Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1254-1330)|
Mr Dominic Davenport, Ms Sharon Goode, Mr Terry Ilott
and Mr Michael Kuhn
24 JUNE 2009
Q1254 Chairman: Let us begin. Thank
you very much for coming. Michael Kuhn, you know what we are about
because you have been here before. Your other three colleagues
have not been here before but basically what we are about is looking
at the film and television industries to see what proposals and
suggestions there are to improve the industry and the way that
the Government can take any action, if any action is available
to them. Obviously training is one of the most important areas
for any industry. Before we begin, because we have a bewildering
range of talent in front of us, could you just say in a few words
what your organisation does so that we can categorise you. Shall
we begin with Mr Ilott
Mr Ilott: Thank you, Lord Chairman. I am Director
of the Film Business Academy at the Cass Business School. Cass
is the business school of City University. The Film Business Academy
has been going for about three years. It is still in the pilot
Q1255 Chairman: And you are business
Mr Ilott: It is totally business.
Q1256 Chairman: Ms Goode?
Ms Goode: I am Director of FT2 Film and Television
Freelance Training which was set up in 1985 initially by the film
industry to provide apprenticeship-style new entry training in
junior technical production and craft areas, in response to the
growth of the freelance sector and the loss of traditional in-studio
apprenticeship routes. We cover both film and television.
Q1257 Chairman: And you specialise
very much in freelance?
Ms Goode: In freelance and we are a not-for-profit
training organisation and a registered charity.
Q1258 Chairman: Mr Davenport?
Mr Davenport: I am CEO of a company called Escape
Studios and we are a finishing school for the visual effects industry
in this country. We provide a bridge between what goes on in academia
and what goes on in industry.
Q1259 Chairman: We were hearing in
the previous evidence about special effects and I would imagine
special effects and visual effects are the same thing.
Mr Davenport: One is real and one is generated
by a computer so not exactly.
Q1260 Chairman: Do you get into both
Mr Davenport: No, it is all computer generated.
Everything we do is what is known as computer graphics (CGI).
Q1261 Chairman: That helps me if
no-one else. Doubtless everyone else understood that distinction.
How long have you been going?
Mr Davenport: Since 2002.
Q1262 Chairman: Michael Kuhn?
Mr Kuhn: I am sorry I am here again!
Q1263 Chairman: You are very welcome.
We are on every Wednesday morning.
Mr Kuhn: I am standing in for Nik Powell, the
Director of the National Film and Television School, which is
the best film school in the world. We have about 200 students
in 13 disciplines and we do television and film training for post-graduates.
Q1264 Chairman: And you are a school.
Tell me more about how it is organised?
Mr Kuhn: We are based in Beaconsfield in an
old studio and we have 13 disciplines covering all sort of things
like directing and screen writing and producing and cinematography,
but also editing, sound design, special and visual effects, digital
post-production and all that stuff. The two main industries we
service are the film industry and the television industry and
unlike most training courses our graduates whiz straight into
work and straight into creative businesses for work. So we are
not like someone who is doing an academic course which has no
practical application, studying cinema in the 19th century or
something like that. This is hands-on, bang out to their area
and you are making The Bill or working on Harry Potter.
Q1265 Chairman: How long do the students
stay with you, so to speak?
Mr Kuhn: In theory it is two years.
Q1266 Chairman: In theory?
Mr Kuhn: One of our first students was Nick
Park of Wallace & Gromit fame who was notoriously there
for seven years, illegally, but two years is the formal training.
Q1267 Chairman: And if I were a student
would I pay for myself?
Mr Kuhn: Yes.
Q1268 Chairman: So that means you
cut off quite a lot of people potentially?
Mr Kuhn: Potentially except we hand out £500,000
a year of scholarships both for fees and for living expenses.
That is one of the things we are going to come on and talk about.
The only reason that I and many of the other governors are involved
is because we do not want to be involved in a school which is
for rich middle-class children to do something while they think
what their career should be. It never has been that sort of school.
It has always been open to talent irrespective of means, and we
want to maintain that.
Q1269 Chairman: What age do your
people come in?
Mr Kuhn: The average age is 26.
Q1270 Chairman: So they are post-graduate
Mr Kuhn: Yes. I am not entirely up-to-date,
but roughly they arrive with £10,000 or £11,000 of student
debt from their undergraduate days.
Q1271 Chairman: And you add to it?
Mr Kuhn: We add to it but we try to add as little
as we can. That is part of the deal.
Lord Gordon of Strathblane: Can I chip in one
point on the funding bit.
Q1272 Chairman: Can we come to that
in a moment. Let us just get the introductions done. Mr Davenport,
just tell us a little more about you.
