BFI Consultation Roadshow, Manchester, 28 Jun 2016

Today I attended the BFI Consultation Roadshow with Deng MaoHui (University of Manchester) and Fraser Elliott (University of Manchester). Information on the programme is at the end of the post. This post intends to be a quick and brief summary of the issues raised there in the form of bullet points:

Main session:

The main aim of the plenary was to discuss the strategy for the next 5 years after the Film Forever strategic plan. The topics within the talk and the different questions that were raised could be summarised as follows:

  1. Live after Brexit. We were reassured several times over the talk that because of the close ties that the BFI has with European agencies and directors, they are in a strong position to discuss the best outcome for British Film with political leaders. Diversity is also very important and it is at the heart of creativity.
  2. Audiences and British Film: There is the need to attract British audiences to British Films, as they tend to choose studio films. The Film Audience Network has been successful. We need to push British Films into the market.
  3. Careers: There is still a culture of “it matters who you know, not what you know”, which should be changed. At the moment it is still difficult for young people to pursue a career in film and there is no diversity. Initiatives should be put in place for taking film production outside London. There are great places across the country to shoot film and they should be recognised. Opportunities should exist for everyone, everywhere, not just in London. It is difficult to get skills outside London. Belfast was an inspiration for a while but it was America (and Game of Thrones production) that actually did it, not any British initiative. We ought to ensure that there is increased confidence on regional productions. In this respects, cluster funds and Creative England have contributed notably but there is still work to be done, as some producers do not even consider a film seriously if it is not in London. In relation to skills, young people need to be properly trained beforehand as production is not a training ground and skills cannot be taught from scratch.
  4. Curriculum: We should look at the curriculum and see whether the right things are being done. Young people are made to choose very early between art or science, and we need to consider whether this is working for us or not, as skills in the industry are linked to both. Young people do not always arrive properly prepared to work in the industry and apprenticeships are not always the solution, specially in the way these are designed at the moment, as some shootings take place over short periods and it would be difficult to accommodate teaching / demonstrating in this context.
  5. Online platforms These are still dominated by studio or non-British materials. The way that the audiences interact with online platforms tends to be through high quality serialised narratives. What does it mean for BFI? What content should the BFI create or promote and in what platforms? How can we promote the BFI player? Some changes have been done to the BFI Player already, which since February contains a section for educators, where films suitable for 5-19 year olds are categorised together. It was suggested that the BFI Player should include categories related to themes that could be discussed in the classroom. The BFI Player can be found pre-installed in a limited number of hardware devices and there are discussions taking place with regard to this, specially in relation partnerships and including the content in the BBC iPlayer.
  6. Analog content: What should we protect and keep? How can the BFI ensure that there are people with the necessary skills to use them?
  7. Volunteers: There are 9,000 film clubs across schools and community cinemas. We ought to make sure these volunteers are rewarded.
  8. Independent Cinemas: There is a patchwork provision across the UK and not enough outside London. There is a need to have big exhibition spaces.
  9. Funding: Should we fund only films? Should we fund for the screen only, considering the success of online platforms?
  10. Film re-definition: The BFI has started to re-consider what “film” means and there is a preference for the term “moving images”, which would include also TV, VR, interactive games…
  11. Perception of Film and Film Studies: There is more work to do regarding the appreciation of the cultural significance of Film, TV and the Moving Image. Film is essential to our culture.




This session was particularly good. These are the ideas that were discussed:


In summary, these themes were discussed:

  1. Film in Secondary Schools: There should be more visible connections between the BFI and film clubs. This can be not only the use of the logo but also the creation of resources for the classroom that go beyond the Film Studies classroom. Film language and mise-en-scene should be taught to students to learn to decode a film, so they can understand moving images beyond plot summaries. It is important that films are used in the classroom to teach not only film studies but intercultural communication, social sciences content, etc. The resources should have clear objectives for using film and the screening should contribute clearly to learning. Screening films without a clear objective and lesson plan has a negative effect in the perception of film studies as a soft subject. Having a good bank of resources would also make it easier for teachers.
  2. Short film competitions. student projects throughout the year for a BFI short film competition. The BFI player could include all or some of the entries, contributing to a clear implementation of skills and improving young people’s CVs.
  3. Careers:
    • Film education should be clearly linked to jobs. Students go to university without knowing how hard the industry is or without having a realistic view of the jobs that will be available to them.
    • Internships are a good way to get opportunities but there is a shortage of entry level recruits. There is a need to focus on creativity over technical skills.  This could be done also via portfolios, support, CPDs, etc. There could be potentially MOOCs and online courses aimed at older people too, who might want to make career changes.
    • Additionally, maybe it would be a good idea to do “sandwich courses” to bridge courses to jobs.
    • Apprenticeships are good but not every job can have an apprentice. The industry cannot deliver them because sometimes there are just short and quick shootings. This means that the model might need to be reshaped. Additionally, we need to properly inform 16-19 year olds, their parents and the teachers of the apprenticeships opportunities, as some of them get closed for lack of applications.
    • Production and careers need to be available outside London


I do not have complete notes, although I have pictures of the flipchart for 1) Heritage and 2) British Film (below).






Joining in the debate: how the roadshows work

The roadshow will start with a welcome and introduction followed by a brief overview of what we have been doing as part of Film Forever along with a snapshot of our regional activity and support. This will be followed by a general panel and audience discussion centred on our key themes, your priorities and how you want the BFI to make a difference. You will then have a choice to explore the key priorities in greater detail through a choice of two of the following workshops (chaired by the BFI lead named below or a member of their team):

  • Education led by BFI Director of Education Dr Paul Gerhardt
  • Audiences led by BFI Head of UK-wide Audiences Ben Luxford
  • Heritage led by BFI Creative Director Heather Stewart
  • Supporting the future success of British film led by BFI Director of Film Fund Ben Roberts

To register a place for the Manchester roadshow and your choice of workshops, please click on the green REGISTER button above.


12:30pm                Registration opens and lunch served
1.15-2.55pm          Plenary panel session: Discussion and Q+A around themes and priorities
2:55-3.10pm         Mini break
3.10-3.50pm         SESSION ONE: First workshop choice
3.50-4.30pm        SESSION TWO: Second workshop choice
4.30-5pm              Networking reception
5pm                        Event ENDS

Everyone is welcome! Places are limited so please book early. 

Our consultation launches on 24 June and runs on until 8 September 2016 – please do make sure you also let us have your views online.
Tuesday, 28 June 2016 from 12:30 to 17:00 (BST) 
HOME – 2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester, M15 4FN

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