Magazine article Screen International

The Problem with the 7% Stat

Magazine article Screen International

The Problem with the 7% Stat

Article excerpt

Producer Ken Marshall responds to the recent BFI statistics and calls for more support for the UK's independent producers.

A number of UK producers were upset at the recent data presented by the BFI at the Screen Film Summit that only 7% of UK films were profitable (Click here to read the original story and to see how the data was compiled).

Screen asked producer Ken Marshall of Steel Mill Pictures (Filth, Song For Marion) to explain why he thinks these stats don't paint the whole picture of a film's success.

These figures portray the business of filmmaking in an incredibly negative light. It is incredibly hard raising equity for film in the current economic climate, and these kind of headlines definitely do not help the cause. Why invest in film when there are so many other safer bets out there for investors?

While I appreciate the hard work that has gone into calculating these numbers and the desire to be transparent, I also feel it is rather irresponsible to release these numbers to the public without consulting with established filmmakers first to determine how best to calculate and evaluate the merit of some of the films that are being examined for their profitability.

And if the BFI is to release depressing statistics such as these, then they should be responsible for finding a press angle to make sure there is equally a positive spin on the British industry and not to dissuade potential investors.

What titles exactly have been used to make an overall assumption of that only 7% of films are profitable? What genres are more profitable than others? What were the finance structures for these films? What percentage had broadcaster and/or BFI backing, and did this affect profitability?

How many of these films were directed and/or produced by first-time filmmakers? Did any of these films have a distributor and/or sales agent attached before they went into production? What percentage of films were perhaps not profitable but actually generated a lot of income to financiers via premiums and interest?

What percentage of films had to take out bridging loans or borrow expensive money in pre-production, to cash-flow prep and guarantee the film doesn't stall during the legal closing process?

Also, at what stage of the film's life cycle are we looking at? …

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