BBC launches online film network in the UK

MUMBAI: BBC Film Network ( - the interactive showcase for new British short film-making talent has been launched as a full service with new features and a new generation of films including the online premiere of Joe Penhall's The Undertaker starring Rhys Ifans.

The UK pubcaster says that BBC Film Network had launched as a trial in January 2005 to promote new British filmmakers and has been growing ever since - with 50,000 unique users in September and the most popular films receiving 1,200 viewings a week. An ever-expanding library of short films is available online, allowing new film-makers and film fans to view g new work, create online profiles and share information with the creative community.

The site already hosts more than 150 high-quality short films and has more than 3,000 registered members. Three new films are featured every week - from traditional drama and documentaries to cutting edge animation and music promos - adding to a growing catalogue showcasing the work of the UK's best new film talent. The site launched in collaboration with the UK Film Council, and includes a number of shorts funded through their digital short scheme.

Since then, BBC says that its film network has developed links with a large range of partners from within the industry and is currently working with: short distributors Dazzle, Short Circuit and onedotzero; events like Brief Encounters, London and Edinburgh Film Festivals; other organisations like the British Council and Shooting People; as well as record labels such as Warp.

The site acts as a shop window for the industry with each partner curating selections of films showcased on site. Film Network also accepts direct submissions from film-makers and 46 of the showcased films have been submitted directly through the website. The new improved site, which launched at the London Film Festival, will include new features like audience charts of the highest rated films, an improved film catalogue and more sophisticated profile pages, plus, a panel of industry of experts giving online feedback.

There will also be a new magazine section, launching at the end of November. It will include interviews, profiles and masterclasses with established film-makers, and programmes of themed shorts and other features around the art of film-making that inspire discussion and debate amongst the site's regular users. Later this year the site will also trial rights-managed, hi-res downloads which will allow audiences to watch the very best shorts full screen in near-DVD quality. interactive executive Gerard O'Malley said, "With BBC Film Network you get for the first time a real overview of what is happening at this level in the film industry and a sense of a real body of work. I hope that future successful film-makers will look back on the Film Network as a real turning point in their careers. I hope too that the wider audience will continue to develop a taste for the short film."

A senior producer Matt Walton said: "It's surprising how quickly the site has become established within the world of short films. Everyone you speak to is very positive about the BBC providing this kind of service. We hope now to push the site further and help to develop a wider audience for up and coming British film-makers. As part of Europe's biggest content website we should be in a position to do that. If more people get to see some of the great, interesting work that's being produced but rarely seen, then we're doing our job."


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