PACT questions new slate funding

Scheme unlikely to make pix more commercially viable

LONDON — British film producers have called on the U.K. Film Council urgently to reconsider its plans for the next generation of development slate funding.

An open meeting of producers, sales agents and broadcasters, hosted July 9 by producers’ org PACT, agreed that the proposed scheme would not achieve its goal of making British films more commercially viable.

Some people expressed fears that the scheme could actually destabilize the production market.

The Film Council’s Development Fund is proposing to award three-year deals to up to eight companies, worth a maximum of £500,000 a year apiece. But producers must bring matching finance, and meet strict and complex rules on how the coin is spent and repaid.

They must also be able to demonstrate the active involvement of distribution companies in their development process, and meet tough targets for converting their scripts into finished films.

The Film Council has previously awarded 22 development slate deals over the past three years, handing out smaller sums with less rigorous conditions. But it has now decided that these schemes have not resulted in sufficient films getting made.

Producers argue that this judgement is premature. They believe that the Film Council’s determination to lock distributors into the development slates at an early stage is misconceived. And they are concerned that the financial terms of the new scheme are potentially punitive.

“The overwhelming majority of people at the meeting expressed serious concerns about the scheme as currently constituted,” said Margaret Matheson, managing director of Bard Entertainment and chair of PACT’s film policy group. “We hope the UK Film Council will agree to meet a PACT-led all-industry delegation in the immediate future to come up with a revised plan that is workable.”

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