Last week I was contacted by the Film Distributors Association, who were trying to work out how many people work on independent feature films in the UK.  The BFI do an incredible job of tracking films and employment but don’t have the numbers on this specific question.  The hard part of the research is splitting the employment numbers between those working on “studio” and “independent” films.  So I took the challenge and here’s what I found…

  • 64% of people employed in UK film work in the production sector
  • UK film employment has grown by 60% between 2007 and 2013
  • Around half of the jobs in the UK film industry are self-employed
  • 67% of UK film jobs in 2013 were based in London and the South East (the UK average for all industries is 28%)
  • There were 1,689 feature films shot in the UK from 2009-13 inclusive
  • 94% of those films did not have any financing from Hollywood studios
  • Between 2009-13, 4,437 people acted as writer, director or main producer on at least one UK film
  • 74% of people credited on UK indie films worked on just one film
  • To be in the top 1% of “Most credited crew on UK indie films” from 2009-13, you need at least 10 credits
  • 89,888 people worked on UK indie films from 2009-13
  • 25% of those people were actors

How many people work in the UK film industry, across all film types?

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) provides data on UK employment via its Annual Population Survey and Labour Force Survey. They define “people in employment” as individuals aged 16 or over who undertook paid work (as an employee or self-employed), those who had a job that they were temporarily away from, those on government-supported training and employment programmes, and those doing unpaid family work.  Between October 2012 and September 2013 the UK film industry employment numbers were…

SectorPeople employed
Film and video production42,097
Film and video distribution6,289
Film exhibition17,744

In 2013, 63.7% of people employed in the film industry worked in production (i.e. making films), 26.8% were employed in exhibition (i.e. showing films) and the remaining 9.5% worked in distribution (i.e. getting films from producers to exhibitors).

UK film employment has grown significantly in the past decade, increasing by 60% between 2007 and 2013. The peak was in 2011, when 75,901 people were classed as in employment in the UK film industry.

Note: The years listed above run from October to September, so for example the 2007 series actually refers to the period from October 2006 to September 2007 inclusive.Continue reading

This is the fourth in my carefully-planned trilogy of articles about film schools.  I have collected some statistics and links to help wannabe film students work out what’s best for them.

I’m also proud to launch, which is an entirely free database of the film schools and courses I found while carrying out this research.

What current students think

Unistats is a government-backed organisation which provides a standardised scoring system for Higher Education courses in the UK.  They survey students to measure factors such as student satisfaction and employment after graduation.

Unistats only publishes information for courses when they feel they have enough student responses, and they only cover courses on the UCAS admissions system.  Therefore, out of the 537 courses across 145 educational institutions I found, Unistats provides data on 219 courses and 96 institutions (i.e. 41% of courses and 66% of institutions).

Below are the averages for educational institutions offering full time film courses starting in 2015 which feature some element of practical filmmaking.

Highest average student satisfaction

The chart below shows the percentage of surveyed students who agreed with the statement”Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of the course“.

Top institutionsSatisfied with quality of course
University Of Chichester100%
Blackpool and the Fylde College100%
University of Essex94%
University of Southampton94%
Canterbury Christ Church University94%
University of Reading94%
University of Derby94%
Oxford Brookes93%
University of Kent92%
Birkbeck University of London91%

Quality of teaching

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A few years ago I wrote a piece about the big increase in film students in the UK, showing how the number of UK film students grew by 240% between 2004 and 2012.  Not only is the number of film students increasing, there is more of a focus towards practical film courses.  Production-based courses rose by 589% 2004-12, meaning that by 2012 17% of the approximately 5,500 film students in the UK were studying ‘Film Production’ (as opposed to ‘Film Studies’).

In the third installment of my film school study, I am giving voice to this growing cohort of film students.  I surveyed 317 film students past and present and asked them an array of questions about their course, their school and their experiences.

In summary…

  • Film students seem to really enjoy their time studying film
  • Students are not confident that their course has prepared them for a career in film
  • Over a quarter of all students said they wanted an increase in awareness of industry practice
  • Students on longer courses had more fun but were less confident that their course prepared them for employment in the industry
  • Students want more practical study and more specialised modules
  • 56% of students feel that their Head of School is doing a good job
  • Film students and film employers have slightly different views on what makes a new entrant more employable.
  • Students undervalued the significance of having a driving licence and overestimated the value of all other factors.

Film school is fun, but does it prepare you for a career in film?

I asked the film students to provide a rating between 1 and 5 for a number of simple statements.  The highest scoring statement was “I enjoyed my time on this course”, scoring an average of 4.1 out of 5.  The lowest scoring statement was “My course prepared me for a career in film”, receiving just 2.9 out of 5.

Are long courses more fun? More use?

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