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A very productive and busy year reported at FOCAL International's AGM

11 May 2009

The Annual Report 2008-09 was presented by Chair, Sue Malden at the AGM held 11th May at St Annes, Dean St, London W1D 6AF

"This has again been a very productive and busy year for FOCAL International.

The Jane Mercer Memorial Fund is now well established, offering support to individuals intending to pursue a career in the footage research business. The fund, built up by contributions from FOCAL now stands at £16,000 The intention is to build up a fund that can generate income that can be used to encourage development and training in the reuse of archive footage and all the complexities that this involves (something very dear to Jane’s heart). The FOCAL International Training Committee (with the approval of the Executive) will be responsible for all aspects of the administration of the fund. In addition, this will be the first year of the Jane Mercer Memorial lecture. The inaugural lecture will be given by Roly Keating, BBC Director of Archive Content
13th May hosted by The Royal Television Society in London.

FOCAL International believes that training is an essential requirement in the industry – and to this end, led by myself and Paul Sargent (chair of the Training Committee), we are now members of a cross-industry Audiovisual Training Group led by Skillset. Furthermore we have spent some considerable time preparing a proposal for the Skillset Archive New Entrants Training scheme. We eagerly await a response to our bid.

This is in addition to the ever popular FOCAL International Footage Training Week.

Other committees have been active throughout the year - The Lobbying committee and I are still in deep negotiation with the Education Recording Authority exploring the possible role of FOCAL International as a collecting society. Many of our Library members have responded positively to this proposal by assigning the very specific “educational recording rights” to FOCAL International to achieve this. We do hope to conclude this business as soon as possible.

During the year, FOCAL International attended a wide range of footage events, such as the Sheffield Documentary Festival, History Makers, Sunnyside of the Doc, the International Federation of Television Archives conference, Real Screen, IDFF (Jihlava, Czech Republic), IBC, MIPCOM.

We were particularly pleased to be invited again to be partners in organising very successful Footage sessions at RealScreen in January 2009. This included panel sessions with leading producers and experts in media copyright law. The Rights seminar in March 2009 was particularly successful raising all the current concerns and issues surrounding rights matters especially the impact of the Gower’s Report and Stephen Carter’s Digital Britain Report.

Our social networking events – the Summer party on HMS Belfast and the Christmas Party continue to be fun occasions.

The Finance committee continues to be chaired by our treasurer, Mike Mercer, who is being most active with professional advice during these difficult international financial times.

Anyone who would like to contribute to the work of the committees is welcome to contact the individual chairs whose details can be found on the website.

Our Chair of Patrons, Lord (David) Puttnam, was most supportive at the FOCAL International Awards 2008 and we are pleased that he will also be our host this year. His commitment to footage archives is well known, and his support for FOCAL International has been invaluable as he encourages his various professional colleagues to learn about FOCAL International activities and events.
The change of venue for the 2008 for the annual FOCAL International Awards is a sign of our success and expansion. The event is now well established in FOCAL International members’ and colleagues’ calendars as the world’s leading event to promote and recognize the best use of footage in the creative media. We are hugely encouraged by the growing support that this event continues to attract.
There is no doubt that these awards have greatly raised the FOCAL International profile and that of the industry it represents. The jury short listing sessions earlier in the year were a great opportunity for FOCAL International members to sit down and enjoy viewing programmes. We really appreciate the commitment from the members and other specialist volunteers who participated on the juries.
We have plans this year to completely revise the FOCAL International website – to make it as relevant as possible for all our members across the world. The web site is a key vehicle for promoting our all members and FOCAL International activities, truly emphasising the growing international reach of FOCAL.

Aspects of the site which are regularly being used are the Footage Finder (over 150 libraries are now signed up to the service and during 2008 they received an average of 125 requests for footage per month from researchers and producers around the world. This figure is up on the previous year which is encouraging and shows its sustained value.) The Researcher Finder service continued to be well used although there have been noticeably less job vacancies in the past year due to cutbacks. The Facility Finder needs promotion if it is to become established as a useful tool.

Archive Zones plays a leading role in the major debates for both the commercial aspects of our archives, as well as the vital issues of the national archive debate, preservation and access to sources of archive material. In the past year we had a most stimulating interview with Roger Laughton on the National Screen strategy – important to us all in the archive world.

One issue of particular concern in 2008, were the BBC’s proposed changes to their programme credits. FOCAL International successfully engaged in discussions with the BBC about how this affected archive credits and succeeded in persuading the BBC that these were an appropriate and relevant item for the credit lists.

This is a considerable range of activities for our organisation; and the membership of FOCAL International continues to grow - on 1st March 2009 we had 350 members. (Sponsor Members – 15; Company Members – 152; Individual Members 149; Honorary Members – 8; Affiliated Members – 14; Associate Members – 0).
As part of our international reach we really appreciate the activities of executive board member, Elizabeth Klink from Canada. She has organised footage panels at RealScreen, History Makers, HotDocs etc. She has also been very active organising a group of fellow researchers to meet regularly in Canada and also to participate as jurors in the FOCAL International Awards. This enthusiasm and energy was rightly recognised in the FOCAL International Lifetime Award in 2008.

As ever Anne Johnson and Julie Lewis have been working furiously with the support of Jacqueline Clarke in the office. There are many others to thank –Mike Mercer, our Treasurer; part time book keeper - Jim Mullen keeps on top of the day-to-day finances; the team at Archive Zones – Mike Archer (editor) and Barbara Linton (designer) continue to do sterling work. And of course the Executive Committee who give their services voluntarily; and all our very positive, active members who support FOCAL International by generously giving their time, sponsoring events, writing articles, participating in committee work, sitting on the Award juries. In fact, thanks to everyone who has contributed to yet another successful year for FOCAL International."

Sue Malden, March 2009