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AGM & Annual Report 2012 - FOCAL International

14 May 2012

FOCAL International reports a mixed year at AGM - 14 May 2012
Harrow, Middlesex, UK

After delivering the annual report (see below), Chair Sue Malden and Hubert Best updated members on the action that FOCAL International had taken to lobby parliament and protect the rights of the footage and content libraries during the current review of intellectual property rights following on from the Hargreaves Review. (For details of FOCAL's responses click here).

At the end of the meeting Paul Sargent, who is soon to retire from the IWM, was thanked for his many year's service on the Executive of FOCAL International and also for his very active role as Secretary of the organisation and as Chair of the Training Committee.

L_R Stephen May, Abbot Datastore who kinldy sponsored the reception with Martin Rogers, Prime Focus

 Kevin Mannion and Annabel Maidment of Skyworks Ltd with Gerry Weinbren (centre)

Chair, Sue Malden handing a token of thanks from the  FOCAL International Executive

Some other members of the FOCAL International Executive:

 L_R: Veronique Foucault, AP Archive,
Simon Wood, ITN Source,
Gordon Craig, Fremantlemedia Archive Sales,
Massimo Moretti, Studio Canal



This had been a mixed year for FOCAL International.

We have gone on from strength to strength as the website has bedded down. – This is a key vehicle for promoting all members’ and FOCAL International activities, as is our magazine Archive Zones. Technology and economics are having an impact here – enabling us to do far more on the website. Nevertheless our magazine remains valued by readers across the world. 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.

Now that the website is established, we urge our members to maximise the use of it to their best advantage correcting your details; uploading images; joining in with the forums etc.

Rights has continued to be a very live issue throughout 2011. FOCAL International was actively lobbying on behalf of our members during the Labour government’s Digital Britain legislation. The momentum has been maintained under the current coalition with Professor Hargreaves review of IPR on behalf of the government; together with Richard Hooper’s investigation into the need for a Digital Rights Exchange; and now there is the All Party Group on IPR. The Lobbying Committee and in particular myself and our legal expert Hubert Best have been kept very busy gathering data, submitting responses to Hargreaves, Hooper and the All Party group on behalf of the FOCAL membership. We are now at the stage when we need to involve more members both of the Lobbying Committee and in general in the communications process.

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 £12,000. 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 three individuals in the past year.

No one in FOCAL International believes that training is an essential requirement in the industry more than Paul Sargent (Chair of the Training Committee). Paul is retiring from the Imperial War Museum and therefore standing down as chair of the Training Committee. I would like to formally thank Paul for his enduringly reliable contribution to FOCAL International both as Chair of the Training Committee and as Company Secretary of the FOCAL International Executive. We hope Paul will remain in contact with FOCAL International in his retirement. Another Executive member who retired in 2011 was David Atkinson of Prime Focus – we are really indebted to David for all his support to FOCAL International through his Executive membership, hosting our old website and sponsorship of FOCAL International events - which are pleased to say is continuing under the participation of Martin Rogers who succeeded David.

Our work with Skillset has continued with a project - gathering information on experts in the archive footage area – Skillsbank. We hope this will be launched in the summer.

During the year, FOCAL International attended a wide range of footage events, such as Sheffield DOC/FEST, FIAT/IFTA Conference, MIPCOM, History Makers and Realscreen Summit.
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.
The membership of FOCAL International has stayed the same, with some members leaving, but it has been encouraging that the membership level is the same as it was this time last year during these economic times.

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. Similarly, USA based David Seevers is supporting our international spread thru his membership of the executive.

As ever Anne Johnson and Julie Lewis have been working at a pace. 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 designer Rob Linton do sterling work; Paul Andersen who has so successfully led the New Entrants Training Scheme is now leading the Skillsbank project for us. 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 2012