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Day of British Film

Arts Council of England

Rodney Wilson

He was born 1942, in Maidenhead, Berkshire.

Education: 1960-65 Berkshire College of Art, Camberwell School of Art, Hornsey College of Art.

Career : 1965-69 Assistant Lecturer in Drawing and Painting , Loughbourgh College of Art, 1970 - present Arts Council of England, 1986 - present Director of the Film, Video and Broadcasting Department.

The Arts Council's role in the audio-visual sphere

The Arts Council's role is concerned with the arts and takes two main forms:
  1. Programmes on the arts
  2. Artists film and video.
The presentation during the Art Film Festival will concentrate on the main thrust of the Film, Video and Broadcasting Department's work, which is the direct engagement with broadcast television. We are engaged with other kinds of production, video installations for galleries and educational dance videos are two examples. The top priority is to make strategic interventions in programme-making for network television broadcast. To do this we co-produce programmes made by independent producers with television partners, such as the BBC or Channel 4. The principles underlying the department's broadcast policy are:

The Arts Council is a small player in relation to the media industries. Our objective is to influence the agenda of the television companies by introducing new programme ideas and collaborating on higher cost arts documentaries which would not be made without our involment. The most important underlying new idea in the 90's is Original Work for Television. The intention is to involve artists more closely in the programme-making process through collaborations between artists and directors. Choreographers in dance for the Camera, composers in Sound on Film and performance artists in Expanding Pictures. Film and video artists schemes involve these artists making work for television through projects like 1 Minute Television, Midnight Underground and Animate!. The other important aspect of this strategy is to concentrate on short-length programmes, which range in length from 1 minute to 15 minutes. The idea is to find new ways of creating an impact on the television schedules, by making intense, diverse and exciting programmes that catch audiences by surprise. The wide range of programmes we support is linked by the idea of innovation, in the programme making style, the subject matter or the intepretation of the subject.

The Presentation

The presentation during the Art Film Festival will explore Innovation and arts programming through a number of themes, illustrated with extracts and complete short-length films.
  1. Modes of representation, or what is an arts documentary ? A look at dramatisation and drama-documentaries. Extracts will include: Mark Getler /director Phil Mulloy/, Schiele in Prison /director Mick Gold/, Refuse to Dance /director Anne Forman/
  2. Art and conflict. Art that comments on or deals with subjects that have social or political implications present particular challenges for commissioning agencies and filmmakers. Some examples, including: Dread Beat n'Blood /director Franco Rosso/, Picturing Derry /director Dave Fox and Sylvia Stevens/, Frantz Fanon /director Isaac Julien/.
  3. Short-length programming: art in the age of satellite television. This section will look at the ways in which contemporary, often aesthetically difficult work can be presented on network television in ways that are innovative but accessible. Just completed films will be shown from series currently in production, including: Sound of Film, Expanding Pictures.
  4. Does the classic arts documentary have a future ? Comments on the problems of how to find a place for one-off films that examine and talk about painting, or any other art-form, in an in-depth way. What are the strategies for interesting television ? A new arts documentary co-produced with BBC 1 and just completed will be shown in its entirety: Degas: The Old Man Mad about Art /director Mischa Scorer, 52 mins/

National Film and Television School

The NFTS has a vital role to play in the health of the film and television industry. /Sue Lawley, broadcaster, NFTS Governor/

The National Film and Television School is only 23 years old but it is already earned its reputation, producing a consistent stream of talented, creative and successful graduates who have refreshed the television and film world. For two decades the NFTS has been teaching both creative and commercial skills with extraordinary success. The achievment of its graduates, around the world and in every part of the industry, has been out of all proportion to their numbers. Since 1973 students at the NFTS have won more than 250 awards for their films at international festivals and industry ceremonies. In 1992 the NFTS won the Ampas Honorary Foreign Film Award, known as Student Oscar, for the third time.

Today, more then ever before, moving images pervade every part of our lives and our culture. The people who are responsible for creating those images have an incalculable effect on well-being of our society, and a growing impact on the health of our economy. The tension between commerce, creativity and social responsability has always been the lifeblood of our business. It's that tension which has given us popular cinema, serious as well as entertaining television, and allowed both media to become art forms in their own right. The quality and experience of NFTS training will continue to open doors for Britain's young creative professionals. In doing so it will go on meeting the needs of Britain's television and film industries, helping them to maintain their worldwide reputation for quality and creativity. / David Puttnam, Chairman of the Board of Governors/

The NFTS runs two major teaching programmes:

  1. The Full-Time Programme covering 10 specialistt areas /production,screenwriting,direction-fiction and documentary, animation, art direction/production design, cinematography, sound, editing, music composition and screen studies/.
  2. The Umbrella Programme comprising:
    1. The Short Course Unit /National Short Course Training Programme/. The programme is designed to respond inmediately to the needs and demands of the industry to fill skill shortages and update qualifications in changing technical enviroment. Courses are open to all those working in the film and television industries, whether staff or freelance.
    2. Intensive workshop within Full-Time Programme.
    3. Industry - linked symposia and seminars for members of the profession as well as students.

Non-competitive screening of NFTS student films

BBC Television

Keith Alexander

Keith Alexander, editor Arts Features, BBC Television.

He started in BBC Scotland in 1973 as a trainee film editor. After working freelance as a director on current affairs and arts programmes, he became Head of Music and Arts in Scotland in 1983 and also had responsability for all chamber music output and Edinburgh Festival coverage on BBC2 network. In 1989 he moved to London as Editor of Arts Features and has since concentrated on making programmes devoted to design and the visual arts.

Keith has produced series such as Relative Values, about the ways in which art is valued, Artist's Journeys, in which leading contemporary artists revisit a favourite artist on the past and Every Picture Tells Story where the hidden story behind a well-known work of art is explored. He devised and initiated innovative, event-based series involving a wider audience such as Off the Wall and its follow up The Art Marathon in which members of the public put on their own exhibition after touring the country looking for the best in art, and the BBC Billboard Art Project which commissioned contemporary artists to make works speciffically for display on advertising hoarding around the country.

Forging strong links with the National and Tate Galleries in London has resulted in television seasons on Picasso and Rembrandt to coincide with major exhibitions and most recently a collaboration on the three-year film project about Holbein's painting. The Restoration of the Ambassadors. As well as working on event-scale projects, Keith devised the hugely popular 2-minute shorts on BBC2 in which a person who is not immediately involved with art responds personally to a single image, Talking Pictures. Artists covered include Sickert, Whistler, Picasso and Magritte.

Keith has been commited to turning around the way artists are engaged in the process of making programmes with the two series Picture House and Expanding Pictures: in the former internationally renowned film directors like Guy Maddin and Krzysztof Zanussi are commisioned to make a 5 minute film on an artwork of their choice, and in the latter contemporary performance artists are invited to collaborate with film makers to create original films based on their work.

Keith produces the BBC Design Awards, a competition, now in its tenth year, in which viewers are invited to vote for their choice of the best of recent British graphic and product design and architecture.

For his session at the Festival Art Film he will illustrate his attempts how to win audiences for arts programmes by devising new formats and innovative ways of presenting the arts on television.