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CinEcoSA conference on Film and Television Policies

Roderik Smits attended the CinEcoSA international conference on Film and Television Policies in English-speaking Countries on 25 October 2013. The conference had been organised at Université Paris 8, one of the main departments dedicated to Film Studies in France. CinEcoSA was created five years ago, with the aim to study Film and Television in English speaking countries from an economic and cultural perspective. A number of topics were discussed in this year’s session, which included an interesting mix of academics from France, Australia and Great Britain (see full programme).

 CinEcoSA conference on Film and Television Policies in English-speaking Countries, Université Paris 8, October 2013.

CinEcoSA conference on Film and Television Policies in English-speaking Countries, Université Paris 8, October 2013.

If one has the impression that the subject of film policies is a ‘cold’ topic to study, this conference proved the contrary. Using historical and contemporary examples, the various presentations stressed the relevance of film policy to the production, distribution and marketing of feature films. This argument was developed with references to ‘front page’ stories about industry professionals who were ‘outraged’ and ‘up in arms’. As co-organiser Nolwenn Mingant concluded at the end of the day: “We are definitely in an area of emotion and tension that is not simply clear-cut law of legislative decision”.

The programme started with presentations that discussed different aspects of film and television policy, such as tax credit in California, the role of an independent organization like the British Board of Film Classification, and the meaning of quality to selective aid schemes in France and the UK. The focus subsequently shifted to specific cases on film and television policies within Australia, Scotland and the UK. This provided interesting insights in the ambivalent relationship between the government and the leading independent bodies in these countries, and its impact on industry discourse. It raises issues about the balance of power – that is, between centralised decision-making and regional decision-making, as Roger Shannon (Edge Hill University) and Sian Barber (Queen’s University Belfast) exemplified for Britain.

Of course, there is also the challenge of finding a balance between culture, creativity and economy, a balance that is constantly renegotiated and reinvented, especially with the emergence of new technologies. For example, Michael Franklin (University of St. Andrews) signalled key changes in funding patterns towards digital innovation, marketing and distribution. An understanding of such changes in government and regional policy schemes, which may account for new digital opportunities, is also one of the core concerns in the MeCETES project: How could policy be changed to ensure the development of cross-border digital distribution structures within Europe?

Although the focus this year was specifically on film and television policies in English-speaking countries, the organisers intend to include emerging countries in the next conference. This will enable them to improve their understanding of film and television policies, and trace the leading policy models in the industry. For the MeCETES project, the conference has painted a nuanced picture of film policy in various countries, and reminds us not only to deal with European policy, but also to concentrate on national and regional policies.

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