No. 9 finds White knight

After bankrolling Stephen Woolley‘s directorial debut “Stoned,” Birmingham-based property mogul Paul White has stepped up his movie commitments by taking a stake in Number 9 Films, the production outfit Woolley runs with his wife, Elizabeth Karlsen.

White’s Audley Films has agreed to provide overhead funding in return for shares in Number 9, whose recent credits, aside from “Stoned,” include Neil Jordan‘s “Breakfast on Pluto” and Phyllis Nagy‘s “Mrs. Harris.”

“Paul’s continuing involvement in the film industry will provide a lifeblood and energy to keep European cinema alive and kicking,” says Woolley.

White is matching the overhead contribution that Number 9 receives from its three-year development deal with the U.K. Film Council. That slate deal also is backed by the Irish Film Board, FilmFour and sales company Intandem.

However, Hamish McAlpine‘s Tartan Films, which was originally lined up as the U.K. distribution partner, dropped out earlier this year after failing to agree on terms.

White, who owns a successful commercial property business in Birmingham, England’s second largest city, was introduced to film investment by Intandem topper Gary Smith, a fellow Brummie.

He first put money into Bille August‘s “Return to Sender,” which Woolley co-produced and Intandem sold, before they all teamed up again for the Brian Jones biopic “Stoned.” White also is co-financing the distribution of “Stoned” in the U.K., via Vertigo Films, and in North America, where Intandem is negotiating a release via Screen Media Ventures.

Number 9’s slate includes adaptations of Toby Young‘s “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People,” Blake Morrison‘s “And When Did You Last See Your Father,” Peter Ackroyd‘s “Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem” and Patricia Highsmith’s “Carol.” Continuing Woolley’s obsession with doomed ’60s rock icons, it’s also developing a movie about the last days of Jimi Hendrix.

Vinterberg lives now

Danish director Thomas Vinterberg has hooked up with prolific British screenwriter Tony Grisoni to develop an adaptation of Meg Rosoff‘s debut novel “How I Live Now.”

The project is a co-production between John Battsek and Andrew Ruhemann of Passion Pictures and Charles Steel and Ali Flind of Prospect Entertainment, both London-based companies.

It’s being developed jointly with FilmFour and the Recorded Picture Co. under its slate deal with the U.K. Film Council.

“How I Live Now” is narrated by Daisy, a troubled 15-year-old New Yorker sent to stay with her eccentric British cousins in their rundown country mansion, against the backdrop of a dimly perceived geopolitical crisis.

What begins as a bucolic adventure turns far darker as an unnamed foreign power invades England, and Daisy is forced to embark upon a harrowing odyssey across the war-torn country.

Irish hit by Brit tax blow

If British producers are anxious about the U.K.’s new tax credit proposals, spare a thought for the Irish.

Just about every significant movie shot in Ireland in recent years — including American imports such as “King Arthur” and “Laws of Attraction” — has used a U.K. co-production deal to access British tax breaks worth up to 15% of budgets, matching the benefit from Ireland’s own Section 481 relief.

To qualify, Irish producers need only spend 20% in Blighty — not hard, because a shortage of Irish facilities means they come to London for lab and post-production work anyway.

But the new tax credit will be limited to films passing a British cultural test, and apply only to U.K. expenditure. That knocks a hole in Irish budgets which will be very hard to fill.

“Irish film has enjoyed a special relationship with the U.K. film industry, treated as cousins rather than foreigners, so the impact of the changes will be disproportionate,” says producer Andrew Lowe. His partner Ed Guiney adds, “It’s a real blow, and I don’t quite know what we’re going to do about it.”

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