All film and media teachers know which of their students are serious about building the qualifications towards a career in the visual arts, including film, TV, radio, advertising and increasingly online production. They’re the ones who show true passion for your subject and the most creativity in producing their own nascent films for projects and accreditation. They’re media literate beyond their years and with an encouraging nudge here and there, have a shot at leaving their mark on the UK’s future mediascape.
Giving these students the boosts and encouragement they need is so easily backed by a workable knowledge of the industries they’ll have the biggest chance of channelling their talents into for fulfilling careers. So what do these industries look like and what are their prospects for the future?
The UK’s film industry has had a bountiful decade and counting largely thanks to the UK Tax Credit system introduced in 2006 which effectively subsidises productions to the tune of 20% of budget. This has allowed not only more affordable domestic productions, but also for foreign (mostly Hollywood) projects to base much of their production in the UK.
On the ground, this has meant while the industry segments working in Distribution and Exhibition amount to around 25,000 employees nationwide and is relatively stable, the number in Production has rocketed from also around 25,000 a decade ago to around 60,000 today. This growth has been almost entirely from inward investment from foreign productions taking advantage of not only a tax sweeteners but at the same time in recognition that the quality of creative work produced in the UK are consistently high.
In addition to the rosy view in film, TV production has grown 50% since 2006 with production revenues exceeding £3billion a year. In total, the estimated number of UK jobs in film, TV, radio and photography in 2015 was 231,000. These figures indicate an industry currently enjoying something of a golden era, but with threats looming on the horizon from the newcomer on the block: digital media. Audience migration from the more traditional media outlets of cinema, TV, newspapers and radio to a web-enabled fully-fragmented digital mediascape through our smartphones and tablets pose a massive disruption to our ‘big screen’ audiences of yesteryear.
The important things to convey to your students is that although evolving quickly, the UK’s media industries have thrived with an influx of foreign investment and productions, and this has lead to a golden age for the creative industries even as audiences migrate to smaller screens. The UK’s creative industries should continue to thrive and hopefully provide abundant outlets of opportunity for your most ambitious and creative students.