U.K. Film Council puts funding team in place

Jones, Trijbits, Borgars, O'Sullivan to spend coin

LONDON — It’s the news the entire British film industry has been waiting for ever since the U.K.’s Film Council opened its doors in April.

Robert Jones has been appointed head of the premiere production fund; Paul Trijbits, head of the new cinema fund; Jenny Borgars, head of the film development fund; and Jackie O’Sullivan, head of business affairs.

That’s the core team that will decide how the Film Council will spend £20 million ($30 million) a year in lottery coin to back British movie projects.

The biggest and toughest job has been handed to Jones. The premiere production fund, with an annual budget of $15 million, has been created to co-finance “popular mainstream films.” Fund is the standard-bearer for the Film Council’s commitment to boost the commercial viability of Brit pics. It’s intended to mark a significant departure from the cultural policy of the Arts Council, previously responsible for doling out lottery cash.

Jones, a one-time acquisitions exec with Palace Pictures and Polygram, has a proven nose for talent. He discovered both Paul Thomas Anderson and Bryan Singer, producing “Hard Eight” and exec producing “The Usual Suspects.” Subsequent credits, however, include “The Serpent’s Kiss” and “Simon Magus,” which sank without a trace.

The new cinema fund will have $7.5 million a year to uncover talent and encourage innovation, backing lower-budget pics and shorts.

Surprise pick

The appointment of Dutch-born Trijbits is something of a surprise, as he has been a vocal campaigner for a more commercial approach to public funding for the film industry.

Borgars comes from a more traditional public funding background, having worked for the past five years as a development exec for British Screen Finance and the European Co-Production Fund.

O’Sullivan most recently worked for Columbia TriStar Prods. in Australia as general manager and exec producer. She has practiced as a lawyer in London and Down Under.

All three funds go live Oct. 1. The four new execs will report to Film Council chief exec John Woodward.

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