The British Film and Television Industries - Communications Committee Contents

Memorandum by Film and Television Freelance Training (FT2)

  FT2 was set up in 1985 by employer bodies and unions in feature film production in response to the film studios going "four walled" and the loss of staff positions and traditional studio-based apprenticeships. It quickly became apparent that for freelance crew to be economically viable they needed to be able to work on TV drama as well as feature films and commercials. FT2's brief is to provide, on behalf of the film and television industry, apprenticeship-style training preparing production, craft and technical new entrants with the skills, industry knowledge and industry contacts to launch successful freelance careers as assistants in their department. Central to this mission is our equal opportunities policy and our brief to assist the industry improve the diversity of the workforce. We have a good track record of supporting women in technical areas, people from ethnic minority backgrounds and people with disabilities into careers in the film and television industry. Case studies of FT2 graduates can be found on our website

1.  What do the UK film and television industries currently contribute to the UK economy and British culture? In what ways might this contribution be enhanced?

Feature films and television programmes are a key component of the cultural material readily available the British public. People of all ages enjoy cinema visits, DVDs regularly provide entertainment for families and individuals and the television is a daily source of news, information and cultural entertainment. It is vital that more people from diverse backgrounds are supported to enter and progress in the industry. What appears on the screen is influenced by the people behind the camera and it is important in a multi-cultural society that talent from all sections of the community is encouraged and developed.

5.  Is the current business infrastructure in the UK conducive to the acquisition of the managerial and technical skills required by the film and television industries? Is the business environment conducive to the emergence of entrepreneurial talent, which can take advantage of opportunities in the creative industries?

Freelance employment and companies being formed for a particular project and then disbanded pose particular challenges to the development of skills and talent in this sector. The current stop-start pilot based approach to public funding support for training is also an issue. For the sector to be healthy we believe a constant drip feeding of new talent across all departments is required. Quality training employing industry practitioner trainers and using industry standard equipment is expensive. Public funding is too offered geared to a throughput of large numbers of young people at minimum per capita costs. There is a danger that this approach will raise expectations that cannot then be translated into jobs.

6.  How successful has the regulatory system been in supporting UK content in television? Are there particular types of programming, such as drama, children's or factual programming, for which more support is needed? Could more be done through regulation or incentives, for example, to encourage non-public service broadcasters to commission original UK content? Might financial measure, such as industry levies, be feasible and effective?

High quality UK production across all genres (drama, entertainment, regional and national news, factual, children's programming etc) has been appreciated, respected and purchased around the world. Economic downturns put the funding of high quality programmes, particularly drama, under threat. Financial mechanisms that support the ongoing production of high end, high budgeted productions are vital if the UK film and television industry is to continue as a world leader.

19 March 2009

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