Gov’t directs panel to buoy Brit pic biz

LONDON — The U.K.’s new Labor government has invited a dozen of the most savvy figures in the British film industry to devise a set of pragmatic policies to boost British cinema.

The high-caliber membership of the working party is the clearest signal yet that the government is serious in its intent to give hard-nosed and commercially effective support to the U.K. film business, after 18 years of neglect under the previous Conservative regime.

Chaired jointly by film minister Tom Clarke and Polygram’s Stewart Till, the group includes director Ridley Scott, Ciby Sales chief exec Wendy Palmer, “Four Weddings and a Funeral” producer Duncan Kenworthy and Daniel Battsek, managing director of Buena Vista Intl.’s U.K. arm.

The other members are Chris Auty, managing director of Recorded Picture Co.; Scottish producers Lynda Myles and Peter Broughan; Colin Leventhal, managing director of Film Four Intl.; Richard Segal, managing director of Odeon Cinemas; Wilf Stevenson, director of the British Film Institute; Charles Denton, head of the Arts Council’s advisory panel on film; and Dinah Caine, director of the training program Skillset.

The government is looking for policy proposals to help double the market share of British movies in the U.K., and to broaden the overall cinema audience, particularly by attracting older filmgoers.

The working party will also explore ways to boost the export of British movies, to improve training, to attract more foreign filmmaking and investment to the U.K., and to improve the financial framework for production.

It is due to make its recommendations within the next nine months. “I think we’ve got a good chance of coming up with something that’s common sense, workable and won’t cost the taxpayer too much money,” one committee member told Daily Variety.

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