DVD aims to boost Brit TV, pic prod’n

'Big Picture' promo to shorten gap between L.A. and London

High-profile British industryites rallied at the U.K. consul general’s residence in Hancock Park to launch “Britain — The Big Picture,” a promotional DVD guide to film and TV production in Blighty.

“Opening the British Film Office in Los Angeles a year ago was our first step in bringing the industries in the United States and the United Kingdom closer together,” Janet Anderson, the U.K. minister for film and broadcasting, said Thursday. “Now a DVD on the British film industry, made jointly by government and industry, sends another strong signal of support for producers and directors on both sides of the Atlantic.”

The DVD is part of a major drive to draw more business to the U.K. at a time of greater competition from locations such as Australia and Canada.

Australia recently spirited away “Mission: Impossible II” and the next “Star Wars” prequel pic. Both franchises had previously shot or done major post work in Great Britain. (However, “Mission II” is doing f/x work in U.K.)

Pound problem

The U.K.’s biggest handicap is the pricey pound, which eats up tax benefits or production efficiencies one might enjoy in Britain. But the Brits insist that quality work doesn’t come cheap.

“The British have always been slow at blowing their own horn,” said helmer Alan Parker, chairman of the Film Council, the nation’s new film funding umbrella org. “This DVD is a comprehensive way of showing what we can do.”

The two-hour, 40-minute DVD features more than 100 interviews with industry professionals including George Lucas, Ridley Scott and Richard Attenborough. Topics include finance, filming in the U.K., talent and post-production Disc also includes case studies of recent productions such as Bond pic “The World Is Not Enough” and a contacts directory of more than 700 companies.

The DVD will be distributed to the studio and independent sectors.

The disc launch and the two-year BFO plan are backed by public funds to the tune of about $350,000. “It is an indication of how much the government values the British industry,” said John Houlton, director of the BFO.

The British Film Office has bulked up with a 20-member executive committee and an eight-member board of governors, chaired by Intermedia’s Nigel Sinclair.

The British Film Office and the British digital effects industry will further appoint a representative to be based in Los Angeles to advise on f/x work in the U.K. “Many of the effects companies are quite small and entrepreneurial and don’t have the resources to market themselves individually,” said David Scammell, head of strategic development for post-production equipment manufacturer Quantel. “This takes care of that.”