BFI urges UK film industry to tackle ‘critical’ lack of crew

BFI Open Cinemas
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The British Film Institute recommends that 1% of the sector’s income should be spent on addressing the issue of crew shortage, it has been announced. 

The British Film Institute has completed its first skills review since 2017, immediately followed by a call-to-arms to urge the UK film industry to invest in tackling a looming skills shortage. The UK film sector is in rude health, currently growing at a quicker pace than it is bringing new entrants into the sector. As such, the BFI has stated that 20,770 new full-time employees are needed by 2025 to prevent the industry from hitting a wall, preventing further growth.

With studio space in London becoming increasingly rare, film studios are appearing all over the country but the supply of crews are in danger of not meeting the continually rising demand. In some cases, crew levels are already insufficient.

The announcement comes as no surprise: we remember a BFI meeting we sat in a few years ago when a few producers discussed the issue then, revealing that they’d taken to offering young people film industry jobs at bus stops and the like, so desperate were they for new crew. There was also a large ad campaign running in front of films at cinemas not so long back, but it seems that more needs to be done to fully address the issue.

Notably, the report states that the stress that is being placed on the sector by crew shortages is ‘especially threatening the U.K.’s independent film sector, which is struggling to compete for crew as well as putting additional pressure on already very stretched budgets’.

The BFI’s suggestion is that 1% of the sector’s profits (estimated to be over £7.6bn by 2025) should be invested back into training and attracting young people into the industry.

The other side of this problem is experienced crew retention, which is also in need of a boost. The common sense thinking here is that if crew levels are boosted, existing, experienced crews will be less stressed and retention rates across the industry will improve for seasoned crew members too. In many ways, it’s a great position for the UK screen industry to be in, grossing more than any other similar industry in the world, bar the US. However, unless action is taken soon, it seems like a host of pressing issues could threaten that position.

The Hollywood Reporter

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