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Another Successful Year Highlighted at FOCAL International's AGM

3 April 2007

The Imperial War Museum Film & Video Archive played host to the FOCAL International AGM on 3rd April 2007. Sue Malden, Chair of FOCAL International presented a very positive annual report (as below) and the results of the Financial Report for 2006, as reported by Treasurer Mike Mercer, were met with approval.

The results of the election meant that there was no change to the Excutive with the exception that Patrick Smith now represents Library Media Solutions rather than National Geographic. All members of the Executive are listed on the website

TK One provided a light lunch after the formal part of the meeting.

(L-R) David Yeo, Alf Penn and Paul Robinson, TK One

(L-R) Paul Sargent-Imperial War Museum Film & Video Archive, Sue Malden, Chair FOCAL International, Mike Mercer, Treasurer.

(L-R) Robet Dewar-Huntley Film Archive, Massimo Moretti-Skyworks and Jerry Kuehl

(L-R) Belinda Harris, Orly Yadin- Footage Farm, Veronique Foucault-AP Archive

(L-R) David Atkinson-blue (formerly TMR) Barry Coward-Beulah

(L-R) Tory Hart-National Maritime Museum, Sam Hann-Stanley Productions, Robet Dungate-BDFL

(L-R) Karena Smith-ITN Source, Kate Fitzgerald-Absolutley Wild Visuals, Stephan Bleek-Framepool

Again, 2006 has been a good year for FOCAL International.

We have initiated a permanent tribute to Jane Mercer, former chair of FOCAL International -The Jane Mercer Memorial Fund has been established to offer support to individuals intending to pursue a career in the footage research business. In order 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), FOCAL has made a considerable contribution to the fund this financial year (£8,000 approx.). Income from the invested fund will be used to offer support in a variety of forms – a bursary for attendance at the FOCAL Footage Training Week, other training opportunities, publications, a memorial lecture etc. The FOCAL International Training Committee (with the approval of the Executive) will be responsible for all aspects of the administration of the fund. FOCAL International believes that training is an essential requirement in the industry – and to this end, led by Paul Sargent (chair of the Committee), we have been in discussions with Skillset to develop a major training initiative. This is in addition to the ever popular FOCAL International Footage Training Week.

Other committees have been active throughout the year. The Membership Committee has begun a review of the range & type of membership categories; Lobbying is looking into collecting society issues; the Events & Exhibitions Committee plan FOCAL International’s attendance at a wide range of footage events, such as the Sheffield Documentary Festival, The World Congress of History Producers, Sunnyside of the Doc, the International Federation of Television Archives conference, the RealScreen Summit, Broadcast Live, MIPCOM, HMS Belfast and Christmas Party networking events. The Budget Committee will now be chaired by our new Treasurer, Mike Mercer, who is being most active with professional advice on how to manage and present budget information. We welcome Mike to the FOCAL family.
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 2006 in association with AP Archive, 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 and we look forward to working closely with him in the future.

The FOCAL International Awards are now well established in FOCAL International members’ and colleagues’ calendars. The 2006 ceremony in the Savoy Hotel, again attended by Lord Puttnam with the awards presented by Greg Dyke (former Director General of the BBC) was more successful than we could have hoped. With 200 entries from 19 countries, including first-time nominations from China, Finland and Israel, the total number of submissions showed an increase of 10 per cent over 2005. This positive trend has continued into 2007 with a record 207 submissions from 22 countries having been entered into this year’s FOCAL International Awards.
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 really enjoy viewing programmes and the Jury Weekends are also becoming more established as an enjoyable, yet demanding, experience for a growing number of volunteers attending. We really appreciate the commitment from the members and other specialist volunteers who participated on the juries.

The FOCAL International website goes from strength to strength and was revamped this year. A review of 2006 revealed that the highest number of unique visits ever in one month had been achieved in December at nearly 21,000. The average for the year was over 13,000 unique visits per month, (4,000 up on the previous year). The average number of pages viewed over the year was 3. The full potential sales of banners and buttons had not been realised but the spare capacity was useful for promoting events throughout the year.

Other aspects of the site which have grown and prospered are the use of the Footage Finder. Over 140 libraries are now signed up to the service and during 2006 they received 1200 requests for footage from researchers and producers around the world – slightly up on the 1135 in 2005. The Researcher Finder service continued to be well used with 128 job vacancies being emailed out to members in 2006. A new innovation is the Facility Finder but it will need some promotion to become established by the users.

The web site is a key vehicle for promoting the Awards and all FOCAL International activities, truly emphasising the growing international reach of FOCAL.

Continuing the international trend, this year we were very pleased to welcome Elizabeth Klink from Canada to the Executive board. She was able to participate in person at the November Executive meeting. 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.

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.

FOCAL International’s other major publication, the annual Members Directory, has again been improved, and continues to be a great marketing tool for both FOCAL International and all its members. It is widely distributed at national and international events at which we are represented and training courses presented by FOCAL speakers.

A Footage Fair at the Sheffield Film Festival was not as popular as we would have hoped, but we will continue to develop links with this and other documentary festivals.

One sadness in 2006 is the end of FOCAL France. It was not possible to keep the agreement between the two organisations going. However, we remain in good contact with French members and colleagues and organised a successful Footage Fair in Paris in November. The admin team are now actively building up our French membership.

This is a considerable range of activities for our organisation; and the membership of FOCAL International continues to grow - on 1st March 2007 we had 333 members.

Anne and Julie have been working full time since the beginning of 2006 and as ever we appreciate their hard work and commitment to FOCAL International. There are many others to thank – John Richards of TWI/IMG who was a most supportive Treasurer, but due to pressure of work has had to step down; we welcome and thank Mike Mercer who has made a very useful contribution to the last two Executive meetings; 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, April 2007