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The Rise and Fall of the UK Film Council

Gillian Doyle, Philip Schlesinger, Raymond Boyle, Lisa Kelly

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A unique study of UK film policy set in its political, economic and international contexts

Drawing on interviews with leading film executives, politicians and industry stakeholders, including Alan Parker, Stewart Till and Tim Bevan, this book provides an empirically grounded analysis of the rise and unexpected fall of the UK Film Council, the key strategic body responsible for supporting film in the UK for over a decade. As well as offering a critical overview of the political, policy and technological contexts which framed the organisation’s creation, existence and eventual demise, the book provides a probing analysis of the tensions between national and global interests in an increasingly transnational film industry, not least underlining how both US and EU interests and pressures have played themselves out. It therefore provides a timely and significant investigation into the contemporary policy environment for film in the 21st century.

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Part I: Background
Chapter 1: Why does film policy matter?
Chapter 2: Film policy in the UK: 1920s-1979
Part II: Agenda for the UK Film Council
Chapter 3: The creation of the Film Council
Chapter 4: From ‘sustainability’ to ‘competitive industry’
Part III: Impact
Chapter 5 Flying too close to the sun?
Chapter 6: The Production Funds
Chapter 7: Digital – a missed opportunity?
Chapter 8: Performance against objectives
Part IV: Strategic Lessons
Chapter 9: The last days of the UK Film Council
Chapter 10: Conclusions
Appendix 1: UKFC ‘family’ of partner organisations

About the Author

Gillian Doyle is Professor of Media Economics and Director of the Centre for Cultural Policy Research (CCPR) at the University of Glasgow where she directs Glasgow’s MSc in Media Management. She has led a number of RCUK funded projects on media economics and policy and conducted studies for the Council of Europe, the European Commission and the OECD and her research has been translated and published in several languages. Gillian is former President of the Association for Cultural Economics International (ACEI).

Philip Schlesinger is Professor in Cultural Policy at the University of Glasgow and Deputy Director of CREATe, the RCUK Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy. Author of Putting Reality Together and Media, State and Nation, his latest, co-authored, book is Curators of Cultural Enterprise. A Fellow of the RSE and the Academy of Social Sciences, and an editor of Media, Culture & Society, he is presently researching EU cultural policy and also developments in British film policy.

Raymond Boyle is Professor of Communications based within the Centre for Cultural Policy Research at the University of Glasgow. He has published widely on media and sports issues. His most recent books include The Television Entrepreneurs (2012) with Lisa Kelly and PowerPlay: Sport the Media and Popular Culture (2009) with Richard Haynes. He also sits on the editorial board of Media, Culture and Society.

Lisa Kelly graduated in Communication and Mass Media (BA Hons) from Glasgow Caledonian University and completed an MPhil and PhD in Theatre, Film and Television Studies at the University of Glasgow. She is a former Research Associate at the Centre for Cultural Policy Research and is now Lecturer in Television Studies at the University of Glasgow


‘A highly readable academic study has arrived to assess the birth, life and death of the UKFC… It’s a logical approach handled with crisp thoroughness.’

- Stephen Mayne, PopMatters
'An in-depth study of the only period when the UK had a government for whom film policy did matter...A cogent, lucid account of what the Film Council achieved in its short life, how it did it, under what constraints.'
- Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, LSE British Politics and Policy Blog

Far more than a study of one British institution, this book is a major contribution to studies of film policy, and indeed cultural policy more generally. Its analysis of tensions between creative and commercial rationales is revealing and extremely insightful.

Professor David Hesmondhalgh, University of Leeds