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Shooting the message #20: Video Arts
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Shooting the message #20: Video Arts

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None of the companies featured in this series on communications filmmaking could claim to be household names in their own right. Until now.

BFI

Throughout summer 2015, the British Film Institute are curating all Video Arts content for posterity. Ahead of this, the BFI have written this synopsis of Video Arts and our story over the years…

Though they can all be proud of the impact of their work, none of the companies featured in this series on communications filmmaking could claim to be household names in their own right. Until now: our 20th subject is not only a legend in the business – it also has a high public recognition factor.

I speak of Video Arts who, 40 years ago under founders Anthony Jay and John Cleese, stormed the citadel with a barrel-load of groundbreaking training films, many starring Cleese. It’s hard to overestimate what a sea-change these were, turning ‘industrial’ filmmaking on its head in several ways. They broke the mould (still dominant today) of films commissioned by corporations (at the time mainly light and heavy industries) for free distribution. Video Arts instead identified generic training needs, producing films about them without sponsorship – returning the investment when selling or renting them to interested training departments, usually within white-collar businesses. The films themselves marked an equally sharp departure from the stately industrial documentary: witty scripts, crafted (with consultants’ advice) to key learning points about skills and behaviours, using television talent and with high production values.

You can read the rest of this article on the BFI website.

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