UK Screen is doing its bit to raise the profile of the facilities sector with a 100-page document surveying the financial impact of the sector – which includes post production, studios, outside broadcast and camera hire companies – on the UK economy. The survey, based on extensive analysis of the sector from 2006-08, was launched at an event at NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) if front of an audience of mainly suits.

UK Screen’s report goes into great detail about the different trends and challenges in each of the key areas within the sector. The headline figures coming out of it are worth emphasising here though as they really bring home the sheer size and scale of a sector that many underestimate in terms of its value and the number of people it employs. There are 1,300 companies in the facilities sector employing 25,000 people, and with a combined turnover of £2.2bn. The challenge is now to ensure those that matter in government and elsewhere are made aware of this.

Back to the launch event… UK Screen CEO Gaynor Davenport kicked things off with a three and a half minute reel showcasing the film, ads and TV work of the sector, before Jonathan Olsberg of strategic consultancy Olsberg|SPI (which produced the report along with economic development and research consultancy TBR) took over to talk about how there’s a need to challenge the argument that the facilities sector has merely a supporting role as a service provider.

He added that he doesn’t think there’s enough awareness of the sector or its activities. The launch of the report, he said, was the start of a journey to change all this.

Andrew Graves, the md of TBR, was next, commenting that, “As someone outside looking in, the capabilities of the sector are awe inspiring”. He believes the report should not only inform policy-making but assist facilities in decision-making and in searching out market opportunities. He pointed out that the turnover of the facilities sector is larger than the whole of the UK independent TV production sector and two-thirds of the UK’s film sector.

Olsberg|SPI’s Libbie McQuillan was next on the podium and raised the issue of the lack of a terms of trade for companies within the facilities sector, and that IP from vfx/graphics isn’t shared with post production houses.

Colin Brown, The UK Film Council’s British Film Commissioner (who’s also on the board of UK Screen), wrapped things up by talking about the success of the UK’s facilities sector on the global stage, and, referring back to the opening showreel, said there’s a need for people to know the size and importance of the sector and for the message to get out there that: “We’re the guys who get them to look like that”.

Finally, UK Screen addressed the issue of the report being two years out of date and acknowledged that plenty has changed during the recession. Davenport said she will “capture change" to update the report, at least to some degree, with a more current picture of the sector.

Staff Reporter

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