BFI New Horizons for UK Film: Investing in education and audiences, filmmaking and film heritage – consultation response from Animation Alliance UK

Animation Alliance UK advocates for the support of independent animation in the UK. Our members represent a wide range of creative and professional practice and engagement – animators, artists and filmmakers, producers, programmers, curators, writers and academics; they are internationally respected and celebrated, and include BAFTA and Academy Award nominees and winners.

You can find a list of our members here:

Whilst many of our members, inevitably, work across both cultural and commercial contexts, the focus of the Alliance is on independent creative practice and cultural film.

In September 2011, we wrote to the Film Policy Review.

We noted the extensive, intrinsic and instrumental public value of independent animation, and some of the many reasons why it merits public support and investment; how animation is a site for innovation, risk-taking and the development of new techniques, instinctively cross-platform, an integral part of the digital revolution, and popular.

We described how British animated short film has enjoyed an amazing success over 25 years, and that the UK achieved international renown as a prolific centre of excellence for animated short film because of a uniquely British model of sustained public support from public service broadcasters and from public film and arts funding bodies, that allowed creative production free from commercial constraint.

That support has all but evaporated, and we expressed our concern at the current lack of institutional support for independent animation, and how a public remit to strategically support animation (in England) has seemed to languish in a chasm between the responsibilities Arts Council England and UK Film Council/BFI.

We therefore welcomed the recommendation in A Future for British Film for ‘an increased focus on the animation sector’ by the BFI, and Lord Smith’s assurance that this includes support for independent and short animation.

Animation Alliance UK strongly welcomes and endorses the plans outlined in New Horizons for UK Film. We appreciate that these are high-level ambitions and that as such they are, necessarily, broadly stated. So we are keen to explore further what the plans mean for independent animation and its audiences.

We are pleased to note that proposals for development and production make explicit reference to backing for animation, and an acknowledgment that animation has not always received sufficient support. We hope to see support for contemporary and innovative animated filmmaking practice, and recognition that short animated films merit development production support in their own right.

Just as film is arguably the most popular art form today, so animation is the most pervasive. We hope that the value and importance of animation will be distinctly recognised not only through the investment in skills, development and production, but across the strategic priorities – education, audiences and archive.

The UK’s animation heritage is for the most part invisible. And it is in independent animation that much innovation and diversification around digital content, forms and distribution is taking place, and where the commercial and cultural interconnect and cross-pollinate.

We are pleased that BFI has agreed to meet members of Animation Alliance UK to discuss how implementation of the Future Plan can best serve the filmmaking talent of the independent animation sector and its audience and we very much look forward to these discussions.

5 June 2012