Mr Davenport: My background is I came out of
the visual effects industry myself and I was an animator and visual
effects artist. I worked in that region for about six years. I
set up the school because of my career path. I had come out of
studying fine art at Chelsea and tried to get into the industry,
and it was almost impossible unless you had done one or two degrees
to get into the industry, so there was an obvious opportunity.
I raised the finance and started a business. It was a very small
school. We have grown over the years and we are now teaching about
500 people from all over the world who come to us because we are
a centre of excellence and we have expertise and experience that
represents what is going on currently in the industry. I think
that is the reason we exist really because the majority of universities
in this country are not able to keep pace with the advancements
in technology and the way in which production techniques and workflow
are changing on a weekly or monthly basis. So we act as a route
for a lot of people who come off the back of degree courses with
no chance of getting a job and accelerate their learning and push
them into an industry with dedicated recruitment teams and partners
in the industry. We work with all of the major players across
the visual effects industry to build what they want at the right
time with the right skill-set.
Q1273 Lord Gordon of Strathblane:
Can you guarantee jobs at the end of the day?
Mr Davenport: No because we are a privately
owned company. We have help from Skillset but other than that
we have to charge for our courses to exist and therefore we have
to take all-comers.
Q1274 Lord Gordon of Strathblane:
What is your success rate?
Mr Davenport: I would say that out of the people
who come to us who want to get a job rather than just doing it
as a hobby we probably place 80 per cent of those people in careers
and that is across film and television.
Q1275 Chairman: Ms Goode, tell us
a little more about yourself in the same terms.
Ms Goode: We recruit people. We do not look
for any formal qualifications. Having said that, 80 per cent of
the people that apply to us have already got degrees, often in
vocational film and television at BA level. We are equally interested,
if not more interested, in trying to get people 18 plus to work
on certificate 18 material, who have maybe done City & Guilds
sound engineering or perhaps have come through one of the independent
training providers, who are community-based and who access people
from diverse backgrounds. Right from the beginning we have had
a very strong remit from the industry to help improve the diversity
of the workforce.
Q1276 Chairman: Thank you. Everyone
says that there is a great shortage of business skills particularly
in the film industry. Is that your impression?
Mr Ilott: Yes certainly. The Film Business Academy
was started by Skillset. Kate and Dinah, to whom you have just
been listening, were very instrumental in that, the perception
being that there was a huge dearth of business skills in the industry.
So the Film Business Academy runs a film strip on our executive
MBA programme at Cass, which is a world-ranked programme. We run
a film strip on our MSc management programme. We run various short
courses. We are planning to introduce a post-graduate diploma
in the Master programme to make rather more vocational business
education available. Our courses are very expensive. The MBA is
£39,000 and it is two years part-time.
Q1277 Chairman: Who pays for that?
Mr Ilott: So far of the students we have had
they pay roughly 50 per cent of the fees out of their own pocket
and the other 50 per cent is a combination of Skillset bursary
funding and arrangements with Cass, because Cass has a very special
deal for film industry students. Roughly across the piece it is
about 50 per cent.
Q1278 Chairman: So you have got to
be pretty dedicated or pretty rich?
Mr Ilott: Extraordinarily dedicated. The MBA
students are themselves in employment. Their average age is probably
34. They are in the film or television business mostly. There
are a couple of people from radio and outside but they are already
working in the business. They have got a lot of business experience
in film and, yes, they are extremely dedicated.
Q1279 Lord Maxton: Do their firms
pay for it?
Mr Ilott: I think out of the film cohort probably
only one. In other cohorts we have more sponsorship.
Chairman: I suspect that we are going to find
it quite difficult to get common replies from you all but we will
try and get some strands anyway. Lord Inglewood?
Q1280 Lord Inglewood: What I would
like to do is to ask each of you to slightly elaborate on some
of the points you have made already. If I could start with Michael
Kuhn. You have explained that those who study at the National
Film and Television School pay and you provide bursaries, so presumably
all is on an even keel for as long as (a) enough people want to
come and (b) the bursaries cover those who cannot afford it themselves.
Is that the sort of model which it is based on?
Mr Kuhn: As usual with anything in this country,
it is an incredible hodgepodge. Originally we were funded by the
Eady Fund which David Puttnam was talking about. Last year we
had 13 different funders. You can imagine that servicing those
funders is quite tricky and that is what the school has to deal
with, but the bulk, 40 per cent, comes from the DCMS. Then we
raise about 13 per cent ourselves and between us and Skillset
and then we get about 16 per cent from fees from the students.
It is a whole hodgepodge of things. Also I should mention that
like most of the higher and further education industry the international
students, ie non-EU students, pay more than the domestic students.
I think that is widespread across the higher and further education
landscape. We see it as our major objective to try and not allow
means alone to stop people coming.
Q1281 Lord Inglewood: But given the
various funding streams and so on, it must be a bit of a worry
with the world's economy in its current state?
