British FIlm Institute writes to authors

On the same day this week, I received a copy of my new book, Understanding Audiences and the Film Industry, published by the BFI, and a copy of the ‘FAQ’ sent out by the BFI to authors. This explains the realignment policy in terms of the impact on Education Publishing. It says that internal consultation re the realignment will end on 22 June and attempts to reassure authors that their rights are ensured if the list is effectively sold/transferred to another agency.

So, I have a book, but some doubts about who might be trying to sell it. I also have six sets of teaching resources jointly published with BFI Education. Add to that, I’ve been a member of the BFI since the early 1970s. I am a trifle miffed that the first formal indication of what the BFI has in mind, should come at such a late stage. The BFI is a publicly-funded body and a national cultural agency. As far as I can see it is facing a genuine funding problem with a freeze on the monies it has received via the UK Film Council. The BFI Directorate certainly should be thinking about how to respond to this situation.

But, funding crises are nothing new and we’ve seen many before. The BFI has many partners in what it does to support film culture in the UK. Previous regimes have usually tried to explain their proposals to partners. This time around, it seems that decisions have been made without all the appropriate consultation discussions. Who knows, the BFI directorate may have learned something? Let’s hope that the flurry of responses hitting the mailboxes at Stephen St. will have some positive results.

BFI to write itself out of education?

The British Film Institute in its latest review looks as though it is set to move its publishing out to another agency. The concentration of bfi activities on its London venues, alongside a withdrawal from direct involvement in education publishing and DVD distribution is a serious blow to the further development of film and media education. The institute is putting more of its resources into its online presence, but can this be a substitute for what it once did in a more concrete way? Awareness of the plans of bfi director Amanda Nevill is now beginning to seep out to a wider constituency of film and media teachers thanks to actions by leading academics, co-ordinated via Meccsa. For detailed information, go to Prof. Pam Cook’s recently launched blog, bfiwatch.