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Wednesday, 25 March, 1998, 09:36 GMT
British cinema poised for shake-up
Flag and film
Flying the flag: Britain's film industry is riding high, but how can such success last?
In the wake of the Oscar presentations, the British government is publishing a report designed to build on the recent success of movie-making in the UK.

The industry has suffered a chequered history, although commentators say it is now healthier than at any time in recent memory. The aim of the report is to set out ways of stabilising the roller-coaster business in preparation for future growth.

The Full Monty
Britan's The Full Monty took the UK by storm
Among the likely recommendations will be a call for closer links between producers and City financiers and the idea that US studios should invest a percentage of their UK takings in Britain.

Other issues at stake will include formal training for the industry's workforce, funding and distribution.

The report has been compiled by the Film Industry Task Force, comprising government ministers and experts from across Britain's movie business. The task force is seen as an indication of how seriously the Government sees the future of Britain's "creative economy".

Renewed bout of optimism

Recent successes such as the Full Monty, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bean and Trainspotting have boosted the industry's confidence.

BFC
The British Film Commission draws film makers into the UK
But experts say the foundations are fragile and more must be done to build a formal structure, emulating, to a degree, Hollywood's highly successful studio system.

"We believe this is a business that can grow and grow considerably," said Steve Norris, Britain's Film Commissioner with the government funded British Film Commission.

Once no more than a cyclical cottage industry, Mr Norris believes the film industry could be a major player in the wider economy.

Tourism spin-off

"It provides employment for a skilled and well-paid workforce and the benefits feed through the economy into areas such as the tourist industry," says Mr Norris.

Four Weddings
Four Weddings and a Funeral was a turning point in the fortunes of UK cinema
The Mel Gibson blockbuster Braveheart is a case in point, he says - it was widely credited with helping boost the number of foreign visitors to Scotland.

Film makers in the UK have already witnessed the renewed faith in their craft, receiving 92m National Lottery grant and a 43m Arts Council award.

The money was split between three film consortia and is expected to yield around 90 new movies over five years.

But with or without homegrown investment, Britain will remain a prime location for American movie producers, says Mr Norris.

Britain has it all

"We are the only country in the world where an American film director can arrive with a script under his arm and know that everything is ready and available," he says.

"Camera crews; lighting engineers; make-up artists; post production; we've got it all here and the cost of filming here is 20 to 25% cheaper than in the US."

It is this expertise that has seen some of the most popular films of recent times - Star Wars, Superman and Batman - made entirely in Britain.

See also:

24 Mar 98 | film
Money makes the reel go round
24 Mar 98 | Oscars
Brits sink at Oscars
31 Dec 97 | Events of the year
British entertainment goes all the way
12 Mar 98 | UK
Full Monty tops Bafta list
24 Mar 98 | Oscars
Titanic triumphs
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