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UK Government Shuts UK Film Council

July 30th, 2010

dcms-logoThe Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) plan to abolish the UK Film Council and the news has caused outrage across the UK film industry with the likes of Mike Leigh, Liam Neeson and its Chairman, Tim Bevan CBE, all speaking out regarding the decision.

Bevan called the decision, “imposed without any consultation or evaluation,” while Neeson called the government’s decision to axe the UK Film Council as “deplorable”.

The government announced on Monday that it is to abolish the Council as part of a cost-cutting drive by the DCMS. The Film Council was set up by the Labour government to develop and promote the British film industry. Funded by the National Lottery, it channelled around £160m into more than 900 films over the last 10 years, including Bend It Like Beckham, The Last King of Scotland and this year’s hit, Streetdance 3D.

Online petitions have been set up to hopefully save the Council and work in the same vain as the Save 6 Music campaigns. The online petition now has nearly 10,500 members and a Facebook group called Save the UK Film Council has also been created, which currently has almost 17,000 supporters – with 10,000 supporters apparently signing up within the first 24 hours.

The page’s description reads: “Join this group and pass on the message to show Mr Hunt that stripping away potential for our future film-makers is a huge mistake for one of the world’s most creative countries.”

Without the UK Film Council the UK film industry loses a huge amount of support and funding and the cull of such an important institution throws greater strain on young talent as well as writers, directors and ‘budding filmmakers’.

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Tough Times for UK Indies

July 23rd, 2010

UK Film Council Statistical YearbookThis week the UK Film Council stated that the number of feature films funded in the UK fell from 77 in 2008 to 71 in 2009. The figures were released as part of the Film Council’s first fully-searchable website with comprehensive statistics.

Median budgets for UK domestic feature films also fell from £1.7 million in 2008 to £1.5 million in 2009.

“Overall it’s clear that British cinema has been weathering the global recession well,” said UK Film Council chief executive John Woodward. He added that the sectors of production, distribution and exhibition were “firing on all cylinders”.

For a small country, the UK film industry has an astonishing creative track record. Of the top 200 global box office successes of 2001-2009, 30 films are based on stories and characters created by UK writers, which together have earned more than $16 billion at the worldwide box office.

The UK Film Council report showed that independent UK films were at their most popular in 2009 – both in the UK and global markets – since records began.

As mentioned on the BBC website this week, with the success of films such as Slumdog Millionaire, indie films took 8.2% of the UK and 2.3% of the global market share. Other top performers included Nativity and The Young Victoria.UK Film Council

The Film Council report also showed that British film talent – including actors, writers, directors and crew – continued to shine on the international stage. Some 14% of all major awards won around the world between 2001-2009 were won by British films and talent.

John Woodward commented that, “Low budget independent production is a tough business – it always has been,” noting that figures for the first half of 2010 showed a continuing pressure on smaller film production. The marketplace for financing small and independent films has always been difficult and the recent economic slowdown has not helped the situation, along with world broadcasters paying less for feature films and the slow erosion of the DVD market.

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CNN Snap Up Piers Morgan. The PMA Network At Summer Party.

July 16th, 2010

piersmorganThe former Daily Mirror editor, Piers Morgan, is reportedly poised to replace veteran talk show host Larry King on American news channel CNN. According to The Sun newspaper, Morgan has signed a £5.5m, four-year deal with CNN to replace King. This follows reports in the US media that NBC had agreed to share Morgan with CNN, clearing the way for negotiations to begin. Morgan is contracted to NBC as a judge on America’s Got Talent. CNN has been losing a ratings war with Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News and it is hoped that Morgan can gain ground on the competing news channel.

King, aged 76, announced his retirement last month and a host of rivals, many of them better recognised in America, were in the running to replace him on his nightly interview slot. They included American Idol host Ryan Seacrest and CBS News presenter Katie Couric. King was even reported saying he wouldn’t recognise Piers Morgan “if he saw him walking down the street”.

larrykingMorgan, 45, who recently celebrated his marriage to Daily Telegraph journalist Celia Walden, is believed to have impressed CNN executives with his bold and direct interviewing style. Talks were complicated by Morgan’s commitments to NBC. His NBC contract prevented him from taking on extra work that clashed with the show, but this has now reportedly been resolved.

