Archive for the ‘UK’ Category

UK Film Council Axed

26th July 2010 by Maura McHugh

UK Film CouncilShocking news today from the UK as reported first on the Deadline London blog, and repeated on the BBC and The Guardian web sites.

British Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt is due to inform the House of Commons at 2:30pm this afternoon that the UK Film Council will be abolished.

A recently-released statement from Tim Bevan, Chairman of the UK Film Council, appears to confirm the news:

“Abolishing the most successful film support organisation the UK has ever had is a bad decision, imposed without any consultation or evaluation. People will rightly look back on today’s announcement and say it was a big mistake, driven by short-term thinking and political expediency. British film, which is one of the UK’s more successful growth industries, deserves better.

“Our immediate priority now is to press the Government to confirm that the funding levels and core functions that are needed to underpin British film are locked-in, especially at a time when filmmakers and film companies need more support than ever as they make the challenging transition into the digital age. To that end, we will work with the DCMS over the summer to identify how they can guarantee both continuity and safe harbour for British film.”

West End Remains Popular

19th April 2010 by Maura McHugh

According to the Hollywood Reporter theatre is still proving very popular in the UK despite the recession, and the latest figures reveal that attendance at the West End in London hit 14 million last year and box office revenue made a record £500 million.

The current success owes to several factors, not least of which is a high standard of excellence. Critics have joined the public in being generally bowled over by the range and quality of what has been presented of late.

Two more reasons for the growing appreciation of what’s onstage: The lackluster state of British film and television means local talent is gravitating to the theater; and the development of well-trained directors.

Says Almeida artistic director Michael Attenborough: “TV in the U.S. is infinitely stronger. Most U.K. sitcoms are pathetically vulgar and crude.”

Meanwhile, the current crop of top stage directors is among the most innovative and distinctive to date, with Rupert Goold (“Enron”), Michael Grandage (“Hamlet,” “Red”), Howard Davies (“All My Sons”), Christopher Morahan (“The Caretaker”), Ian Rickson (“Jerusalem”) and Nicholas Hytner (“London Assurance,” “The Habit of Art”) following in the footsteps of Sam Mendes, Richard Eyre, Stephen Daldry and Trevor Nunn.

Says Burns simply, “We train great directors.” It shows.

Burns, who runs Nimax Theatres with U.S. producer Max Weitzenhoffer, adds: “Not only are more people coming, they’re paying more money to see the plays and musicals. Last year, it was a coincidence that so many plays came to fruition in one performing year. It was very much the year of the play. But that doesn’t mean the musicals were struggling — it means the plays did better.”

UK Film Council Plans

7th April 2010 by Maura McHugh

Northern Ireland Screen reports that the UK Film Council published its three year plan and launched its new £15m Film Fund.

In developing the final plan, the UK Film Council spent three months consulting on the proposals, engaging with hundreds of people from across the film sector, facilitating more than a dozen consultation sessions and attracting almost 1,000 responses. The plan specifically:
  • opens up for business a £15m-a-year Film Fund (topped up further by film recoupment) for emerging, experimental and world class filmmakers;
  • ring-fences money for development;
  • confirms production companies will for the first time automatically receive a significant share of the UK Film Council’s recoupment from all feature film investments they are involved in, following State Aid approval of the measure by the European Commission;
  • sets up a think tank chaired by Tim Bevan to identify new policy initiatives to grow independent UK film companies of scale;
  • proposes a national web-based talent showcase, to be launched in Autumn 2010, to unearth fresh talent and to broaden the diversity, reach and the opportunities available to all filmmakers who are keen to engage with one another in a national filmmaking community;
  • confirms £5m is allocated to the new Innovation Fund, which will launch in Autumn 2010 (more details to follow);
  • provides £500,000 for film exports for each year of the plan;
  • confirms that 100% of recoupment from the Prints & Advertising Fund – which widens and supports the distribution of selected specialised films and British films – will, like the Film Fund, top up that fund’s budget.

Alongside this plan, the DCMS have been leading merger discussions between the UK Film Council and the BFI. These discussions have been underway since August 2009 and continue.

Launching UK Film: Digital innovation and creative excellence, Tim Bevan CBE, Chairman of the UK Film Council, said, “We’ve set out a renewed mission, a new set of priorities, and a new way of working. With the right level of support, a successful British film industry can continue to help get the UK out of recession, drive innovation and create more highly-skilled jobs. Further tough choices probably lie ahead, but having reduced our overheads by 20% and positively responded to the needs of British filmmakers we’re now in the best place we can be to support and promote UK film in the years ahead.”

John Woodward, Chief Executive Officer of the UK Film Council, announced that the new £15m-a-year Film Fund had opened its doors for business. Managed by a new team of experienced senior production and development executives, the fund has introduced a brand new online application process in which applicants will set out their creative and strategic visions for their film.

Woodward commented: “The new Film Fund’s primary focus is creative excellence. Tanya and her team will support filmmakers who want to put British filmmaking at the centre of our national culture and on the international map. The aim is for the Film Fund to attract the best talent, encourage creative risk taking, and deliver great films to audiences.

“Joining Tanya in the search for creative excellence will be a team of three Senior Production and Development Executives with an impressive and broad range of film industry expertise. Natascha Wharton, Lizzie Francke, and Chris Collins each have big production successes under their belts – together, it’s a team that will provide a wide range of expertise and tastes as well as a supportive, energetic and ambitious home for British filmmaking talent.

“The team will all work across the full range of projects in production and development, but individually they will also have specific responsibilities.”

  • Natascha Wharton (starting 4 May 2010) will focus on development;
  • Lizzie Francke will focus on experimental feature length films, national engagement and showcasing new talent;
  • Chris Collins will focus on ideas for future film practices for both emerging and established filmmakers, from micro/low budget features and shorts, through to 3D blockbusters.

The Film Fund is open for applications from 1 April, but it will be presenting a more detailed strategy to the UK Film Council Board in the coming months. It has already been agreed that a portion of the £15m budget will be ring-fenced for development – although there will be no automatic assumption that projects developed will become films that the fund would then invest in at the production stage. The remaining budget will be safeguarded for the Film Fund’s own production investments. Further details will be announced in the coming months, in addition to details of the Film Fund’s non-London investment target and how the new online showcase will operate.

Olivier Awards 2010

23rd March 2010 by Maura McHugh

The Stage reports on the winners of the 2010 Olivier Awards in London this weekend.

Here is a selection of some of the winners – the entire list is on the web site:

* Best New Play – The Mountaintop by Katori Hall at Trafalgar Studios 1
* Best New Comedy – The Priory by Michael Wynne at the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs at the Royal Court
* Best Musical Revival – Hello, Dolly! book by Michael Stewart, music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, based on the play ‘The Matchmaker’ by Thornton Wilder at the Open Air
* Best New Musical – Spring Awakening music by Duncan Sheik, book and lyrics by Steven Sater, based on the play by Frank Wedekind at the Novello
* Best Revival – Cat On A Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams, directed by Debbie Allen at the Novello

Roy Wins RTS Award

17th March 2010 by Maura McHugh

The Guardian reports that the BBC children’s television comedy, Roy (JAM Media for CBBC), won a Royal Television Society award for Children’s Drama.

Roy is a live action television series incorporating animation, and is based on the award-winning Irish short film “Badly Drawn Roy”. The show continues to have a strong Irish connection with several Irish writers on the series, including Danny Stack, Neil Leyden, Alan Keane and Declan DeBarra.