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BBC Films – Winners’ Press Conference interview, Outstanding Contribution to British Cinema, EE British Academy Film Awards in 2015

8 February 2015

Winners’ Press Conference interview with Christine Langan (BBC Films) for Outstanding Contribution to British Cinema 

Winners' press conference interview with Christine Langan (BBC Films) in the Outstanding Contribution to British Cinema category


Q. So Christine, congratulations!

A. Thank you very much.

Q. How does it feel? What does this mean for BBC Films and for you specifically?

A. Well, it's thrilling for BBC Films. I think it really puts a flag in the sand or, you know, better image, if I could find one, it really puts us on the map, both out there, hopefully, in the world with the public who are not always aware of what the BBC is doing in film, and also within the BBC, just to remind them that everyone needs them in film. And, you know, that it's a very, very worthwhile and essential occupation. It's something that contributes massively to all aspects of public life. 

So, you know, BBC Films is the BBC's sole participation in independent film making in this country, and it's a very small team and it's a small budget, but it really goes a very long way. We squeeze a lot of juice out of it.  So I think it is important that the BBC remembers that we're there and part of, you know, the mother ship. (Laughs)

Q. So this will be useful for meetings tomorrow. Just plonk it on the table and ...?

A. I think for the long term health of my department, this is extremely valuable.

NEW SPEAKER: I am from BBC Radio.  Some amazing films over the years.  We saw a list: Billy Elliott, Mrs Brown. Films that have had great success as well in the award ceremonies. Does that make it worthwhile as well?

A. Yes, absolutely. I mean, an awful lot of films don't go anywhere near award ceremonies and that doesn't invalidate them in any way, and it is lovely to discover a film with relative freshness without having all your opinions formed by reviewers and award ceremonies. But obviously it is about raising the profile of individual titles above the thicket of films that are out there, to sustain their lives. 

So yes, if you can if you can make films of prominence, then it certainly validates what we are doing. But, you know, it is very much about an eclectic mix. It is about the newbies, the beginner slopes, the new talent coming through, as well as something like Saving Mr Banks which ended up being a Disney film. We developed it, but it ended up being funded almost entirely by Disney for $30 million. Sort of everything in between.

NEW SPEAKER: (Inaudible) BBC, but actually, isn't the bigger picture facing politicians and the Government, because the Government has been quite keen to fund (inaudible) and the Chancellor (inaudible) and so on, it actually is not really (inaudible) a new element and that side of things quite important in terms of the Government getting how important you are in the ecology of film.

A. Yes, I think that is absolutely true. I think, you know, the Government and GCMS has certainly been aware of the value of film, generally speaking, to the creative economy and the economy at large. And probably, you know, they are cognisant of the value of it to our cultural life as well. And it doesn't do any harm to remind them that the BBC has a very valuable and influential role in all of that, especially in the early stages where it's hardest. And although the money and the time and the effort you are putting into development might seem, you know, quite considerably less than production money, it's still risk money, if you like. And there are very few people who are prepared to go there.

NEW SPEAKER: Congratulations again on this award. Obviously it is a celebration of some fantastic past achievements. I wonder if you personally have one you are most proud of and what, looking to the future, you are most excited about.

A. I there are titles I could mention. I have been talking about Philomena quite a lot. It seems a little unfair to home in on one, because they are all so different, and I am very exited about Bill and X plus Y, both of which come out this March.  But equally, Far from the Madding Crowd is something that I have you know, it is a very beautiful adaptation. It is out in May and, you know, it is a book I read as a kid and just fell in love with. So it is a dream to have such an amazing adaptation coming through. 

And the future, you know, I am not really the person to talk about technologies, but in terms of the quality of the writing and the directing, I just hope that we can keep it coming and keep honing it and bring a very diverse and eclectic, interesting and compelling slate that lures money and attention in from the rest of the world, which is very much my aim, to, you know to keep us very high in the mix of the film world.

Q. Fantastic. Thanks once again. 

Congratulations, Christine Langan of BBC Films.

A. Thank you very much.