Mr Kuhn: It is a big worry and like all these
bodies you spend your time trying to break even, which we have
managed to do in the seven years that I have been there, but it
is going to be incredibly difficult going forward. We want to
build on our success. For example, we would like to expand into
the games industry and be a centre of excellence like we are in
film and television for games. We do not really have a centre
of excellence for that in this country. One of the points I would
make is that government has to start prioritising things in the
funding of higher and further education. It cannot be that they
do not take an interest and say we do think that film and television
and games is a really high priority. We need to find the money,
whether it is out of HEFCE, out of Skillset, the Lottery, or any
of the various funding bodies to give them the money they need.
We already are very self-sufficientwe have built a new
building for £8 million without any government money, we
have doubled our student numbers, we have raised our student feesand
we do not look for handouts, but I think there comes a point where
you have to say if we are a priority (which I believe we are)
the Government has to find a way of supplying the funds. We are
not talking large sums of money. We are talking about a few hundred
thousand pounds to put us on an even keel and that is really important.
Q1282 Lord Inglewood: Mr Davenport,
you are obviously set up differently. I understand that it is
a private organisation and again your income is derived from the
fees you charge.
Mr Davenport: Absolutely.
Q1283 Lord Inglewood: If for whatever
reason the market will not generate fees then your business is
Mr Davenport: Yes, I suppose, in direct response
to that, the number of people who are applying to come on courses
with us has gone up because we have seen a dramatic increase in
the volume of people who are looking to get jobs specifically
in the visual effects industry. Because of the tax breaks in this
country and because of the volume of work that is coming in because
of the dollar being so strong, a large number of films where the
post-production would not ordinarily have been done in the UK
are now happening here and that is driving a need for a large
number of people to enter that industry. Companies within the
visual effects industry are looking to America and to Europe and
to Asia to find alternatives because the talent is not here.
Q1284 Lord Inglewood: Do you offer
Mr Davenport: We are not able to. We offer some
ourselves on an ad hoc basis to people we think really deserve
it and we do not charge them anything but we also work with Skillset
and some of our courses have been fully funded by them.
Q1285 Lord Inglewood: Are employers
sending people to you?
Mr Davenport: No.
Q1286 Lord Inglewood: It is below
Mr Davenport: We are providing people for them,
absolutely, but also in response to the worry about smaller fees,
we have generated an on-line version of the school which allows
people across the country and outside of the UK to access the
skills and the expertise that we have through the internet.
Q1287 Lord Inglewood: Do they pay
Mr Davenport: You pay for that as well but obviously
it is a lower cost of entry.
Q1288 Lord Inglewood: If I could
move on to Ms Goode.
Ms Goode: We do not charge fees. We actually
pay the trainees a training allowance of £230 a week to enable
them to live in London. We are targeting people who could not
afford to support themselves.
Q1289 Lord Inglewood: Where does
the £230 come from?
Ms Goode: At the moment all of the funding is
from the industry. The majority is through Skillset's TV Freelance
and Film Skills Fund. We have 29 trainees on a 44-week programme
at the moment which costs around £25,000. £20,000 is
through Skillset and the other £5,000 is from either direct
contributions from production companies or in-kind industry support.
Q1290 Lord Inglewood: Do you anticipate
this state of affairs continuing? I know Skillset is sitting behind
Ms Goode: It has shrunk. Five years ago we had
what was known in the industry as the Rolls-Royce model which
was a two-year all-singing all-dancing course. That cost between
£40,000 and £50,000 a person. We have shrunk this year
to 44 weeks and I think it will be shorter next time, which does
give us concerns in terms of hitting our diversity targets because
there is always that tendency that you recruit people at higher
levels if it is a shorter scheme and we really do want to keep
our remit open for people with less experience and fewer contacts.
Q1291 Lord Inglewood: I sense from
the nuance of what you are saying that actually you are concerned?
Ms Goode: Put it this way: our scheme ends at
the end of July and as of today I have got no funding from August.
We will be going into reserves. That is an on-going problem. Five
years ago and before that we were always very successful in using
the industry funding to draw down public matched funding. We had
a big ESF national project, we had lots of projects through GOL
and we had small projects through LSE co-financing. More and more
that became narrowed in terms of the criteria of those funding
bodies and the sorts of people we could recruit. It is targeted
at people furthest away from the labour market with no qualifications.
Most of the people that come to us to be trained as freelance
need to be a stage further than that. They need to be focused.
A lot of them are higher educated. We do not look for it but they
are. The people that the industry recruits do not fit that very
Q1292 Lord Inglewood: Is it principally
a problem of the criteria for those who are seeking matched funding
rather than those who might offer matched funding being unwilling
to produce it?
Ms Goode: We have never had the problem of industry
matched funding. The problem that we are going through is not
being able to access the public match.
