Film London topper woos Hollywood

Wootton sees new duties as enhancing Brit biz

When Blighty’s government unveiled its early blueprint for the future of U.K. film policy on Nov. 29, culture minister Ed Vaizey announced that Film London, the capital’s film and media promotional agency, would be responsible for the future management of national inward investment strategy.

And the org’s CEO, Adrian Wootton, is the man in the driver’s seat.

“Our overwhelming message to Hollywood is that we are determined that we are going to build on the legacy and terrific work that was done by the U.K. Film Council, and we’re aiming to provide continuity of service,” he says. “As far as we’re concerned, there will not be any break and we will continue to provide continuity and the same level of expertise.”

Wootton, who has previously served as acting director at the British Film Institute (the body which will now be in charge of the distribution of public lottery funds and tax certification) and director of the London Film Festival, says Film London is well-placed to manage inward investment strategy via foreign shoots and co-productions, which it will do through a public-private partnership with key industry bodies including Pinewood Studios Group, the U.K. Screen Assn. and the Production Guild.

Last week, Film London tapped “Shakespeare in Love” producer David Parfitt as its chairman, shortly after the org was allocated its new duties.

But is the largely London-focused org ready to take on the national responsibilities of U.K. inward investment and export responsibilities of promoting Brit fare overseas?

“This is an extension of what Film London has done over the last seven years,” he says. “We’ve worked closely with huge inward investment movies and built up our skills and our expertise. Overwhelmingly, inward investment into the U.K. tends to be based in London and the studios that ring London, so this is a natural extension of our work.”

Although Wootton says the org would set up a separate unit to manage the inward investment responsibilities, details and legal niceties still need to be worked out as to who would be leading that unit, and he says an announcement will be made in the new year.

Specifics as to how the office of Colin Brown, the current British Film commissioner, would be worked into Film London remain to be seen, but Brown says “the same team would be working on inward investment for the foreseeable future.”

“I can honestly say that the major players who have been investing time and money in the U.K., or the ones who are considering doing so, do not have anything to be nervous about,” says Wootton. “The U.K. tax credit is still there and no one is turning away from the studios.”

He added: “The big emphasis for Film London, our main objective, is to not throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

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