Film industry merger beckons

By Jon Ashford

Britain’s principal film institutions, are discussing the possibility of a merger with government and industry leaders, film minister Siôn Simon revealed today.

UK Film Council (UKFC) and British Film Institute (BFI) could be merged while maintaining the integrity of both institutions and sacrificing none of their exiting remit, government sources indicated.

“A new streamlined single body that represents the whole of the film sector will offer a better service both for film makers and film lovers,” the minister said.

Both Greg Dyke, former director general of the BBC, and currently chair of the BFI, and Tim Bevan, chairman of the UKFC, gave positive reactions to the proposal.

“We view this as an opportunity to build on the strengths and successes of our work in recent years,” Mr Dyke said.

“We look forward to working with DCMS [the Department for Media, Culture and Sport] and the UK Film Council over the coming months to explore this opportunity.”

Tim Bevan echoed his sentiments. “I welcome this idea and I’m keen to work closely with the BFI and DCMS over the autumn to make it happen.”

A project board chaired by the DCMS, with representatives from both the BFI and UKFC, will meet to determine the possible governance structure of any new, single organisation.

Their primary objective will be to examine areas of overlap between both bodies and areas where neither body has an industry presence. An initial analysis on the logistical and legal challenges of the proposed merger will be completed by the end of the year.

The BFI has existed since 1933 and is the caretaker of the vast National Archive and Library.

The UKFC, in existence since 2000, provides support to young filmmakers, and provides funding and support for British film in general.