As I type this there’s a single reaction greeting news that the BFI is to charge journalists £36 (£30 +VAT) to cover this year’s London Film Festival. And that reaction is politely abbreviated to “WTF?”
An email arriving in inboxes this afternoon states:
“We are writing to inform you of some changes for press delegates at this year’s BFI London Film Festival.
[snip some dull parts]
“This year, and in line with many other international film festivals, a small fee for press accreditation is being introduced. Individual accreditation will cost £30+VAT, payable at the point of registration through the online form.”
The LFF brings huge international attention to the BFI and to London, and it does so because of the vast amount of coverage the event generates.
Weeks before the festival opens, we film reviewers will have sat through countless films in order to pick the best, report and review and them and guide you to the BFI’s booking site so you can enjoy them too.
But now the BFI wants to charge journalists for the ‘privilege’ of advertising its activities.
That has gone down like a cup of cold sick.
As one of our online friends has said, many film journos write for free, “out of love for films” and won’t be able to afford the entrance fee.
But even if that wasn’t true, the biggest beneficiaries of the presence of journalists are the BFI and festival.
Yes, sites get content and the readers that generates, some even pick up some advertising, but it’s the BFI which gets acres of coverage to help increase the festival’s attractiveness to its sponsors.
And for trying to charge us for helping it squeeze the maximum amount from corporate givers, the BFI’s bosses deserve to find the press seats a lot emptier this year.