NFTS EPCRI Course Launched

Lord Puttnam warns the UK could be caught ‘asleep at the wheel’ during the digital ‘revolution’ unless it wakes up to opportunities in the creative industries.

Eminent British film producer Lord Puttnam has warned that the UK risks being ‘caught asleep at the wheel’ during the digital revolution unless it stimulates entrepreneurship and job creation in the creative industries. Among many other films, Lord Puttnam produced the Oscar-winning (1981) Olympic-themed film Chariots of Fire which was re-released earlier this month in cinemas and on Blu ray and has been turned into a West End theatre production.

Speaking on July 25 at the launch of the world’s first Entrepreneurial Producing diploma for the Creative Industries, run by the NFTS and supported by Ingenious Media, Lord Puttnam told an audience of entrepreneurs from across Film, TV, Music, Games, Theatre, Publishing, Online, that the course had a vital to role to play in ensuring that the UK responded to the opportunities and challenges of the digital revolution:

“It is vital that people such as yourselves retain an understanding of the developing technologies that drive your markets as well as the simple economics. Had we in the UK really focused on those digital skills and entrepreneurship two decades ago, we might now be in a position to generate the type of growth in jobs and revenue we so desperately need.”

A recent report on UK film from the British Video Association indicated that just over 12% of the revenues in the video/DVD window were from digital rental or retail. This is one indicator of changing patterns of consumption which are transforming the creative industries across the world. With this in mind, Lord Puttnam said the UK risked missing opportunities in Asia and elsewhere around the world: “Just looking at the broadband speeds available in some of the more affluent areas of Asia, such as Singapore or South Korea, you begin to get a sense of the direction in which things are heading and the nature of the opportunity that’s opened up.”

He added : “I’d argue that we have focused far too much on supporting and protecting subsidies for the supply-side of production, and nothing like enough on growth of the demand-side – particularly beyond our European boundaries.
If anything we’ve developed something of that same ‘soup kitchen’ mentality that’s bedevilled much of the European industry for the past forty or so years.”

He underlined the way in which much greater development of entrepreneurial skills was imperative if the UK is maintain its competitiveness in the face of massive change: “In fact, it is my belief that we have reached a Radio Caroline moment. This is the type of political societal shift in which mainstream attitudes find themselves having fallen badly behind what’s probably best described as ‘the cultural zeitgeist. The reality is that consumer behaviour has changed and unless we find ways to effectively exploit these new digital platforms then the overall revenues available to us will continue to shrink. We need every scrap of entrepreneurship available to us."

Comparing the UK to the United States, Lord Puttnam called for more jobs to be created by encouraging more ‘start-up’ companies: “…(it is) what the UK should be doing, and arguably could be doing rather more easily than the U.S given the wealth of creativity and imagination we have at our disposal.”

He praised the NFTS’ new Entrepreneurial Producing diploma course, saying that it could ‘inspire’ a generation of new entrepreneurs: “It is my most sincere hope that this new (Entrepreneurial Producing) course will be a catalyst which inspires a whole series of “launch pads” right across the 7 sectors it covers.”

Patrick McKenna, whose company Ingenious Media has been a significant financier of British films, television and music over the last decade, says: “I am delighted to support this new course. Building business capacity in the UK’s cultural and creative industries is vital to our future competitiveness. We need entrepreneurs, financiers and managers who truly understand the creative process as well as business and commerce. My hope is that this course will make a significant contribution to achieving these goals.”

Nik Powell, Director of the NFTS and co-founder of Virgin and Palace Pictures, says:
“The creative industries no longer operate in restricted silos – they’re converging in exciting and innovative ways driven by the digital revolution. So whether it be the Metropolitan Opera in New York securing millions in new revenue from feeds to global cinema audiences; new online film services like MUBI reaching into countries like Poland and Turkey; the phenomenal rise of e-publishing; or disruptive technologies bubbling up in music, television and branding, this really is a brave new world and entrepreneurs need to adapt or get left behind.”

Pictured above at the course launch: NFTS Director Nik Powell, Lord Puttnam CBE, Founder & CEO of Ingenious Media Patrick McKenna, and EPCRI Course Leader Chris Auty.

For more information on the course and how to apply online, click here.