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Can you give us a little background on Film Education?
We've been going for about 15 years, it started with just three of us and now we are 17. But that can fluctuate during the busy periods. When it started I was the only teacher so it really depended on what I could go out and do. We grew up out of British Film Year in 1985 and we were the only bit of British Film Year to survive, partially through the assistance of David Puttman but also ABC Cinema's - as they were then - involvement early on.
Over the years, partly thanks top the All Industry Marketing Committee (AIM) who've given us more money, partly through the BFI coming on board and also due to the funding of the film distributors and exhibitors funding us as well. There's quite a large marketing base and we've had to increase in size just for what we have taken off. When it began I was producing study packs on individual films but we've moved on a long way, we do generic packs now. For example, we've got one on film language, one on film literacy so we try to cover the whole film history aspect too.
What is Film Education's remit?
As stated in our charitable status document, is to encourage the use of film in the curriculum and to encourage the use of cinemas by schools.
How do these schools receive you now?
Basically, we've got 16,500 secondary schools and about 10,000 primary school teachers on our mailing list, they've written to us requesting the material. They will get the first shot at any of the events. After moving into the generic packs we moved into developing CD-ROM, like the one we hope to do on Pearl Harbour. Strangely that will look at studying documentary and ask students to construct a variety of documentaries, any thing from a making-of through to historical docs.
And you've got the archive footage from the Imperial War Museum?
Yeah, we've got that already and we are just waiting for the film footage now. We did one on Chicken Run where we worked with Aardman, Pathé and Dreamworks which meant that the kids could do their own animation, edit their films, that worked quite well.
We did 49 programs for the BBC Learning Zone and a series for Channel 4 Schools - we've just been commissioned to do another for them on animation. As all of these came along we had to expand so we re-launched our web site back in August, the newest development being that students can study the moving image from video clips - it's a cost friendly exercise because we dont have to produce videos.
Do you have a print arm as well?
Yes, we just produced some print material on Captain Corelli's Mandolin and we've also done stuff on writing screenplays and storyboarding to name a couple, there's quite a range to it.
Does Film Education have patrons?
Not yet but we are in the process of appointing patrons.
Likely to be Puttnam?
He's a very good supporter but I can't say who it will be yet. He was at the launch of the National Schools Film Week, during a week in October between 150,000 and a 160,000 kids will go to the cinema across the country. We also run March into Movies, a sort of link between October one year and the next, something like 5,500 kids went to the cinema over three days in March. It should have included Corelli but the print wasn't ready so we are running that in May - 3,500 kids will go to that. Then we do something as an end of term treat, some fun movies that they can go and see.
Was that affected this year by the Foot and Mouth restrictions?
Well it's a lot smaller than Schools Film Week and we usually aim for 10 to 15 thousand, so we were affected in a way, a lot of schools up North and particularly in the Newcastle area that had to pull out at the last minute. We were also affected by the new teachers action, they are refusing to cover long term absences, it means getting teachers out on school visits is becoming quite problematic. We'll be monitoring what goes on because our summer event takes place around the end of June, dependent on whether it's been resolved or got worse by then.
That should be a lot bigger than March because we had no films for the primary schools, there was nothing due out that was appropriate.