The British Film Institute is convening its Screen Sector Taskforce to help deal with what it has called the “unprecedented challenge” presented to the film industry by coronavirus.
In a letter to the industry, BFI chief executive Ben Roberts said the organization was “keenly aware that the wide-ranging and damaging impact of the virus is being felt across the entire industry and at every possible level.”
The letter was sent soon after the U.K. government called on the public not to visit cinemas and theaters, and also comes as a number of film and TV productions have put production on hold due to coronavirus.
The BFI’s existing Screen Sector Taskforce, which has representation from across the industry, will coordinate conversation with government and discuss potential mitigations.
Roberts said the BFI is in discussion with key industry partners, stakeholders and government to urgently assess the scale of the short and long-term impact on business — and to help shape measures to address them.
“We are focused on ensuring the resilience of the industry and on tackling the huge range of short to mid-term financial, cultural and societal challenges — not least to the exhibition and freelance sectors who are likely to be hit hardest most immediately by the crisis,” said Roberts.
Roberts also addressed the BFI’s role as a financier and funder, amid worries that funding for projects within the industry is being hard hit as businesses look to preserve cash due to the wider economic impact of coronavirus.
“As a funder, we will be as supportive and flexible as possible across existing funding arrangements, including the ability of those organizations and projects to meet contractual requirements,” said Roberts.
“As a production financier, we are obviously supporting our filmmakers with advice on a case-by-case basis. They are all different projects, each case is different and complex with completely different variables, so there isn’t one-size-fits-all guidance, and we are advising them through these very particular challenges as best we can.”
Roberts urged practitioners across the industry and cultural sector to contact the BFI with their key concerns. The organization has set up an email address — email@example.com — as a centralized point for all input and enquires to feed into its impact response recommendations.