Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Written Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Cine Guilds of Great Britain

  The Cine Guilds of Great Britain (CGGB) is an organisation which brings together the major "craft" Guilds of the British film industry, thereby representing in excess of 1,500 highly qualified and highly respected practitioners in their various fields. Its constituent (member) Guilds are:

AMPSThe Association of Motion Picture Sound Sound Technicians and Editors
BFDGBritish Film Designers Guild Set Designers
BSCBritish Society of Cinematographers Lighting Cameramen/Directors of Photography
GBCTGuild of British Camera Technicians Camera Operators/Crew
GBFEGuild of British Film Editors Film and Sound Editors
GLMGuild of Location Managers Location Managers
GSACGuild of Stunt and Action Co-ordinators Stunt Co-ordinators

  Neither the Directors' Guild nor the Writers' Guild is eligible for membership as both act as "trades unions" for their members in some areas of activity, which is a specific disqualification under the Constitution of the CGGB. We do, however, maintain regular contact with the Production Guild, the New Producers' Alliance, BECTU, Skillset and other film "craft" organisations, as well as the DCMS itself and the serving Film Minister.

  Sadly, despite our best efforts to initiate a dialogue with the UK Film Council, our approaches have been rebuffed and we have found that as an organisation we are consistently omitted from mailings on topics relating to policy and development for the UK film industry.

  We are almost certainly not unique in this, but we consider it particularly unfortunate because—as is clear from the information above—the CGGB is the only organisation in the UK whose members are working primarily, if not solely, in the Motion Picture Industry, (as opposed to Television) and which is therefore dedicated to making Feature Films comparable to and competitive with those produced in the US. It is important to note, however, that while in each instance the end result is a film made by UK technicians working in or from the UK, the majority of the funding for these projects comes from US sources, and therefore they are not, financially, "British Films".

  Membership of the various CGGB Constituent Guilds is based on the quality of work produced for and seen by the viewing audiences and the Guilds of the CGGB are actively involved in promoting training for work in the industry. Between them, members of these Guilds have thousands of years of experience in the industry; they are all greatly concerned about the problems of the currently ageing workforce, and the need to bring on new talent within their specific fields.

  A major problem in this area arises from the fact that the members of a film unit work closely together for a limited period of time, generally to very tight deadlines, and financially they cannot afford to "carry passengers". Therefore a person who is known by others on the team to be competent and who will fit in with the rest of the team will inevitably be selected over someone who is not known to anyone on the crew.

  In our view it is essential to find ways of getting trainees known to technicians and crews working in the business as early as possible—preferably during their training period. The CGGB—and its member Guilds—have proposed two ways of achieving this:

    —  more funding for proper "trainee" placements on crews—as provided by schemes such as FT2 and the SIF Network; and

    —  more working professionals getting involved in the training courses.

  The first is simple to achieve, in that the procedures are already in place, but the funding needs to be expanded.

  The second is more difficult; it involves persuading the training providers (the colleges) to make use of the skills and experience of the (in particular) Guild members who are willing, anxious and indeed almost desperate to pass on their accumulated knowledge and skills to a new generation of film professionals. They (the Guilds) recognise that this almost certainly means "training the trainers" and supporting short courses to enable the professionals working in the industry to be more effective as teachers.

  Most of these professionals would not wish to become full-time teachers—and indeed it would not be desirable that they should. But more interaction between the working industry and the training providers would help to ensure that students graduating have the necessary skills to actually work alongside others already in the industry—and also that those students are less "unknown quantities" than is inevitably the case at present.

  In furtherance of the second aim the CGGB has recently (11 June) met with a director of the developers of the new Studio at Leavesden, in Hertfordshire, at the request of DCMS, to discuss incorporating into their plans the necessary elements that would be required for this studio development to become a primary Centre of Excellence—a "Royal Academy"—for the UK Motion Picture Industry. A copy of a letter dated 26 March 2003 sent to the then Minister for Film outlining this approach is attached to this submission.

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