Q1293 Lord Inglewood: Finally to
Mr Ilott, in terms of your customer base it is slightly different
Mr Ilott: It is. Our situation is somewhat different
because we are a department of a university so it is a very different
setup. What I would like to address is the fact that Cass is a
research-led business school and the Film Business Academy is
going through something of a change to emphasise our own contribution
to research, of which we have not done any, in a structured way.
Research-led schools have a completely different economic characteristic
to training programmes. It is partly why our fees are so expensive.
Part of the change we are going through at the Film Business Academy
is to put more emphasis on research because we believe there is
a need for it. I was interested to hear the conversation you had
earlier with Skillset. I think academia has a lot to contribute
towards research so long as it is orientated towards practitioner
needs, which I think we can do. The other reason is our teaching,
because if it is not derived from original research, quickly becomes
teaching yesterday's models and in the current digital environment
yesterday's models wear out very quickly. It is something we need
to do for pedagogical purposes. Part of that is widening the brief
of the Film Business Academy to include all the creative industries,
which is something we are discussing doing at the present time,
to widen what we do. Part of that means widening our funding base.
If I can characterise that: the first cohort of MBAs we had who
are now just finishing and will graduate this year, when they
came on board the MBA programme was £35,000. Cass put in
11, Skillset on average put in 12, and the students on average
put in 12. Compared to the NFTS and Michael's position it is a
very simple funding arrangement. Going forward we expect to have
far more public sector funders and NESTA and so on, and Skillset's
contribution will be proportionately reduced going forward. I
do not think we are hugely anxious either about students coming
forward or funding. I think our expectation in terms of volume
is relatively modest.
Q1294 Lord Gordon of Strathblane:
Could I start off with Mr Kuhn perhaps and the funding problems
of the National Film and Television School. You say a new funding
model is urgently required. Do I presume that you would impose
a compulsory levy on the industry?
Mr Kuhn: I am not a great one for compulsory
levies. What I would do is support what is laid out in the Digital
Britain report and what I think I overheard earlier on that certainly
the public service broadcasters should be compelled to support
it. That is much more appropriate than compulsory levies which
do not take account of what market circumstances are. Part of
the reason why we are in big trouble this year is because, without
any notice at all, Channel 5 and ITV withdrew funding to the tune
of half a million pounds which is very hard to cope with.
Q1295 Lord Gordon of Strathblane:
That is fully understood but for the avoidance of doubt you would
have a compulsory levy on ITV since it is called a public service
Mr Kuhn: Is it, I do not know, I am confused!
Q1296 Lord Gordon of Strathblane:
If it wishes to continue to derive the benefits of being a public
service broadcaster you would have a compulsory levy on it?
Mr Kuhn: Whether you call it a levy or not but
anyway an obligation, absolutely yes, because you just have to
look at the back of our submission to see every single week the
number of programmes that are produced with our graduates. We
are effectively their training programme and it cannot be done
for free; they should contribute to it. I fully understand that
they have got tremendous difficulties because of what is happening
in the market-place but either you are in the business or you
are not and if you are in the business and you are given a privilege
involving a public service remit, then you have an obligation
to support training.
Q1297 Lord Gordon of Strathblane:
Before coming on to my next question I wonder if I could ask Mr
Davenport to elaborate on his on-line courses.
Mr Davenport: We teach a full range of courses
that teach the skills that are necessary to enter the visual effects
market, the games market, the design and visualisation market
and television and commercials market. We have taken those and
we have turned them into video content and created a system that
provides a social learning environment so that people are studying
with mentors and tutors on-line. That system is being bought by
universities across the country to supplement their learning experience,
because their ability to spend time with the students and give
them vocational skills-led training is being removed, because
I suppose they are being pushed toward generating research and
the funding that is available to them is more in that place than
it is in being able to deliver that kind of skills training.
Q1298 Lord Gordon of Strathblane:
Is there any scope for the National Film and Television School
to do something of that nature?
Mr Kuhn: We have examined it a lot. It would
be easy to set up the technology to do it but the problem arises
if you are doing, with a limited number of staff, a very intense,
very crammed two-year course. To free them up to do what I think
is an essential part of on-line which is to have one-on-one with
the tutors, they just do not have the time. They would have to
write the courses, implement them, keep the standards up to a
very high level, and it is a matter of priorities and our priorities
are our 200 students there for two years of crammed work with
people who are practitioners and teachers as well, so that is
really what has stopped us getting into that, after a lot of research
and thought about it.
Q1299 Lord Gordon of Strathblane:
I fully recognise that a centre of excellence like the NFTS is
very important for the industry as a whole, but a large part of
the cost for a student outside the immediate South East area must
be the student accommodation costs of attending courses?
Mr Kuhn: True.
