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My Inspiring Two Days at Focus 2023

FOCUS returned to The Business Design Centre London on 5/6 December with a packed programme of meetings, networking and conference sessions, spanning film, TV, advertising and games - and I was in the middle of it all!

I applied for a free Delegate Badge to represent KIFF and it was my first time attending. From the start I was amazed by the bustling atmosphere and range of diversity I was met with. I’ve started my day browsing the stands on the show floor, where you can find exhibitors in different fields like Film Production, Location Management, Film Commissions, Travel and Accommodation and many more. 

It was insightful to talk to representatives from different countries, learning more about filmmaking in their culture. 

My favourite part of the whole event was the great number of workshops. At the Broadcasters Talk for Disability and Inclusion for example, I learned about TV Access’ vision for full inclusion in 2030 and how we can play our part in it with KIFF. During ‘Nurturing Shiny New Talent.’

I got to follow an exciting discussion with amazing new directors, which was very interesting to see. Every year during KIFF we host an Emerging Filmmakers Forum, getting insights of starting in the film industry from new directors, producers, composers and more. I always find it very inspiring to hear the successes and struggles from other upcoming filmmakers, as there are so many different journeys you can take to enter our industry. This was something ‘Shiny’ highlighted very well and it left me wanting to know more.

On Wednesday  morning I started my day attending the conference with the longest name as moderator and British Film Commission CEO Adrian Wootton stated in his introduction: SUCCESSION PLANNING: The Rise of Set-Jetting and Getting on Board with Screen Tourism.

Adrian Wootton is a familiar face for anyone following KIFF as he was part of our exciting industry  panel ‘The urgent need to fight for the survival of our small independent producers who are the bedrock of the industry in the inaugural KIFF 2022 as well as recently joining the KIFF awards Jury for 2024. 

Adrian was joined by Patricia Yates (CEO of VisitBritain), Meghan Beaton (Film Commission of the Norwegian Film Commision), Piluca Querol (Director of the Andalucía Film Commission), Anna Rathban (Filming Officer of National Trust Scotland) and Ian Smith (Producer, Applecross Productions.) 

The panel started with some wonderful clips of films shot in the UK, as well as some of the visiting Film Commissions, showing how much diversity and depth those different countries had to offer. Before the discussion Adrian and Patricia Yates from Visit Britain had signed a MoU to boost screen tourism across the UK. Travel plans inspired by film and TV are on the rise, as Norway has seen after ‘Frozen’ or Scotland after ‘Outlanders’. 

Inbound tourists spent an estimated £892.6 million in film-related screen tourism in the UK in 2019 alone according to the British Film Institute (BFI), making screen tourism an increasingly valuable part of the UK’s global tourism offer.

The panel also discussed how to ensure that visits are sustainable, for example by encouraging people to stay longer rather than just paying a quick visit. 

VisitBritain CEO Patricia Yates said:

“VisitBritain’s research shows that films and TV are powerful motivators for travel. With almost a third of potential visitors to Britain keen to visit locations used in filming and seen-on-screen, film tourism is a valuable and growing part of our global tourism offer.”

This is something that is very exciting for me as a filmmaker and for us at KIFF, as we know what a wonderful location Kingston is not only to celebrate film but also to create it. Incidentally, one of my first trips after moving to Kingston from Germany, was to see Surbiton Station where a scene of Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince was filmed. 

A passion and excitement about films and filming locations brings people together and offers the valuable opportunity to spotlight regional destinations to drive tourism. 

Focus also brought together amazing people from all fields of the industry, allowing them to network and learn more about each other's department. I will definitely return next year, and I think you should too!

Jelena, KIFF Deputy Director

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