Powell tops U.K. Nat’l Film School

Producer's credits include 'Crying Game,' 'Little Voice'

LONDON — Veteran producer Nik Powell has been appointed director of the U.K.’s National Film and Television School.

It’s a momentous change of career for Powell after more than two decades as one of the U.K.’s most prolific producers, with credits including “The Crying Game,” “Mona Lisa” and “Little Voice.”

As only the fourth director of the NFTS since it was founded in 1971, he will be responsible for running the school.

“This is an exceptional opportunity for me to play a major direct role in the laying of the foundations of the film and television industries of tomorrow,” Powell said.

When he takes up the post Sept. 29, he will cease to have any active role in his company Scala. All Scala projects already have other producers involved who will take over.

These include Charles Dance’s directorial debut “Ladies in Lavender,” starring Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, which starts shooting Sept. 8.

Other Scala projects include Oz co-production “The Queen and I” and a biopic of doomed Rolling Stone Brian Jones to be directed by Powell’s former producing partner Stephen Woolley.

Powell started his showbiz career as Richard Branson’s partner in Virgin Records, then switched to movies by launching producer/distrib Palace Pictures with Woolley.

After the bankruptcy of Palace in 1991, he and Woolley formed Scala. Woolley subsequently left to set up Company of Wolves with Neil Jordan.

“I have changed direction in my life every 10 or 12 years,” Powell said. “I’m 53 now, and I want to do a public-service job. This is actually my first and could be my last job.”

At the NFTS, Powell wants to ensure that digital technologies are central to training. He also said that the school, based in the small town of Beaconsfield, on the western fringes of London, will no longer be looking for a new site elsewhere.

“I am committed to staying at Beaconsfield and refurbishing the site,” he promised.

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