Parliament has launched a new inquiry into British film and high-end TV, examining issues around skills and retention as well as challenges posed from the rise of artificial intelligence.
MPs on the culture, media and sport committee will investigate what needs to be done to maintain and enhance the UK as a global destination for production and how the independent film production sector can best be supported.
The committee will also examine challenges for British cinemas, following the recent Cineworld restructure and the collapse of the Empire chain.
The inquiry comes 20 years on from the predecessor committee’s report on the British film industry, which made recommendations around tax regimes, training and development. It also comes as major film and TV productions have ground to a halt due to the joint actors’ and writers’ strike in the US, which focuses on issues such as residual payments from streaming platforms and the use of AI.
Caroline Dinenage, chair of the CMS committee, said: “Thousands of cinemagoers enjoying the new Barbie film this weekend will get to see the latest success story for the British film and high-end TV industry, with the construction of Barbieland from scratch at a studio in the UK demonstrating the sector’s excellent track record in attracting blockbusters to our shores.
“We will be looking at how to maintain the attractiveness of the UK as a global destination for production while ensuring independent films, similar to recent hits Rye Lane and Aftersun, can be made and seen.
“The financial problems encountered by big-name cinema chains have highlighted the importance of protecting and promoting the UK’s screen heritage, while the actors’ and writers’ strikes in the United States show the importance of getting ahead of the game in adapting skills and responding to the challenges of artificial intelligence.”
Dinenage said the committee wanted to ensure the industry and government were thinking of the future to maintain and enhance a sector that is hugely important to the economy and culture of the UK as well as to its “power on the world stage”.
Speaking to the Guardian, the Oscar-winning producer David Puttnam also recently called on the film industry to address its yawning skills gap and grow audiences before the UK is eclipsed as a cinematic powerhouse.
He also said further work was necessary to draw audiences back to cinemas, including tackling the problem at a grassroots level. “I think more attention needs to be paid to smaller communities. Does your local cinema cater really to you? Is it well run? Is it clean?” he said.
Figures for last year released by the British Film Institute show the combined spend by film and high-end television production reached £6.27bn, a record high and £1.83bn higher than in 2019.
High-end television production accounted for £4.3bn, with £1.97bn spent on feature film production. Inward investment high-end TV productions (defined as scripted television projects with a minimum core expenditure of £1m per broadcast hour) made last year included Bridgerton, Happy Valley and Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power.
The committee is inviting anyone with experience working in the sector to submit evidence via its online portal by 19 September. MPs have yet to confirm who will be asked to give in-person testimony.