Entertainment & Arts

Industry reacts to abolition of UK Film Council

Image caption Clockwise from top left: The Last King of Scotland, Vera Drake, Fishtank, Bend It Like Beckham, In The Loop, Nowhere Boy - all of which had UK Film Council funding.

Figures from the British film industry have given their reaction to the government's decision to scrap the UK Film Council.

Tim Bevan, Chairman of the UK Film Council

Abolishing the most successful film support organisation the UK has ever had is a bad decision, imposed without any consultation or evaluation. People will rightly look back on today's announcement and say it was a big mistake, driven by short-term thinking and political expediency. British film, which is one of the UK's more successful growth industries, deserves better.

Our immediate priority now is to press the government to confirm that the funding levels and core functions that are needed to underpin British film are locked-in, especially at a time when filmmakers and film companies need more support than ever as they make the challenging transition into the digital age. To that end, we will work with the DCMS over the summer to identify how they can guarantee both continuity and safe harbour for British film.

Ben Bradshaw, Shadow Culture Minister

The Labour government was already streamlining and reducing the number of quangos, but, like so much of what this government is doing, this appears hasty, ill thought-though and incoherent.

For example, the UK film industry has just had its best year ever, earning millions for our country, but the government is axing the UK Film Council without saying what or who will do its important work.

Chris Atkins, documentary film-maker

UK FILM COUNCIL ABOLISHED! Fabulous day! I wonder what 70 incompetent overpaid bureaucrats are going to do? I could use a couple of runners.

[It had] far more misses than hits. Funded Sex Lives Of Potato Men, U2 3D, 4321, Rolling Stones, St Trinian's, I could go on... (via Twitter)

Lord Puttnam, President, Film Distributors' Association

Today's announcement proposing the abolition of the UK Film Council, which would appear to have come out of the blue, will take some time to digest fully.

Over the past decade, the Film Council has been a layer of strategic glue that's helped bind the many parts of our disparate industry together. It is sure to be widely missed, not least because the UK cinema industry is in the midst of a fundamental transformation at the heart of which is digital roll-out.

On the welcome premise that government and lottery support for film will continue, I look forward to discussing ways in which a new, coherent plan for film can be developed and implemented to benefit audiences throughout the UK

Mike Goodridge, editor Screen International

It is a stunning blind side and a shocking blow. It feels like a terrible betrayal of the industry. The UK Film Council has done a good job of slimming itself down so it is a disturbing day.

The UK Film Council has spent the last 10 years establishing the value of film to the economy and this feels like a dismantling of that by the government.

Abolishing the UK Film Council means there is no coherent funding strategy and it leaves an industry at sea for the next six months. How will funding continue without the structure and how much money will be available? Is the government talking about cutting funding as well?

The UK Film Council does a lot more than just distributing funding. It has done a lot for expanding the distribution of of British films and the advancement of new platforms. It has been a big supporter of digital cinema.

This decision is a shock to everyone at the Film Council, it feels like a political manoeuvre and does not show commitment to the film industry by the British government.

Daniel Barber, film director, Harry Brown

I think this decision is a retrograde step, but then I think there hasn't been a great history in this country of helping British filmmakers make films.

Successive governments don't seem to have thrown themselves behind the industry in any significant way. They may like the glamour of it, and hanging out with the stars at parties, but for a filmmaker to get the money to make actually make a film is very difficult. The UK Film Council is one place for young filmmakers to go to and get support, and if this decision means that support is going to disappear then I think it is real blow to film in this country.

Harry Brown was my first feature, and the funding I received from the UK Film Council really helped us get the rest of the investment we needed. As an artist, this decision doesn't fill me with belief that the government is keen to back the UK film industry.

John McVay, Chief Executive, Pact, UK independent film producers' trade body

We strongly welcome the coalition's commitment to the two most important interventions in the market, namely the National Lottery funding and the film tax credit.

These both ensure that we can produce indigenous feature films and also attract inward investment which, combined, sustain our vibrant, dynamic and successful film industry and we look forward to working with the government as they develop their thinking on how this essential public support will be delivered in future.

Martin Spence, General Secretary, Bectu union

This decision is economically illiterate and culturally philistine. Film is an export success story - we sell British production skills throughout the world. And film is also a crucial cultural resource. But the industry is desperately fragmented and long experience tells us that it needs a national agency to achieve its potential.

This is all about politics. It's all about Jeremy Hunt and Ed Vaizey playing tough. And meanwhile the film industry - and the thousands of workers who make their living within it - will pay the price.

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