Major new study into gender inequality among UK film and TV writers

Almost exactly two years ago, Alexis Kreager and I published a big report into the gender inequality faced by film directors working in the UK film industry.

Soon after it was published, we were approached by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) about studying the plight of screenwriters, both in the film and television industries.  This led to the WGGB (along with the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society – ALCS) supporting us in carrying out a deep data dive into the experiences of UK writers.

The full 177-page report can be downloaded here, and I have written a brief summary in the article below.

Download the full report

You can read more about the Writers’ Guild and ALCS’ campaign connected to the report at writersguild.org.uk/equalitywrites

The report covers both …

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The big changes taking place in UK film production

New figures released last week about UK film production in 2017 have prompted questions from readers about the health and evolving nature of the UK film industry.

I’m focusing on the production sector because otherwise it would be far too big a topic for one article. I’ve split the key changes into five points (and a bonus one at the end for good measure).

I’ll start with the happier trends and work towards the less positive changes.

1. Overall, the production sector is booming

In just under twenty years, the amount spent on feature films in the UK has ballooned from £389 million in 1998 to £1.9 billion in 2017.  Once we take inflation into account, this is an almost threefold increase. Some of the …

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48 trends reshaping the film industry: Part 1 Development and Finance

Each week over the last five years, I have been covering different aspects of the film industry, explaining and illustrating how they function. Next month, I’ll carry on with my new research but for this month I would like to stop and zoom out a little.

By taking detailed data dives each week it’s easy to miss the bigger picture and lose sight of the wood for the trees.  So, for the next four weeks, I’m going to summarise the biggest trends and changes we’ve seen in the film industry recently.

To compile this list, I have been back through all of my old research, conducted new projects, read outside research and solicited suggestions from my industry readership (thank you to everyone who contributed). The result …

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How much of UK distribution will the new Disney Fox company control?

Last week’s media news was dominated by the acquisition of 20th Century Fox by the Walt Disney Corporation.  There’s no doubt that this represents a huge shift in the dynamics of Hollywood as ‘The Big Six’ (studios) become ‘The Big Five’. How the two mega-companies will work together in practice won’t be known for a while but that hasn’t stopped people speculating about the effect it will have on the entertainment sector. As regular readers know, I’m not a fan of speculation, so I shall sit out this particular pontification party.  That said, I have been asked by a few readers for data on how much of a market share the newly enlarged Disney company will have within UK distribution.  So I …

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The shocking state of corporate finance among UK film companies

The vast majority of film research is focused on either the sector as a whole, or studies the performance of a subset of films.  There is very little research into the companies behind the films and how the corporate side of the film business operates.

This is a rather large oversight as films and filmmakers do not operate in a vacuum – they are employed, resourced and assisted by a network of companies, without whom their films wouldn’t get funded, produced or seen.

Which is why I am pleased to be able to discuss the results of two studies that looked at the corporate finances of over 100 film businesses in the UK over a ten-year period.  They provide a vital insight into how the film …

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Should UK broadcasters show more UK films?

Last Friday, the UK’s media regulator, Ofcom, instructed the BBC to increase the number of original UK television programmes it shows at peak-time.  Ofcom pointed to the BBC’s Royal Charter, which includes the duty for BBC output to be “distinctive, creative and [reflect] the UK’s diverse communities”. 

Based on new research, Ofcom said that original, UK-made programming is increasingly important to the UK population and so they have increased the BBC’s obligations towards new, UK-made content.

The Ofcom statement focused on television programmes, but it raises the question: what obligations should public service broadcasters have towards UK-made movies?

So I thought I’d take a look at how British films fare on British public service broadcast networks and ask if Ofcom should extend their new rules to …

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The effect of Brexit on the UK film industry

It’s been almost a year since I last addressed the topic of Brexit on this blog and I’ve wanted to give you an update for a while. The reason you’re reading this now is that the BFI have finally released an internal report (commissioned last summer) which looks at the effect of Brexit on the UK’s screen sector.

The report was put out to tender last August and the finished document delivered to the BFI’s Screen Sector Task Force in January. It wasn’t publicly available, so I put in a Freedom of Information request and last Friday the report was added to the BFI site. I strongly recommend that you download and read the full report yourself. It’s 84 pages long …

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The UK’s secret 20% tax relief for short films

Short films have long been a vital part of the journey of new filmmakers, allowing them to learn new skills, meet like-minded collaborators and showcase their talent.  

Most people’s first few shorts have a budget of almost (or exactly) nothing, with the filmmakers relying on the help of friends and family.  However, as their ambition grows, so too must their budget. The cost of a short film can vary wildly, but over half of the short films submitted to the Raindance Film Festival cost more than £3,000.

Short filmmakers do all sorts of things to raise money for their short films, including crowdfunding, applying to schemes, begging family and spending their own savings.  So it may come as a surprise …

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How important is the UK theatrical market to British films?

Last month, I gave my annual lecture at the National Film and Television School (NFTS), looking at the business side of the UK film industry. It’s an enjoyable lecture to give, in part because the audience is made up from across all the disciplines (so animators, cinematographers, directors, producers, production managers, etc).  This mix often results in a wide variety of questions and this time there was a question I promised to explore further in a blog article.  

The query was sparked by a section of my talk which showed that the majority of the box office income collected by most British films is collected in the UK.  This surprised some attendees as the film industry is normally viewed by professionals as …

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How much of the UK film economy comes from abroad?

As we’ve previously discussed, the UK film economy is currently in bullish form.  One of the major reasons is the high levels of ‘Inward Investment’  i.e. films from other countries which are choosing to shoot in the UK.  

A few people have asked me to give an idea of just how much of the UK film economy comes from abroad.

How much of the UK film economy comes from aboard?

Productions funded by non-British sources have been growing significantly over the past decade. In 2016 they accounted for 85% of the money spent on film production in the UK, up from 67% in 2006.  This is thanks to the recent trend of the UK housing some of the world’s biggest films, such as all …

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