Calderwood set for Pathe post

LONDON – Lottery franchise winner Pathe Pictures will finally start operating at full strength next week when Andrea Calderwood takes up her post as head of production.

Pathe was awarded its franchise by the Arts Council of England last May, but only signed its contract with ACE in October, and has yet to show any signs of putting its first film into production.

The franchise gives Pathe access to £33 million ($54 million) of lottery coin to co-finance around 35 British movies over a six-year period.

Calderwood, previously drama chief at BBC Scotland – where she exec produced “Mrs. Brown” and “Small Faces” – faces the task of closing the gap of mistrust and poor communication that exists between the British film community and French-owned Pathe, which initially entered the U.K. as a theatrical distrib before diversifying into production.

“I want to create a sense that Pathe is a place where people actively choose to bring their projects,” said Calderwood. “We need to establish ourselves as a user-friendly place to come for financing.”

That certainly isn’t the case at the moment. One leading British producer typically told Daily Variety, “I don’t understand Pathe, and at the moment I wouldn’t be seen dead taking a film there.”

Calderwood, who will be working closely with managing director Alexis Lloyd, is relishing the challenge of changing that perception. She acknowledges that Pathe has seemed to be “treading water” while it put together its production and development team, but says her job will be to bring “some kind of strategic editorial plan, starting with a clean slate.”

She has a rolling development fund of $2 million, and says, “We will be actively seeking out the talent we want to work with.” She also will be establishing a more active creative partnership with the various producers with whom Pathe has development deals – including Lynda Myles, Norma Heyman, Sarah Radclyffe, Barnaby Thompson and Simon Channing-Williams.

She cites BBC-backed films such as “TwentyFourSeven” and her own “Small Faces,” both distributed by Pathe in the U.K., as examples of the kind of creatively innovative Brit pics she would like to finance at the low-budget end, rising to more obviously mainstream fare with more expensive projects.

“Pathe has a very positive attitude to British production, just as a distributor it has a very positive attitude to British films,” she said. “The combination of European commercial funding and British cultural funding means that we can make some bold choices about what we hope British and European audiences will want to see.”

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