The Big Screen is booming: good news for SAE Film Production students

08 Feb 2019

Official figures published on 1 February by the BFI’s Research and Statistics Unit revealed continued growth in the Film and TV Industry, which is good news for SAE Film Production students.

Not only are cinema admissions the highest they’ve been since 1970, independent UK Films have seen growth in the box office market share. There has also been continued high levels of production investment across high-end TV and Film, which has consolidated the UK’s reputation as a prominent production hub.

Simon Parnham graduated from SAE Glasgow in 2014. He has been working as a freelance filmmaker, with a focus on promotional films, music videos and script-writing. He currently works part-time at SAE Glasgow, lecturing in Digital Film Production.

Simon said:

“It's certainly an encouraging development. Whilst this doesn't automatically translate into work for SAE UK students, this news will hopefully shape into further infrastructure for smaller local productions, as well as entry-level jobs for graduates.”

With the UK Film and Television industry thriving, we spoke to some other members of SAE staff and students to find out what this news means for aspiring filmmakers and producers.  


A Room with a Vue


In spite of the popularity of subscription streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, people are still leaving the house and going to the cinema. The 3.7% increase in admissions in the UK in 2018 is really encouraging, especially given the decline in admissions elsewhere around the world.

As well as Odeon, Cineworld and Vue, the UK has a wide range of independent cinemas. Often independent venues offer a more deluxe viewing experience, including comfier seating, a wider range of food and drink, and a broader range of titles.

Oxford has the Ultimate Picture Palace, as well as a Curzon cinema in the newly built Westgate centre. Glasgow has the Glasgow Film Theatre, the Centre for Contemporary Arts and The Grosvenor Cinema. Liverpool boasts FACT, Cafe Tabac as well as the 1927 Woolton Picture House. There are lots of independent cinemas located across London, from Electric to the Arthouse.

There are no shortage of spaces where SAE students can check out work from other directors and producers and get inspired.  


Independent’s Day


The market share of independent UK films at the box office in 2018 was 11.7%, an increase from 9.5% in 2017. Independent UK films such as Darkest Hour and Johnny English Strikes Again combine with UK-made, studio-backed films such as Mamma Mia! Here We go Again, Bohemian Rhapsody, Mary Poppins Returns and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald to boost the full UK market share to 44.8% - the highest since records began.

SAE London Digital Film Production lecturer, Jesse Quinones is contributing to this market with his upcoming second feature film. He said:

“The BFI report, which indicates a new high in cinema going figures, definitely gives me hope as an independent filmmaker. Making movies is not easy no matter what climate you're working in, but it is exciting to hear of the growing appetite to invest in and promote home grown talent. For a long time it has felt as if we would wait for the next big Hollywood film and flock to the cinemas for that. But there are some really talented filmmakers right here, and we should back them. And backing them means paying for a ticket and going to see their movies on the big screen. So this all points to a positive future. And I hope to contribute to that in a small way, with my second feature film, CAGEFIGHTER, which is aiming to shooter later in 2019. We have a very exciting cast of Michael Jai White, Gina Gershon, Josh Herdman, Jason Maza, and Michelle Ryan. This is a British MMA film, it's set in London, it's about London, and hopefully we can prove that homegrown films can sell, they can attract audiences, and they can be exciting.”

SAE Oxford Digital Film Production student, Callum John, is currently crowdfunding £7,000 to cover the production costs of his dissertation project Designation: Limbo, an espionage thriller short film that is based on a 1950s interrogation. You can find out more about his project here.

Show me the money!


The spend on high end-television and film production in the UK in 2018 reached £3.1 billion, the second highest year on record, demonstrating the continued world-class excellence of UK talent, crews, VFX and production services.

The surge in new high-end television productions made in 2018 which achieved a record year on spend included The Crown, The ABC Murders, Black Mirror, Call The Midwife, His Dark Materials, Luther, The Little Drummer Girl, Les Misérables, The War of the Worlds and The Witcher.

With more money being spent on UK productions there is more global talent attracted to the UK, which helps to boost the economy, as well as creating a multicultural working environment that SAE students will become a part of when they graduate.

Dr Jon Xue Zhang, who is Student Experience Officer at SAE Oxford has featured in a number of films and television series, working as a stunt performer in Hobbs and Shaw (2019) and Doctor Strange (2016), and as an actor in Silent Witness (2019) and EastEnders (2018).

He said:  

"Being a performer myself and having friends in the industry here in the UK, I'm overjoyed to see such a growth, especially as it means all our hard work is being seen and recognised around the world. As such, I'm excited to see how things progress and be a part of the UK's continued success.”

It’s certainly an exciting time to embark on a future in film.

To find out more about the Film Production courses on offer at SAE, click here.