Producer: more must be done to boost co-productions

Brit indie producer Jeremy Thomas has urged the U.K. government to reconsider rejoining European super fund Eurimages to boost co-productions and create a healthier Brit pic biz.

Speaking Wednesday at Film London’s fourth Production Finance Market, run in conjunction with the London Film Festival, Thomas said that one of the debates missing in the wake of the government’s decision to shutter the U.K. Film Council was the need to encourage European co-productions.

He told delegates at the two-day confab that co-productions are “the essential and difficult face of making movies in 2010.”

“There’s a lot of suffering in the U.K.,” he said. “What we really need is resources for independent films.”

Blighty pulled out of Eurimages, a fund that promotes and fosters European co-productions, in 1996. But Thomas believes independent producers need to tap into the extra subsidy.

“We live on an island and there is this terrible debate politically and culturally that asks are we in Europe or not? I feel European and I feel our national identity is bound up in Europe and therefore our cinema culture should be bound to Europe,” he said.

Thomas, one of Blighty’s most prolific independent producers, has produced a stream of co-productions, including “The Last Emperor,” which nabbed a slew of Oscars including best picture, “Stealing Beauty,” “Sexy Beast” and more recently David Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method,” currently in post.

He said that government must change its attitude towards British cinema to promote pride in its cinematic culture.

“It’s viewed as an anti-establishment, low-class hobby and there is this idea that cinema doesn’t have the importance that it does in other countries, as in, say, France. They are a culture that is proud to be in the movie business.”

And while the Brit pic biz waits to see how the government will distribute film funds after it shutters the U.K. Film Council in 2012, Thomas is hoping for a system in which funding bodies are more supportive of U.K. producers.

“In the future, it should be a little more clear for everyone about how the funding money comes in, and they should be a little kinder because it’s meant to be government funding,” said Thomas. “They should make it possible for an entrepreneur to be an entrepreneur, because as it stands I feel, as a producer, that I am not appreciated in terms of entrepreneurship.”

Thomas, who was exec producer on helmer Takashi Miike’s Japanese-U.K. pic “13 Assassins,” confirmed that he’ll work on Miike’s next film, details of which are expected to be announced before AFM.

Film London’s Production Finance Market will facilitate meetings between 60 producers and 57 financiers.

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