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February

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Message from Film London CEO, Adrian Wootton OBE

Date posted: 04.02.2020

With the Awards season in full swing we are reminded of just how successful London and the UK are at producing exceptional talent and content for audiences around the globe.

Throughout political change, and against the backdrop of Brexit, the screen sector remains strong - in fact the booming film and TV industries have continued to demonstrate unprecedented growth. Figures released just last week highlight the ongoing strength and creativity of the UK's screen industries, with inward investment spend from major international productions topping £3.03 billion. Add to that the GDP figures in the quarter to August 2019 showing a 9pp expansion for the film and TV industry and the economics really do speak for themselves.

In recent months, Netflix, Disney and Scanline have confirmed major international investments into the UK's creative economy, all committing to permanent or long-term production bases and demonstrating a huge vote of confidence in UK infrastructure. Sky is planning to build a 32 acre film and TV studio in Elstree and further studio developments are currently in the pipeline including Elstree, Barking & Dagenham and Liverpool, allowing for even more content creation and further bolstering the UK offer.

We know that what brings productions here is the combination of our generous and reliable tax relief, a favourable exchange rate, world-class studios and facilities, exceptional post production and VFX, and an immense variety of locations.

This massive collective industry achievement is something we can't and don't take for granted and here at Film London we will never rest on our laurels. It is our mission to support and promote the capital's film, TV, animation and post-production industries. We work to sustain, promote and develop London as a global content production hub, supporting the development of the city's new and emerging filmmaking talent and investing in a diverse and rich film culture.

The ongoing success of the screen industries inevitably means increased demand and we are working harder than ever to ensure long-term sustainability. While this is a definite challenge, it also represents a significant opportunity. The need for studio space and physical infrastructure spurs investment and regeneration opportunities, while the industry draws on a tremendous talent pool that includes everything from carpentry and costume-making to the technical wizardry that sustains the post-production and VFX industries. We have also been working hard to unlock 'alternative' studio space and bring vacant sites into use, in order to continue attracting and accommodating more large-scale international productions than ever.

The creative economy accounts for one in six jobs and employment is growing four times faster than in the economy as a whole. Here at Film London we are absolutely committed to ensuring Londoners are equipped with the necessary skills for the future and to support economic growth and new jobs across the capital and the industry at large.

To that end we are very proud of our Equal Access Network, which works with organisations and training providers to actively engage with talented individuals from under-represented communities, providing paid opportunities, career support and bespoke advice. The scheme helps film, TV and post-production companies widen the net when it comes to recruitment and helps new entrants, mid-level and returners to get in, stay in and return to the TV and Film industry.

Film London prides itself on discovering and championing new talent and helping filmmakers make the connections they need to take their careers to the next level. It is vital that we continue to nurture and champion exceptional talent across the screen industries that leads the way in shaping the future. Schemes including Film London Microwave, Film London Artists' Moving Image Network (FLAMIN) and BFI NETWORK as part of Film Hub London allow us to do just that and we are privileged to work every day with a high calibre of talent that reflects the diverse communities of London and our commitment to inclusion in our industry.

Over the past year, our productions have been selected and won awards at some of the biggest festivals around the world, and many of our alumni have moved on to make features and developing careers within the moving image industries.

Film London Lodestars, now in its second year, provides critical recognition of this talent, honouring the undoubtedly bright futures of innovative creators and practitioners from across the capital. Lodestars reflects the breadth of talent across London's screen industries celebrating a variety of successes, from international festival circuits and award wins to community and environmental impact and gallery residencies, all underpinned by outstanding creativity or craftsmanship, tipped to create, inspire and guide future works. This is the next generation of talent coming through and is all part of our commitment to ensuring a sustainable industry.

On the hugely important issue of addressing environmental sustainability in the screen industries, we have been continuing to work on Green Screen with our European and industry partners in a bid to reduce the carbon footprint of the European film and TV industries.

Film London is all about partnership and connections. London and the UK are absolutely open for business and we see ourselves very much as part of the international firmament, doing everything we can to ensure that we have the power to deliver for international productions. This includes clear communication with our international colleagues, dispelling any misinformation - and there has been some misleading and erroneous information circulating - and reiterating that the fiscal incentives and competitiveness of the U.K. will not be affected.

We, together with our talent, remain hungry to work with the world. With the US of course, but also maintaining our long and fruitful relationship with European partners and colleagues post Brexit. Having returned from Sundance just last week, it was really wonderful to see so much extraordinary home-grown talent on view. Sunday's BAFTAs and the incredible success of 1917 also acknowledge that we are positively brimming over with talent and creativity.

London is a global capital for film and one of the most film-friendly in the world. Our city - and indeed the whole of the UK - is a hotbed for creativity and innovation, and our culture and creative industries not only provide jobs and opportunities but also bring communities together. We've never known such a demand for London's talent, creativity and locations and with the biggest names in content production making a beeline for the capital, we are excited about seizing this unique moment and capitalising on the position we are in to continue creating opportunities for talent, creating stories for our screens and creating extraordinary growth for our economy. 

Adrian Wootton OBE

Chief Executive, Film London and the British Film Commission

 

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