The Demise of the UKFC
Don't Panic

By Rory O'Donnell


In the last 48 hours there has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth. The demise of the UK Film Council will lead to be the end of the British Film Industry, the closing of local art house cinemas, the closure of the NHS and plagues of locusts.

The first thing to get off my chest is that this move has been declared as coming ‘out of the blue’. This is a bit of a surprise to those of us who sat around a month before the election discussing the Conservatives plans to merge the Film Council with the BFI, or, indeed, the last government’s murmurings about doing the same thing last year. At the time it was the BFI who were worried they would lose out in this merger, subsumed by the bureaucracy of the UKFC. Now it seems that they will be taking on much of the role of the UKFC and distribution of their lottery money (which, according to some sources is to rise from £26 million to £32 million)

It is the word ‘seems’ in the last sentence that is the real source of the panic that has arisen.  What the announcement lacked was an explanation of what will actually be happening now. I can say, with my hand on my heart, that, prior to today, I’ve never heard a kind word about the UKFC during my discussions with any of the independent filmmakers I talk to every day. But it appears to me that it is not a great love of the UKFC that people are reacting to, but to the void that has replaced it.

The UKFC will exist until April 2012. Over the coming 21 months we shall see what replaces it. If a new, streamlined, better-run body emerges, probably under the auspices of the BFI, then the UKFC will be forgotten and unlamented. If, on the other hand, the void remains, or any vital elements of the UKFC are dropped from it’s replacement, then we can look back at the UKFC and wish it had made better use of it’s time in existence.

For now I refuse to mourn. Instead of crying foul and throwing stones we need to make sure that our voice is heard in the planning for the future. Whatever replacement exists in 21 months time needs to have been created with as much input from us as possible.

So my suggestion is, don’t write to your MP demanding the Film Council be saved; instead make your demands and suggestions for what we really need to help continue and revive the industry here. We’ll be happy to receive your ideas in the Raindance bunker.

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About The Author

Rory O'DonnellAfter gaining a Masters degree in Ancient and Medieval History and excavating the most northerly leper colony found in the British Isles Rory took the natural next step of training as an actor. Following a career which including being directed by Stephen Daldry in the West End and shooting aliens on the HMS Belfast he then began making short films and travelling the world until all his money ran out.

Rory first volunteered at the Raindance Film festival in 2000, was print traffic coordinator for the festival in 2008 & 2009. In 2009 he became course director. He also works occasionally as a casting director, with four features and many shorts to his credit.


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