Film Futures and Innovation

25th January 2018

Gillian Youngs, Professor of Creative and Digital Economy, chaired a panel on ‘Innovation and Research on Screen’ as part of a Film Futures Development Day at the MAC Birmingham focused on regional strategies for the future.

The event involved academics and policy, cultural and industry experts from across the region and beyond. The context was renewed emphasis on regional innovation and strategy in the government’s new industrial strategy framework and the role of creative industries within it. The other two panels focused on latest curriculum developments, including collaboration with industry, and the importance and range of festivals.

After a welcome from Jonnie Turpie, chair of the MAC Birmingham, the day was introduced by Xavier Mendik, Professor of Cult Film Studies at Birmingham City University (BCU), who organized the event with assistance from Prof. Youngs.

The ‘Innovation and Research on Screen’ panel covered areas including creative approaches to engaging audiences and gaining their feedback, the importance of STEAM (arts integrated with STEM – science, technology, engineering and maths), non-mainstream routes for film production including from community and grassroots creatives.

Speakers included Hana Lewis (Film Hub Wales), Rajinder Dudrah, Professor of Cultural Studies and Creative Industries who is working on BCU’s STEAMhouse project, and Lara Ratnaraja, freelance cultural consultant.

A range of interesting points and challenges were identified during the presentations and question and answer sessions during the day. These included the importance of diversity and the following kinds of questions:

  • How does a distinctive regional strategy develop, who needs to be involved, and is a specific sense of place and communities part of this process?
  • Should an emphasis be put on ‘screen’ rather than ‘film’ to fully represent all digital forms and modes of production, distribution and consumption?
  • How can connections be made to develop further new avenues for producing film which are outside mainstream routes and structures?
  • Is it useful to think outside the ‘creative industries box’ to position film/screen within the wider context of innovation in the economy?

‘This event was particularly interesting for the connections made across teaching, festivals, and research and innovation. It marks the beginning of a new form of BIG conversation linking communities of interest and expertise across the higher education, creative and cultural sectors now that the government’s industrial strategy is placing fresh emphasis on the regions,’ commented Prof. Youngs, who has been a member of the BFI Screen Industry Research and Statistics Advisory Group since 2015.

‘Such processes should help break down barriers across different interests to produce innovation in the ways different sectors work together, and become more inclusive and diverse. This should also lead to developments that not only impact on education and student employability but also on widening the variety of creative sources and outputs. This promises economic benefits as well as enrichment of culture and society with regional, national and global dimensions.’

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