Lord Puttnam Gives UK Film Skills Shortage Warning
Posted on 31st March 2020 at 12:25
Oscar-winning film producer David Puttnam has warned that the UK could fall behind the rest of the filmmaking world due to an urgent skills shortage while attending an event to give a speech at the National Film and Television School (NFTS), of which he is life president, reports The Guardian.
He has highlighted research conducted by industry body ScreenSkills, which claims that growth in the UK industry will falter, leaving other countries to step in unless there is an immediate “step change to solve the skills issues”.
The British Film Institute (BFI) says that 10,000 new entrants are required over the next five years “to keep the UK in the vanguard of global film production”.
Lord Puttnam, the producer of such films as The Mission, The Killing Fields, Chariots of Fire, Midnight Express, Bugsy Malone and Local Hero, which combined bagged him 10 Oscars, said: “We still don’t seem to understand that you have to feed the beast. Unless you’ve got talent coming through, you’re lost.
“You don’t have to be a genius to realise that if there are 10 terrific cinematographers in the country but there are 30 productions going on, the quality of cinematography decreases and the costs of each individual cinematographer rises. So production costs escalate. Yet, at the supply end, there’s still a lot of tooth-sucking and a lack of resources going into talent creation.”
The peer spent 30 years as an independent producer, and head of Columbia Studios before returning to the UK in the late 1980s, says the problem seems entrenched. He mentioned a Guardian article from 1993, in which he called for investment in new talent and skills to ensure the success of Britain’s industry decades ahead.
In the 1993 Guardian article, he said: “If we want Britain to enjoy the benefits of having one of the world’s best audio-visual industries, then we have to work together – the training institutions, the TV companies, the filmmakers and the government – to ensure that, in the decades ahead, we have the people with the skills to make it happen.”
“What is really horrifying is that, 27 years later, you could almost give the same speech,” he said, “I only wish the situation had improved.”
Now, Lord Puttnam is calling for film studios and investors to support new talent both in front of and behind the camera and that the industry should invest in bursaries and scholarships, among other schemes.
“If we want Britain to enjoy the benefits of having one of the world’s best audio-visual industries, then we have to work together – the training institutions, the TV companies, the filmmakers and the government – to ensure that, in the decades ahead, we have the people with the skills to make it happen,” he said.
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