29/11/2010

UK Industry Bankrolls Inbound Films

An increase in National Lottery funds and an emphasis on funding from within the UK movie industry itself are to bankroll the British Film Institute (BFI) as it assumes the former international marketing role of the UK Film Council (UKFC).

After formal abolition, its core duties are passing to the BFI with the substantial costs of attracting foreign investment falling on the industry with added Lottery funds promised.

The BFI will also take over responsibility for the tax credit certification of UK films; strategy and public funding support for the industry in the English regions, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; and audience development and education.

As part of the deal, Film London is to manage inward investment through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with organisations including Pinewood Studios Group, US Screen Association and the Production Guild.

It will be responsible for promoting inward film investment to the UK from the Hollywood studios and other foreign producers and organisations.

UK Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey unveiled his plan at the end of November and said that the British Film Institute would assume the lion's share of the responsibilities of the defunct Council and also announced a 60% increase in lottery funding for the UK industry.

Vaizey added that the BFI would be a "single voice" for British film and said the amount of lottery funding available to the UK film industry would increase from £27m to £43m by 2014.

Mr Vaizey said the BFI would be in charge of delivering Government policy on film and the distribution of lottery money.

News that the British Film Commissioner has 'secured' ongoing investment in British films may go some way to reassure film executives that the UK will maintain 'incoming movie' grants to foreign filmmakers worth £1bn annually.

The Culture Minister will also reform the BFI's governance and management structures and BFI will lead a review on how to build a more sustainable British film industry and how to develop audiences for British films in the UK.

This will include a review of the priorities for lottery distribution and the recoupment policy, including proposals from the producers' trade body, Pact and will also work with Film London, Bafta and BBC Worldwide to consider their role to support the distribution of British films abroad.

Among those who need to be convinced is one severe critic, Clint Eastwood, the US hard-man actor turned director, whose supernatural thriller Hereafter was partly filmed in the UK.

He slammed the UK for axing UKFC which was behind Hollywood movie moguls winning tax breaks worth 16-20% of film budgets shot in the UK, just by using some UK skills and talent.

The British film industry is currently operating at record levels despite the recession and in the first nine months of this year, investment in UK film totalled £780m, the second highest level since records began and surpassed only by last year's £788m in the same period.

Captain America: The First Avenger and the latest instalments in the Pirates of the Caribbean and X-Men franchises are all filming in the UK and Game of Thrones, a huge TV series for HBO network is being filmed at the Paint Hall studios in east Belfast.

(BMcC/GK)

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