FOCAL Advertising - Place your advert here. Click here for further details

AGM and Annual Report - FOCAL International

1 June 2011

FOCAL International reports on another successful year

Harrow, Middlesex, UK 1st June


This had been an amazingly busy year for FOCAL International.

One of its major achievements has been the launch of a new FOCAL International website. We must thank Online Solutions for the design plus IT Consultant Pam Fisher working together with FOCAL’s Manager Julie Lewis for getting this major project done. This is a key vehicle for promoting all members’ and FOCAL International activities. It is also designed to streamline FOCAL International’s payment systems, data collection and other back-office functions.

The website features our new logo which has been well received – both by customers and members and there has been a fantastically enthusiastic response to the new website. FOCAL International now wants its members and the wider industry to maximise the use of it to their best advantage by contributing news, advertising, listing job vacancies, updating contact details, uploading showreels and participating in discussion forums etc.

Rights has continued to be a very live issue throughout 2010. FOCAL International was actively lobbying on behalf of our members during the Labour government’s Digital Britain legislation. The momentum has been maintained by the current coalition with Professor Hargreaves conducting a review of Intellectual Property Rights legislation (IPR) on behalf of the government. The Lobbying Committee, under chair Tony Blake, has been across these issues. Again our legal expert Hubert Best has been kept very busy drafting responses to various different rights bodies on behalf of the FOCAL membership.

A significant achievement towards the end of 2010 was membership of the Education Recording Authority (ERA).We are now able to position FOCAL to play a positive role in developments that are likely to come out of any new IPR legislation.

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 £12,600. 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.

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) we have successfully run the Skillset Archive New Entrants Training scheme. This has proved to be a great industry success - with employers offering placements and the trainees all gaining employment after the scheme had finished. They all will be great assets to any archive.

The Skillset supported Continuing Professional Development (CPD) week of training, which took place in Manchester in November, in response to the feedback to Skillset for such a course, as our regular summer school outside London and not in the summer! We have also contributed to the archive training offer from other training organisations such as Cyfle and FT2. This is in addition to the ever popular FOCAL International Footage Training Week.

During the year, FOCAL International attended a wide range of footage events, such as History Makers, Sheffield International Documentary Festival, Production Show, CEPIC and FOCAL’s presence at the International Federation of International Archives in Television (FIAT) conference, presenting a day on the commercial issues facing archives, was well-received.
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. We really appreciate the commitment from the members and other specialist volunteers who participated on the juries. We were honored at the 2010 to have Mr Martin Scorcese attend and collect an award.
Our Chair of Patrons, Lord (David) Puttnam, has been most supportive at the FOCAL International Awards. He is stepping down as presenter of the Awards, but will remain as Chair of Patrons. We welcome Greg Dyke as our new champion at the Awards ceremony and he has also become a Patron of FOCAL International.

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 some stimulating interviews with archive managers – a feature that will continue.

The membership of FOCAL International grew through 2010 from around 300 in 2009 to an average of 320 in 2010. We have also noted an increasing number of applications since the launch of the new website which is encouraging.

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.

Our social networking events – the Summer party back on HMS Belfast and the Christmas Party back at St Martin in the Fields continue to be fun occasions.

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; Claire Farrell, FOCAL International’s Administration Assistant, who joined us early in 2011; the team at Archive Zones – Mike Archer (editor) and new designer Rob Linton do sterling work; Paul Andersen who has so successfully led the New Entrants Training Scheme. 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.
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.

Sue Malden, April 2011