bigger and better future for the film industry in the UK.

The Print and Advertising Fund: of £6 million from 2007-10 to support the distribution of a broader range of films to audiences across the UK.

The Digital Screen Network: A world first providing over £11 million to equip around 240 screens in over 210 cinemas (approximately 1 in 4 cinemas) with state of the art digital projection equipment.

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International: The UK Film Council’s International strategies encourages international productions from outside the UK to come and use Britain’s world-class production and facilities infrastructure; supports UK film export; develops international relations and supports UK production infrastructure.

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Film Facts and Figures

  • The UK film industry now contributes approximately £4.3 billion per year to the UK economy- up by 44% since 2000, when the UK Film Council was created;
  • In 2008 UK films took 15% of the global box office and 31% of the UK box office;
  • UK film grossed £2.3 billion at the worldwide box office last year - up 133% since 2002;
  • UK box-office takings are at record-breaking levels, worth £850 million in the UK in 2008, up 46% from 2000;
  • UK Film Council investments in British films have been hugely successful - for every £1 we have invested, £5 has been generated at the box office;
  • Over 164 million people went to the cinema in the UK in 2008 - up 22 million (15%) from 2000;
  • The UK has more digital screens than any other European country - 3610 and counting;
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  • Overall UK audiences had a far greater choice of films in 2008 - 527 films were released, 34% more than a decade ago;
  • The UK film industry directly provides jobs for almost 35,000 people, with extended employment impact of 95,000 jobs;
  • In 2008 alone, British films and talent scooped 32 awards.
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Charles Devlin


This is great! Would give it a rating but college won't let me (N)

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