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Another Good Year for FOCAL International - AGM Report and Changes to the Executive

13 May 2010

2009 was 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 the FOCAL executive and other fund raising activities now stands at £15,000. FOCAL International’s Training Committee is now responsible for all aspects of the administration of this fund. We have been able to give support to 4 individuals in the past year.
The second Jane Mercer Memorial lecture will be celebrated with Kevin Brownlow, writer and documentary filmmaker, in May this year. We are most grateful to the RTS (Royal Television Society) for their support in organising this event.

FOCAL International believes that training is an essential requirement in the industry – and to this end, led by Paul Sargent (chair of the Training Committee) and myself we successfully bid for the Skillset Archive New Entrants Training Scheme. This is proving to be a great industry success - with employers offering placements and the trainees receiving a fantastically good grounding in the technical aspects of our industry. They all will be great assets to any archive.

We are organising a Skillset supported Continuing Professional Development(CPD) week of training as well as contributing to the archive training offered by other training organisations such as Cyfle and FT2. This is in addition to the ever popular FOCAL International Footage Training Week.

The Rights seminar in March 2009 was particularly successful - raising all the current concerns and issues surrounding rights matters. Since then the Lobbying Committee, under new chair Tony Blake, has been across issues following the Gower’s Report and Digital Britain Report.

Furthermore, the Lobbying committee and I are still in deep negotiation with the Education Recording Authority (ERA) exploring the possible role of FOCAL International as a collecting society. We do hope to conclude this business as soon as possible.

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.

During the year, FOCAL International attended a wide range of footage events, such as the Sheffield Documentary Festival, History Makers, the FIAT (International Federation of Television Archives) World Conference, Real Screen Summit, IBC and MIPCOM.

We were particularly pleased to be invited again to be partners in organising a very successful Footage sessions at the RealScreen Summit in January 2010. These included: Music & Media Licensing: Hitting the Right Notes with Cathy Carapella, Erick Kulberg, Dana Perry and Dan Markim, chaired by Jessica Bergman Bogdan. This was followed by Inside Stories: American Archive Masters when Steve Humphries interviewed Greg Jacobs of Siskel Jacobs Productions and Scott Reda of Lou Reda Productions
Our social networking events – the Summer party located in the “Inn in the Park” and the Christmas Party which returned to St Martin’s in the Field, both continue to be fun occasions.

The most recent FOCAL International Awards held 27 April 2010 has been heralded as the best so far, with Lord (Melvyn) Bragg attending and a surprise visit by Film Director Mr Martin Scorsese to receive a prize for the restoration work on The Red Shoes. It was also an opportunity to continue celebrating FOCAL’s 25 years with birthday music and fireworks.

Our Chair of Patrons, Lord (David) Puttnam, has been most supportive at the FOCAL International Awards. However having completed his pledged 6 years he is stepping down as presenter of the Awards, but will remain as Chair of Patrons . We are now actively seeking a successor to him as awards presenter.

We are hugely encouraged by the growing support that the FOCAL International Awards continue 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 also acknowledge the huge amount of work that our managers Julie Lewis and Anne Johnson put into running the competition and making the entire event the success that it is, whilst still maintaining their other administrative functions.
We are well on the way to launching our new FOCAL International website – This is a key vehicle for promoting all members and FOCAL International activities.

This year we have also launched a new logo which has been well received – both by customers and members

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 Asha Oberoi on the challenges facing a commercial audiovisual archive and more interviews with leading archive managers will follow.

The membership of FOCAL International is holding steady at just over 300 members which is encouraging during the economic downturn and when some libraries are merging or going into representation deals.

As ever Anne Johnson and Julie Lewis have been working furiously. There are many others to thank - part time book keeper - Jim Mullen keeps on top of the day-to-day finances; the team at Archive Zones – Mike Archer (editor) and new designer Rob Linton 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, May 2010

ELECTION RESULTS:

 

Voted to the Executive of FOCAL International:

- AP Archive
- BBC Motion Gallery
- Library Media Solutions
- Prime Focus World
- Belinda Harris