Q1300 Lord Gordon of Strathblane:
If you could get that money channelled into providing you with
more tutors to do an Open University-style course.
Mr Kuhn: Yes, absolutely, it is all to do with
the resources. If we had the resources we could have more staff.
We are just looking at our resources now and we are just about
keeping our heads above water and to say we will divert staff
to do the servicing required is very problematic for us.
Q1301 Lord Gordon of Strathblane:
What in the way of modular teaching do you do as well as the full
courses which obviously is the main business of the school? Would
you provide accreditation for modules provided by individual employers?
Mr Kuhn: We have a short course unit which is
very active and one of the best in the country and very popular.
They do both individual training to upgrade your skills to whatever
you want to upgrade your skills to for the independent sector
but we also do bespoke courses. For example, we have done one
for Sky for their presentation on the television side. We do a
course with them to help them develop presenting skills and news
reading skills and all that kind of stuff. We do both in that
regard and we have always looked on our short course unit as a
very important part of our work of servicing the independent sector
which, as you know, is so big in our business.
Q1302 Lord Gordon of Strathblane:
How much do you consult with the industry about the structure
and content of courses?
Mr Kuhn: A tremendous amount. They are involved
in the creation of the courses, in the validation of the courses,
in the assessment of the students, in the admissions process.
Practically every bit of it is staffed and involves the industry
at all kinds of levels, both the business side and the creative
Q1303 Lord Gordon of Strathblane:
My final point would be that, rather as medical schools only train
enough doctors for employment later on, do you have regard to
employment opportunities in the number of students you accept?
Mr Kuhn: We probably do not do as great an analysis
as we should do, but I would say, generally speaking, in this
country when you look at the items you have been looking atand
reverting back to my evidence when I was last herefirst
of all, Skillset have done a fantastic job of bringing together
an overall view and we rely on them for a lot of the information
that you were just mentioning. I think their role should be expanded
and their resources increased but, having said that, equally important,
and even more important to this whole training question, is where
are the jobs? I said last time about the Film Council that they
must spend more time worrying about where are the jobs and the
sustainable industry that we need to have. I was listening to
Dominic just a moment ago. Our industry should not be dependent
on whether the pound is strong or weak. That is not a good way
of setting up an industry. Our industry should be because we have
great talent and we have great companies here to hire people and
to need people all the time and are strong enough to be able to
deal with ups and downs in the exchange rate. That is really what
we need. That is really the other side of the coin of training.
I think we have made tremendous strides with the help of Skillset
thinking about the industrial infrastructure that we have here.
In games, films and television it is bad and that is really one
of the major issues we have to face.
Q1304 Baroness Howe of Idlicote:
Again a general question for you all on the demand for and the
supply of relevant business and technical skills. I take the point
entirely about the fact that we are in a bad moment at this time
but to what extent does that compare with what is happening in
other countries? How do we compare in that way?
Mr Davenport: I suppose on my part, in terms
of what my company delivers by way of training for the visual
effects industry, we are at the very top of what is delivered
across the globe. The major problem in this industry is that the
intellectual property is not generated in the UK. It is coming
from the States or it is coming from Japan or it is coming from
forces outside of the UK so we are not masters of our own destiny.
That is deviating slightly but that is what I would like to say
about that. An interesting place for delivering these sorts of
skills, if you look at France and Germany, if you look to the
major studios like Pixar or Dreamworks which are in California
in the States, they are extracting students from courses there
that are completely funded by the government. There is one school
called Supinfocom in France and one called Filmakademie in Germany
where they are given probably the best visual effects and animation
training available in the world.
Q1305 Chairman: I know you said in
Germany but whereabouts in Germany?
Mr Davenport: It is in Baden-Württemberg.
Supinfocom is in the South of France. I cannot remember exactly
its location. They are completely funded and they are based on
generating people who can sustain an industry within that country,
even though they are then exported by the likes of Dreamworks
and Pixar who obviously see the skills and the expertise that
is there and see that it is greater than what is going on in their
Q1306 Baroness Howe of Idlicote:
When you said earlier that 80 per cent of the people you train
get jobs, you are referring to right across the globe then, are
Mr Davenport: Yes.
Q1307 Baroness Howe of Idlicote:
Are you saying that compares very favourably?
Mr Davenport: I would say so.
Ms Goode: Our area is very much freelance film
and TV drama technical craft areas, and in terms of where Britain
stands in the world. The reputation of those crews is still very
high. Those crews as individual freelancers are on the whole very
committed to training the next generation. The people we train
we are putting them in alongside assistant level people and the
way that the industry recruits freelance, what is important is
what productions they have had experience on and who is training
them, and it is that word-of-mouth thing. I think to keep that
standard of the reputation of British freelance crews and to continue
to be attractive to American productions, it is not a big sector
but you need to drip feed across all departments people in at
the bottom particularly from diverse backgrounds.
