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CANNES — The Skills Investment Fund, a new institution that will finance training in craft and tech-nical skills for filmmakers, will be bankrolled by contributions from every major film shot in the U.K.

Producers will pay 0.5% of their budgets into the fund, up to a maximum of £39,500 ($63,200) per project (i.e. the first $12.6 million of the budget).

The money will go to the agency Skillset, which will use it to finance training in craft and technical skills, production accountancy and health and safety requirements.

This scheme, unveiled at Cannes by U.K. culture secretary Chris Smith, is the most substantial achievement to emerge from the two-year review of film policy carried out by the government in close partnership with the U.K. film industry.

Prod’n plan on ice

But Smith admitted that a more ambitious plan for an All Industry Fund to support development and distribution had run aground, largely because of opposition from the U.K. broadcasters.

On a more positive note, he also confirmed that plans are on track to centralize most of the U.K.’s vari-ous publicly funded film agencies into a single structure dubbed the Film Council.

The chair and board of the council will be appointed in the next two to three months, and the job of chief exec will be advertised next week. The body will be fully operational by April 2000.

Almost all government and lottery funding for film, around $232 million a year, will be channeled through the council. The semi-private British Screen Finance will remain separate but will receive its annual grant from the council rather than directly from the government.

Many voices

After strong lobbying from U.K. producers, Smith confirmed that the council will have several different gatekeepers for production funding, to ensure that the taste of one person does not monopolize decisions on which films get support.

One significant source of production finance that will remain outside the council is the Scottish lotto coin, which will be administered by Scottish Screen.