End it like Beckham – Government cuts undermine UK film industry

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is to axe the UK Film Council

WHERE will it all end?

Well, it seems like the cutting room floor will be the final stopping point for the UK Film Council.

The Council is to be axed as part of a cost-cutting drive by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

How typically English. Inject enough cash to finance an organisation which actually helps launch the careers of some of the UK’s best actors and directors and produces some of our most successful movies, then pull the rug out from underneath it.

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt confirmed the move, which is part of a raft of DCMS cost-cutting measures that will see 16 public bodies merged, streamlined or got rid of altogether.

Mr Hunt said: “In the light of the current financial situation, and as part of our drive to increase openness and efficiency across Whitehall, it is the right time to look again at the role, size and scope of these organisations.”

The Film Council was founded in 2000 by the Labour government to develop and promote the British film industry.
The organisation has dished out some £160m into more than 900 films over the last 10 years, including Bend It Like Beckham, The Last King of Scotland and…err…StreetDance 3D.

Let’s forget StreetDance 3D for a moment shall we? We all make mistakes. Let’s look at the other two instead. Bend It Like Beckham grossed millions around the world as it topped box office charts and launched the career of one Keira Knightley. None too shoddy an affair I’m sure you’ll agree. The Last King of Scotland gave Shameless star James McAvoy one of his first leading movie roles and made him the Hollywood name he is today. Another hit then.

So, while everyone agrees that a successful British movie industry relies on producing a steady stream of quality new actors as well as encouraging new directors and, not to put too fine a point on it, actually making some real money, the moneymen inside the hallowed halls of Whitehall see the UK Film Council as an unnecessary expense.

How short-sighted. Another asset that makes Britain ‘Great’ is gone forever.

The movie business makes money for all the connected industries, be that catering, transport, toursim and bolsters the national economy. It’s not just filling the pockets of those directly involved. Do you believe for a minute that Hollywood would be such a mammoth tourist pull were it not for that fact that the global behemoth of the US movie industry is based there? Of course not. It would still be a sleepy little Californian village in the shadow of a big hill.

UK Film Council chairman Tim Bevan CBE said: “People will rightly look back on this announcement and say it was a big mistake, driven by short-term thinking and political expediency,” he said.

“British film, which is one of the UK’s more successful growth industries, deserves better.”


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