Q1308 Baroness Howe of Idlicote:
This applies to you all. Are you really saying, despite the fact
we have heard that other countries are really paying for the basic
training in these sorts of skills, and you may be building on
them, as it were, still you think that we are doing a better job
or are you really saying that the Government and others should
be doing far more?
Ms Goode: With more money we could all do a
much better job. I think there is the commitment within the industry
to training but it is very hard to fund. With an industry that
is cyclical in production, up and down, you can have a year when
very little is in production, and we know what is happening in
broadcast, it is cutting back, that is a challenge. It is a challenge
in terms of the creative industries and the impact they have on
viewers because what we need is high-quality content produced
by people from a variety of backgrounds to keep that cultural
thing up. I think that needs public support.
Q1309 Baroness Howe of Idlicote:
Still what is going through my mind is given that this is such
an important area and growth industry etcetera, why is it that
other governments are doing it and ours is not if it is so important?
Mr Kuhn: It has to be borne in mind that there
is a big distinction between the high-end digital post-production
and computer graphics. We started our course a few years ago at
the Film School and the first problem was we could not keep the
students to finish the course because they were being stolen halfway
through the course by the big special effects companies. There
is such a demand, it is such a booming thing. You do not have
to be an expert to think about computer games. Every ad you see
on the TV, films, the computer graphics and special effects side,
the high end side is so booming that it is not surprising that
it is a world on its own. If you think about the lower end like
a crew going out to shoot a documentary (which used to have a
bigger crew and now there is almost no crew and so on and so forth)
that is a much more tricky area, so it is two worlds.
Q1310 Chairman: We say it is a growth
industry but we have some evidence from the UK Film Council which
appears to show that since 2001 there has been a really quite
appreciable drop in employment inside the industry on film and
video production. Is that your impression?
Mr Kuhn: Yes, but then I am saying to you that
this bit of it is a different world. There is a bit of it that
impacts on film and television but there is a huge amount of high-end
post-production digital and special effects which has nothing
to do with film and television; it is to do with the games industry,
the advertising industry and all kinds of other industries that
are nothing to do with the film and television industry.
Q1311 Lord Maxton: And are also international?
Mr Davenport: Yes it is international. It is
a global freelance market.
Q1312 Lord Maxton: The skilled people
you train, do they go abroad?
Mr Davenport: Yes.
Q1313 Chairman: What do you feel
about Baroness Howe's point on that last question?
Mr Davenport: Do we do this as well as other
people? A private company like mine could not exist if we did
not do it well enough. That is what I would say. We are doing
something because there is a massive gap in the skills that are
being generated by mainstream education. They move too slowly.
They are not able to fund things properly. They are not able to
attract the level of competence in their tutors to deliver what
is necessary. There are probably two universities in this country
that do it properly.
Mr Kuhn: It is allied to the industrial base.
Last year we ran a course for the Film Council for producers and
I was with them in Los Angeles last year. We went in to see Dreamworks
Animation in Glendale, who obviously make the big animated features.
There were a thousand people coming to work every day there who
do nothing but computer-generated animation. If you are in the
training side of the business not to have such an entity here
is a tremendous disadvantage. I am sure you would agree that to
have our school next door to Dreamworks Animation would be such
an incredible thing but we do not.
Q1314 Baroness Howe of Idlicote:
That perhaps answers some of the points but I wanted to hear from
Mr Ilott because, after all, people are going on your courses
and maybe they are just doing it for interest but they pay one
heck of a lot of money.
Mr Ilott: They certainly do not do it just for
interest. In answer to your original question the Film Business
Academy is unique and the evidence in support of that claim is
that our students on the MSc management programme have been drawn
from 13 countries and overall we have drawn students from 23 countries.
On our executive MBA programme we have students flying in from
New York on a monthly basis to do the programme. We held an academic
conference last week which attracted 32 leading academics from
15 countries in Europe and all over the USA. I think that is because
the Film Business Academy idea as an idea is a unique one and
it has attracted a lot of global interest. However, the business
skills that we teach are mostly generic. There is only a stream
on the existing MBA programme because 80 per cent of what you
need to learn is generic to business. From that point of view
I think we are a long way behind. Business education is far better
understood by employees and employers in the USA than it is in
the UK and it is far better understood in certain business sectors
in the UK than it is in the creative industries. We have a real
problem in terms of business education that the industry itself
does not have much respect for higher education of any kind and
certainly not for post-graduate business education. I would agree
with what Michael Kuhn said earlier that if the sector is so important
and if, for example, the issues raised by Digital Britain
are so important then the resources being put towards this are
almost derisory. One of my big criticisms of the Carter Report
is that the sums of money involved for training Digital Britain
seem to me derisory.
