U.K. gov’t tells UKFC to stop lobbying

Minister concerned about scaremongering

LONDON — In a new twist in the battle between Blighty’s government and the U.K. Film Council, the Department of Media, Culture and Sport has accused the body of campaigning against it in order to obtain a reprieve.

Minister for culture Ed Vaizey wrote a letter to UKFC chief John Woodward (excerpts of which were in the Independent newspaper) saying he was “concerned” the UKFC was scaremongering the industry into thinking inward investment for films would be lost because of its imminent closure.

“As a result, they (the UKFC) may be damaging the film industry that they purport to represent,” Vaizey wrote. “This is completely wrong, and I will be seeking urgent reassurances that the Film Council will promote the interests of the film industry rather than its own from now on.”

Last month the government announced its intention to close the UKFC by April 12, 2012. Since then rumors have been circulating that a major U.S. production, which was skedded to lense in Blighty, was looking elsewhere.

Concerns were further fueled when Lakeshore Entertaiment and Screen Gems opted to shoot the fourth installment of the “Underworld” vampire franchise in Vancouver instead of the U.K.

A DCMS spokesperson said the “Underworld 4” filmmakers had assured them that the move to Canada had “absolutely nothing to do with the abolition of the Film Council.”

A spokesperson at the U.K. Film Council said the future of the film industry was the only thing it’s interested in.

“We will continue to do everything we can to reassure people that any change to us will not affect the U.K.’s film offer to the world.”

UKFC is responsible for dishing out £26 million ($40.6 million) of annual funding to the film biz, among other things.

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