Back in the UK, the BBC announced this week that Gwyneth Williams has been appointed controller of BBC Radio 4 and Radio 7. Ms Williams was, until recently, director of the BBC World Service’s English programming. She will replace Mark Damazer, who is moving on after six years to become head of St Peter’s College Oxford. Her most pressing issue is likely to be the succession process on the station’s biggest show, Today. BBC political editor, Nick Robinson, has been tipped for a permanent presenting role on the programme.

img_4409And finally, some of the industry’s leading production managers gathered on Wednesday evening in Notting Hill for the PMA (Production Manager’s Association) summer party. Sponsored by Production Wizard, the members made the most of what seems to be left of the English summer and were able to relax and converse over champagne and canapés.

The PMA provides invaluable information and support for its Members, regular social events, workshops and training courses. “Within the Film and Television Industry the Association provides a unique network for both freelance and permanently employed Production Managers.”

For photographs from the evening visit our News section and Facebook page:

http://www.productionwizard.com/about/news01

http://www.facebook.com/productionwizard

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Soho Runners in a Pink Fluster

July 9th, 2010

img00001-20100708-1722The Vision Charity Soho Fun Run returned this year and witnessed more teams and three-legged race runners from the TV and film industry weave their way through the streets of Soho, stopping off at points to collect their drinks and raise funds and awareness for the Vision Charity and its sterling work with blind, visually impaired and dyslexic children.

Production Wizard’s stand stood out from the crowd with its pink theme and white balloons and we handed out pink Prosecco to continue the trend and quench the thirst of the runners. It’s fair to say, that on their arrival to the Square and finishing stop, the charity runners were in high spirits from spirits.

We met with the runners and discussed how Production Wizard can help to make production bookings and job searches easier, from sourcing freelance suppliers quickly and easily to comparing the freelance rate market and saving bookers time and money when crewing up for productions.img00009-20100708-1828

The party continued well into the night in Soho Square with drinks being served and the band playing to the eager dancers. Boos rang out as the band packed away, before taking again to the stage for one more song as Love Shack had the runners, sponsors and event organisers up and grooving.

For more pictures from the event and info on Production Wizard, see our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/productionwizard and follow us on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/productionwiz

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Have Channel Five Found Their Man?

July 2nd, 2010
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John de Mol

A new prospective bidder has emerged in the sale of RTL’s Channel Five, as Dawn Airey, Five’s chief executive, meets with more than a dozen different potential buyers.

The Dutch media entrepreneur John de Mol – of Cyrte Investments and Talpa Media, as well as founder of Endemol and creator of the Big Brother and Deal or No Deal formats – is working with Antenna Group of Greece in an attempt to acquire Channel Five.

Cyrte Investments owns around a third of Endemol, the Dutch Big Brother producer co-founded by De Mol in the 1990s. De Mol created the Big Brother format (coming to an end of their 10-year run in the UK) when he ran Endemol and there is speculation that several long-running reality TV series, including Big Brother, could appear on Five should his bid with Antenna succeed, according to a report in on the FT.com website on Wednesday.

The Antenna chief executive, Theo Kyriakou, is understood to be in London this week for talks with JP Morgan, who are running the sale. The leading financial services firm are expected to narrow down bidders over the next three weeks before selecting two prospective buyers who will then be given access to Five’s latest trading figures.

Dawn Airey

Dawn Airey

It’s difficult to put a figure on the company as Five has been making a loss (there was a £10m recorded operating loss in 2009), however its value lies with its content and format shows, as well as its ability to run paid advertisements. It is believed from bankers and analysts that TRL want around €200m for Five.

In 2005, Forbes magazine named De Mol as one of the 500 richest people in the world. The pan-European broadcaster is 90 per cent owned by Bertelsmann of Germany.

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