Q1315 Baroness Howe of Idlicote:
What you are really saying is that the lessons to be learned have
not yet been learned by the people involved. What more could the
companies involved in this country be doing? Should they be doing
more with contributing towards things like apprenticeships and
internships and things like that and how can all of us encourage
them to wake up a bit to the competition?
Mr Ilott: If I could answer that on the business
side, certainly in the film business most people in positions
of authority today got where they are by hard graft, by talent,
and by taking enormous risks with their lives, and if that was
good enough for them why should everyone else go not through the
same. Unfortunately I do not think that that answer is the right
answer. There is a considerable cultural resistance to business
education in the industry amongst those people who are in positions
of making decisions. That can easily be changed. The example I
would give is Universal, which is a major American studio which
has a big office in London. When they were acquired by GE Capital,
they acquired along with a new owner a whole new attitude to training
and staff development. GE puts a lot of emphasis on staff development
and all of a sudden Universal are being asked "Where is your
staff development plan, what training and education are you providing
for your people?" We have a dialogue going with Universal
as we have with uCinemas and with others about how we can contribute
to their new found enthusiasm for staff development. I do not
believe that would happen were it not for the fact that a new
company bought them and that new company had a much more developed
and sophisticated sense of how to develop and retain staff.
Baroness Howe of Idlicote: So it is really market
Q1316 Lord Maxton: Could I come back
to that point I was making about it being international because
we have tended to talk about the TV and film industry but the
games industry, although it may not be as strong as we would like
in this country, does exist and presumably you, Mr Davenport,
are training people very much to work in that games industry?
Mr Davenport: Yes.
Q1317 Lord Maxton: But they told
us you cannot produce a game which you can pay for which is based
in this country and only sold in this country.
Mr Davenport: No.
Q1318 Lord Maxton: In other words,
it has to be an international market?
Mr Davenport: Yes.
Q1319 Lord Maxton: What percentage
of your graduates, shall we call them, actually move and work
abroad at the end of the course?
Mr Davenport: I think there is a question of
apprenticeship in the UK and then once they have one or two years'
worth of experience they will disappear, off to the States or
other areas like Canada.
Q1320 Lord Maxton: They are paying
in your case so it does not matter quite as much but if the state
were involved in paying then there would be the argument, as there
always is with the doctors, why would you train a doctor who is
then going to go and work in the States?
Mr Davenport: Yes, I think again forces are
at work because a lot of the games studios in this country have
been acquired by people like Microsoft or large American organisations
and they are not in control of their own destiny, so they are
also looking at the costs of generating these games because the
price of a game has stayed the same but the number of people that
are involved in producing them at that level of detail and content
has gone up dramatically. So they are looking at staffing resourcing
issues and looking to develop in places like China, India and
Korea where there are large groups of highly trained but cheaper
people to do the grunt work and the intellectual property and
the creation of the ideas is all from the UK. So the model is
changing, I think. I would imagine you will see only the high-level
work for the games industry going on in the UK and the rest being
farmed out to cheaper locations.
Q1321 Lord Maxton: In the film and
TV industries how much of the work that you do in terms of computer
generation is beginning to overtake some of the skills that are
at present there in the film and television industries? The building
of sets is an example. How much can you now generate of a set?
Mr Davenport: I would say most of it is being
done digitally. Directors are able to fix it in post, so to speak,
so they shoot whatever they like and then it all goes to the post-production
facility and they are given the job of fixing a lot of the work
as well as adding sets and fixing a lot of the problems that they
would have ordinarily thought about earlier on and built sets,
all that sort of stuff. I can see a shift in emphasis for the
industry as a whole.
Q1322 Lord Inglewood: This is a question
principally for Mr Ilott which is if you look at the business
pages of a newspaper you see how great business leaders one day
are leading a company that makes milk bottles and the next day
leading a company that makes motor cars. Are the people on your
courses people who want to be successful business people, who
think that the film and digital industries are the places to go,
or are they people who are interested in film and want to hone
up their business skills in order to become captains of industry?
It may be, Mr Kuhn, you will have something to say about that
Mr Ilott: From our point of view it is definitely
the latter. If people wanted to be successful in business I do
not think they would choose the film industry as their preferred
route. Nearly all the people we get on the MBA programme are already
in the business. On the MSc programme they want to be in the industry
and our short courses are delivered mostly to companies. The people
that we are teaching are mostly vocationally oriented and very
committed to working in film (film being widely defined).
Q1323 Chairman: I am going to ask
each of you just one last question. Our only status is to report
and to make proposals to government. We can review the whole industry
and we can conceivably say interesting things about it but our
power is to make proposals to government. What would your number
one priorities be? When I say number one priorities, I mean the
number one priority of each of you as far as government policy
is concerned? Who would like to start?
