Published on: 11 July 2019 in Industry

Do the UK screen industries need to wake up to streaming?

Reading time: 2 minutes and 17 seconds

It’s no secret that streaming platforms hold a huge influence over the world of film and TV, and with Netflix taking over at Shepperton Studios, their influence in the UK could now be even more profound — but have the UK Screen Industries done enough to adapt?

Earlier this week, producer Andy Paterson gave an interview to the Guardian in which he predicted the death of the UK indie film industry at the hands of SVOD platforms. One of the reasons for his pessimism was his belief that the industry had too narrow focus: “I am passionate about producing, but I am horrified at the way this country develops and treats its producing talent. We’re becoming an industry focused only on servicing the colossal range of inward investment films and TV series attracted by the tax credit, the dollar and working here, or making the very low-budget films from emerging directors, which are really all the British Film Institute (BFI) and BBC Films can afford to do.”   

But others have pointed to different areas where the UK industry might be caught napping. Back in May, Directors UK CEO Andrew Chowns told the House of Lords Communications Committee that SVODs were providing a “wake up call in terms of embracing innovation and creativity” for public service broadcasters. Noting that Directors UK members frequently praised the level of creative support that companies such as Netflix provide, Andrew argued that traditional broadcasters risk losing talent if they don’t match the SVODs’ care for creatives: “I think it is a moment for the whole creative community to reflect…there is a risk that a whole generation will find it more exciting and unexpected to be on YouTube and see what comes out of it.”

For better or worse, it seems clear that the traditional means of both broadcasting and filmmaking are at a crossroads in the UK — and it’s important that directors are part of the conversation. We’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on what the industry needs to do to be fighting fit for the streaming age. What needs to change, and what needs to be kept at all costs? Or will it all blow over? Let us know by commenting below or emailing communications@directors.uk.com.

Have Your Say

Anonymous
12.07.19

You only have to look at what's on UK terrestrial channels and what's on the SVOD's to realise why talent, and indeed audiences are going to the latter. Netflix etc., are an open door for originality and creativity, they're hungry for it. The terrestrial channels have such narrow thinking for what they want, little bravery and are generally risk averse. There are few exceptions, Years and Years, Peaky Blinders, but generally it's the same old, same old. On the film side, it's rare that a UK indigenous film does well, even in the UK! Brit films are less attractive to audiences than those from across the water, and when BFI and BBC budgets are so low, they're never going to produce films that have the stars and production values audiences go to see.

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