The latest addition to the BBC’s already impressive online presence is the Film Network – a website dedicated to showcasing the talents of young British filmmakers, launched in collaboration with the UK Film Council.
The BBC began trialling the Film Network at the start of 2005, and has already achieved an impressive 1,200 viewings per week for its most popular films. Today, the full service launches with over 150 high-quality shorts available, including the online premier of Joe Penhall’s The Undertaker, starring the marvellous Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill, Enduring Love).
You’ll need to register to access the free films, which are then streamed in Windows Media or Real Video formats. That means, alas, that you’re not going to be able to keep a local copy on your computer or play them on a PSP or video iPod. Still, there’s a wide selection of comedies, animations, dramas and experimental videos that should give you something to do during your lunch break.
Three new short films are featured every week, with the aim of promoting new talent and launching careers… after all, somebody has to fill the gaping hole in the British film industry left by the implosion of Guy Ritchie’s career.
The BBC Film Network is not part of the Interactive Media Player, or iMP, which is currently on trial. The iMP allows internet users to watch high-quality video streams of any shows from the BBC channels from the past week, and is expected to go live in 2006.