Mr Kuhn: I think it is really a matter of prioritising
available funding for training for this sector. At the moment
it is not prioritised. Skillset have done a great job and they
should be given more money and be encouraged. At the Film School
we like to think we have done a good job. We should tell HEFCE
they need 500 more a year; give it to them.
Q1324 Chairman: We are talking about
Mr Kuhn: Out of a budget of £7 billion
it is not exactly going to break the bank. They are always pleading
poverty but every five minutes you get another initiative and
they find £20 million here and £8 million there and
£12 million there. If they do not have the money the Government
should find the money. Thirdly, which is all part of the same
thing, it absolutely should be without doubt an obligation on
public service broadcasters who are paid for out of the licence
fee and public money to bear a large part of the burden of training
costs. That is about prioritisation. It just needs someone to
take a look at it and say "This is ridiculous, we want this
sector to be a mainstay of this country". We are not talking
about huge sums of money and across the board we should prioritise
it to give the resources for this to happen. I would be amazed
if anyone on this table did not agree with that simple proposition.
Q1325 Chairman: That is a challenge.
Mr Davenport: I would come at it from a different
slant. I would say the problem with education in this country
is that the majority of organisations involved are not run like
businesses. They are not made to take responsibility for the way
in which they conduct themselves and think logically and cohesively
about the way in which they are generating money to be able to
do these things themselves. We have a lot to learn from America
from the way in which a lot of their private schools are run.
They deliver the very best education across a whole set the fields
and people pay for it.
Q1326 Chairman: I assume, although
I am not an expect, that the Americans are not overgenerous in
federal or state support?
Mr Davenport: No.
Q1327 Chairman: Sharon Goode?
Ms Goode: "Dear Father Christmas ... "
I would like to encourage the public funding organisations to
re-visit their criteria, both in terms of not allowing people
with degrees to get a second bite of the cherry because sometimes
they have got the education but what they need is the level two
and three craft skills. I would ask them to look at the job output
criteria because in the freelance sector it is very hard to be
able to promise 13 weeks or more work within 13 weeks of completing
a course. They might have a day on a commercial, then a gap, then
six weeks on a feature. It is up and down. I think that needs
to be broadened. Particularly for independent training providers
I would love to see a mechanism where people who are working with
the hardest to reach who do not want to go to college can actually
access HE funding to support those young people who want vocational
skills and not academic skills.
Q1328 Chairman: That point about
people with degrees, they might have a degreeand I must
be careful what I sayin media studies, for example, but
that does not necessarily equip them with practical training although
that might be the area they want to go in. What you are saying
is that in addition (and it does not have to be media studies,
it could be anything) there might be support available for the
more practical skills that they are going to need? Is that the
Ms Goode: The graduate internship idea of taking
people and giving them a reality check in term of access points.
It is the assistant skills or the business skills or whatever
Q1329 Chairman: Mr Ilott?
Mr Ilott: I think that the service industries
in general and the creative industries in particular, and within
the creative industries especially film, are not really taken
very seriously at public policy level. Can I quote from a recent
paper from the economist Professor Alan Freeman where he says:
"Economists tend to react strongly against the idea that
the cultural and creative sector is analogous to an industry.
They cling to industrial classifications they regard as tried
and tested, organised around different types of material production.
The cultural and creative sector is seen as a seven-day wonder
soon to disappear along with `knowledge industries', `bioscience'
and all other such transitory fancies." He goes on to say:
"All basic elements of the economy are being re-shaped: its
markets, its industrial structures and its property relations.
I venture that the cultural and creative sector is a prototype
of this reshaping, a paradigmatic industry which has refined and
organised the use of creative labour on a new level, providing
a model of organisation which a much wider range of service industries
are now following." Alan Freeman's paper really addresses
the neglect by the academic community of this sector. As I am
sure you know, small and medium-sized enterprises constitute 90
per cent of our economy in terms of number of enterprises (not
by employment but the majority by employment) and the problem
we have with it not being taken sufficiently seriously is that
we have suffered a bit from neglect and lack of support, which
Michael and others have addressed, but also a lack of demand and
a lack of rigour. I think we are allowed to get away with things
because we are not properly supported. The latest evidence for
that is Stephen Carter's report on Digital Britain, which
makes enormous claims which I agree with about the significance
of what is happening in digital media but where it comes to the
training and skills part of that report it provides a very nugatory
proposal for investment in providing necessary solutions. I would
like to see that attitude change.
Q1330 Chairman: That is very helpful.
Thank you again very much for your evidence. I think we may need
to follow up with you one or two of the points that you have made
and perhaps we could do that by correspondence. Thank you very
much for coming this morning and for giving your time to this
inquiry. Mr Kuhn, do we see you next week?
Mr Kuhn: No, I promise, never again.
Chairman: You are very welcome any time you
feel like coming. Thank you very much indeed.
25 Government Office for London Back