Today at BAFTA’s London headquarters, the Film Distributors’ Association President, Lord Puttnam, delivered a film sector Keynote Address and launched the 2023 FDA Yearbook. Speaking to an audience of FDA member companies, cross-industry partners and invited guests, Lord Puttnam emphasised the impressive growth seen in the UK film market since the mid-80s and put out a call for both sector unity and improved skills investment.  

Speaking to the screen sector’s impressive upward trajectory over the last few decades, Lord Puttnam noted that film and high-end television production reached a record £6.27bn in 2022, in a period when “…the Bank of England doesn’t expect the UK economy to have exhibited any growth between the appearance of Coronavirus in 2020 and 2025.” Yet, he did warn that a lack of common purpose across the industry and a shortage of investment in skills could undo much of the good work already being done.

Whilst reflecting upon his own lengthy career, Lord Puttnam spoke fondly about one of his mentors, producer and Ealing studios head Sir Michael Balcon, and his certainty that a more collegiate mode of operation within the industry remains fundamental to its survival, “Balcon strongly believed that our industry only functioned successfully when it was unified – unified in practice, and unified in purpose.”

Lord Puttnam talked further of the film sector’s responsibility to audiences as being its “greatest unifier” and that “…our commitment to provide engaging and entertaining films that can inform and uplift people from every taste, age and background, irrespective of the platform on which they decide to engage” is the key to attracting a robust diversity of viewers.

Alongside this rallying call for unity, Lord Puttnam also stressed the vital need for investment in training the next generation of skilled industry operatives, “The reality is that investment in skills, and the ability to maintain growth need to be universally acknowledged as being synonymous, and therefore to sustain its growth, the industry must invest far more in its workforce.”

Lord Puttnam concluded his keynote address with the news that after 16 years in post as the FDA’s President, he will step down later this year. During his tenure, Lord Puttnam has been a tireless champion of the distribution sector, but also the wider film industry ecosystem and has always been willing to engage enthusiastically for the cause. Lord Puttnam is the second longest serving President in the FDA’s 108-year history.

A full transcript of Lord Puttnam’s FDA Keynote speech is available to read here.