Quotes From The Moments Worth Paying For LFF Panel

Friday, October 26 2012
Quotes From The Moments Worth Paying For LFF Panel

The Moments Worth Paying For panel held during the London Film Festival was part of a whole raft of activity around the LFF, taking its remit beyond merely showcasing some cracking films from around the world.

It gave the Industry Trust and the Film Distributors’ Association, the two driving organisations behind the event, the chance to showcase the ongoing effects of piracy on our business and to develop themes in the war against copyright infringement, as well as showcasing the weapons being used to fight that war.

It pulled together not just the Trust and the FDA, but the Federation Against Copyright Theft too. All three outlined their work to the attendees at the debate, held at the BFI Southbank, using presentations to run through their work. Those presenting were then joined on stage by talent working behind the cameras in the UK film industry, who personalised that war by looking at the devastating effects it could have on them. Oh, and the whole thing was chaired by Tim Murray from The  Raygun. 

Instead of just running through a verbatim transcript of the event, we thought instead we’d offer up 10 choice comments from the event, with some background to them.

So here then, at the 10 Quotes From The Moments Worth Paying For London Film Festival Panel…

1. “We are very vulnerable.” 

FDA chief executive Mark Batey opened his presentation by outlining just how much film distributors at the theatrical coalface stand to lose. With 10,000 presentations of feature films on screens nationwide every day of the year except December 25, it is, as he noted, “a big old canvas out there”. What’s more, distributors invest a third of a billion pounds in P&A costs (prints and advertising) every year, making a huge investment beyond the costs already involved in merely making a film. “It creates a huge demand,” he said, “and audiences want to live in the new.”

2. “A lot of children’s bedrooms are multimedia centres now,” said the FDA’s Batey. “It’s too late to wait until kids are in their teens.” 

“People start getting involved in piracy between [the ages of] 11 and 13,” added the Industry Trust’s Liz Bales. Both were addressing the educational aspects of the fight against piracy and how important it is to begin the process at a younger age, before children and young adults have succumbed to the lure of copyright infringement. For each organisation, ediucation is a key element of their work.

3. “We are, to some extent,” the Federation Against Copyright Theft’s Eddy Leviten said, “playing catch up.” 

For while the number of known pirate copies emanating from camcordered versions in UK cinemas has slowed right down, they’re still coming from other countries and ever-changing and improving technology is on the sicde of the pirates. Smaller phones for filming (secreted, as Leviten illustrated, in Coca Cola containers, for example) and even voice recorders (enabling pirates to “dub” pirate copies in different languages from the same version) mean that the industry has to be as vigilant as ever. Leviten likened it to an “arms race”, as well as saying: “We can never say we can get rid of piracy.” 

 4. “[Films have] such an emotional impact, Education is not about shouting that piracy is wrong,” said the Industry Trust’s Liz Bales, outlining her organisation’s work and role in the fight against the scourge of piracy.

She explained its role to inform and inspire people to not become involved in piracy and to pay for those moments that offer so much…

In her presentation she pointed to some equally stark figures, that showed more than one in five were infringing copyright, with 60 per cent watching films from torrents…

 5. “Our position is that the solution [to piracy] is a blend of enforcement, education and access. We’re most involved with the access, giving the consumers the opportunity to watch it legally when they want to, in the right format,” said the BFI’s Alex Stolz.

As well as outlining the BFI’s position, he also gave voice to the kind of comment that everyone across the panel agreed on. Accessibility, offering more choice to consumers, is one of the key strands in fighting piracy.

 6. “Some films people are happy to buy on DVD but aren’t worth a cinema ticket. Piracy [illegal downloading] is almost like a third option, it’s incredibly damaging,” Jonathan Sothcott, independent producer, now a partner in Chata Pictures.

As a producer of 20 or so films, many at a limited theatrical platform release or DTV, he knows a thing or two about the threat to piracy. “By 4pm on the day of release, my films are available to illegally download. It’s really difficult. With low budget movies, people tend to wait until the weekly shop [at the end of the week] to buy things, chances are they’ll have grabbed it for free already.” Sothcott and Bales both referred to illegal downloads as effectively another format…

7. “Netflix and LoveFilm are six quid a month, so there really is no excuse,” said Paul Andrew Williams, a British indie director, whose outings so far include London To Brighton, Cherry Tree Lane and London Film Festival hit Song For Marion.

One of the more entertaining and outspoken panellists, he even held his hand up and said he is now a reformed illegal downloader.

8. “We need to engage the ISPs and the search engines,” said FACT’s Eddy Leviten, a view backed up by the rest of the panel.

Getting to illegal downloads so quickly via Google is “totally unacceptable”, they agreed. This is one of the toughest aspects of the battle, but one all the industry groups are working towards.

9. “You need more public prosecutions, to show people these are the consequences,” concluded Paul Andrew Williams.

He said that firmer and higher profile sentencing for illegal downloaders and other copyright infringers.

10. “The Digital Economy Act is coming through, from a message perspective, this is going to say ‘this is wrong, this is what’s going to happen.”

Liz Bales from the Industry Trust outlined the need for the DEA to be pushed through and come into full effect, enabling the industry to begin to see the benefits of the much-delayed, oft-discussed and crucial piece of legislation.

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