The Lough House Group has unveiled plans to build a film studio complex adjacent to its existing animation facility on the Isle of Man.

Costing up to $5 million, the complex will feature an 11,200-square-foot soundstage with full craft facilities. The total site area is 47 acres and accommodation for film crews will be available nearby.

Construction begins in October, with completion skedded for early 2000. Lough House, however, is still in negotiations to secure part of the financing for the project from unnamed partners.

The feature version of the “Thomas the Tank Engine” kids TV series recently completely its exterior shoot on the island.

London-based film sales company Portman Entertainment has hired veteran execs Andrew Milner and Tristan Whalley to join its sales and marketing team.

Milner’s 20-year career has included stints with Canal Plus, Samuel Goldwyn and New Line. Whalley formerly worked at Majestic Films and was most recently a partner in North & South Films.

Portman’s current slate includes William Boyd’s “The Trench,” John Duigan’s “Paranoid” and “Saving Grace,” starring Brenda Blethyn and Craig Ferguson.

Richard Napper has been named managing director, U.K., at Columbia TriStar Film Distributors Intl.

Napper, who replaces Carmen Menegazzi Nov. 1, has served as sales director, U.K. at Buena Vista Intl. since 1995. He was responsible for all U.K. films released by BVI.

He previously worked at Film Network as a programming director in charge of general management at the Greenwich Cinema, Richmond Filmhouse and Peckham Premiere.


The South African government will attempt to woo the Hollywood entertainment industry at a one-day conference to be held simultaneously in Los Angeles and New York on Sept. 27.

President Thabo Mbeki will be present at the New York presentation, marking the first official government visit to promote business in the U.S. entertainment sector.

The conference is part of the U.S./ South African Business and Finance Forum.

Senior officials and ministers of Mbeki’s government, elected in the June 2 general elections, will be attending the L.A. forum, which is hosted by the Investment South Africa group and UCLA.

The forum will provide potential investors an opportunity to meet with South African government officials, businessmen and entrepreneurs seeking U.S. partners in the entertainment, automotive, chemical, pharmaceutical, hospitality infrastructure and information technology sectors.