UKFC bows new film fund

War chest will replace three existing cash streams

The U.K. Film Council has launched a £15 million ($23 million) annual fund to help kickstart local pics, as part of a new three-year plan.

The fund, topped up by recoupment that the UKFC makes from movie investments, is for “emerging, experimental and world-class filmmakers,” the council said.

Merging the old development, new cinema and premiere funds, the new war chest will be administed by Tanya Seghatchian aided by three senior execs.

Natascha Wharton, formerly head of development at Working Title Films, will focus on development; Lizzie Francke, a development producer for the UKFC’s Development Fund, will focus on experimental films and showcasing new talent; and Chris Collins, also a development producer at the Development Fund, will focus on new ideas for production.

The plan, titled “Launching UK Film: Digital Innovation and Creative Excellence,” also commits the state body to spend $764,000 a year boosting the export of U.K. pics.

A further $7.6 million is allocated to the new Innovation Fund, which will look at new methods of production and distribution using digital technology. This will bow in the fall.

The plan also confirms that production companies will, for the first time, automatically receive a significant share of the UKFC’s recoupment from its investments.

It also sets up a think-tank chaired by Tim Bevan, UKFC chairman and co-chairman of Working Title, to identify initiatives to grow independent film companies and proposes a web-based talent showcase to be launched in the fall.

Bevan said, “We’ve set out a renewed mission, a new set of priorities, and a new way of working. With the right level of support, a successful British film industry can continue to help get the U.K. out of recession, drive innovation and create more highly skilled jobs.”

The UKFC recently cut overheads by 20%, and Bevan acknowledged that “further tough choices probably lie ahead.”

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