Magazine article Screen International

CTBF: Charity Begins at Home

Magazine article Screen International

CTBF: Charity Begins at Home

Article excerpt

As the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund (CTBF) prepares to host a premiere event around Downton Abbey, CEO Richard Wilson talks to Michael Rosser about how the charity is adapting to changes in the industry.

The Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund (CTBF) is set to host the premiere screening of Downton Abbey series 5 at London's Empire Leicester Square cinema tonight (Sept 17), including a Q&A with creator Julian Fellowes and stars Jim Carter, Laura Carmichael and Lesley Nicol.

It marks the first time in its 90-year history that the charity has staged a TV premiere on such a grand scale, having previously been best known for its annual Royal Film Performance. (Last year's screening of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom made headlines when the death of Nelson Mandela was announced on stage at the end of the film.)

"This is the perfect example of where we want to go as a charity," CTBF chief executive Richard Wilson told ScreenDaily.

"It is that perfect mix of an iconic British TV drama series showing in an iconic cinema in Leicester Square. [The Empire was the site of the first Royal Film Performance, A Matter of Life and Death, in 1946.]

"It's got a cross-platform feel to it and that's exactly what we are as a charity. We don't want to be thought of as just cinema or television. Hopefully, it's the start of things to come."

The leading charity for people who work or have worked behind the scenes in the UK film, cinema and commercial television is looking to place increased emphasis on the TV side of the business.

"It's an area that we're really focussing on right now in terms of strengthening our links with the rapidly changing television sector," said Wilson.

"We want to ensure that our role in a vastly expanding television marketplace is right up there with the contribution we make to beneficiaries across film and cinema."

Training and awards

The CTBF has supported the TV industry since the 1950s when the ITV franchises were first introduced. But Wilson, who took on the CEO role at the charity in Dec 2012, wants to offer more help for people in TV.

"The first thing we will focus on is training and awards," said Wilson.

"We already run the Jon Brabourne Awards (JBAs), which grants up to £5,000 to individuals, supporting a variety of training projects and, indeed, the making of films. I feel strongly that we need to run a parallel process in television."

The JBAs give young talent who come from disadvantage backgrounds or who have been hit by accident or illness a first firm foothold to help them begin their career in film and television.

Increasing profile

Wilson is also on a mission to increase awareness of the charity, with the Downton Abbey premiere part of that drive. …

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