Overhaul of UKFC

From Screen Daily today:

UKFC announces sweeping reorganisation, new production fund

17 November, 2009 | By Sarah Cooper

The UK Film Council (UKFC) is proposing to merge its Premiere, New Cinema and Development funds to create a $25m (£15m) Film Production Fund, as part of a major overhaul of the organisation following its $41.9m (£25m) budget cut.

The new fund will be used to support all production but will have an emphasis on first and second time film-makers, and will also support experimental, innovative and digital film-making. The UKFC has launched a three month public consultation into the plans today (November 17).

The $25.1m (£15m) budget for the new fund is $3.3m (£2m) lower than the total allocated to three separate funds. It is understood that it will be led by four executives, who will be appointed by April 2010.

The plans also propose a new $8.4m (£5m) Innovation Fund that will promote new business models and aims to ensure UK film’s transition into the digital age; but other funds will be reduced or scrapped completely including the Film Skills Fund, which will be reduced from $11.7m (£7m) to £5.6m (£3.5m) and the P&A Fund which will be cut from $6.7m (£4m) to $3.3m (£2m). The digital archive fund will be closed down altogether.

Meanwhile, the Regional Screen Agencies look set to be amongst the biggest losers in the reorganisation – their UKFC budgets will be cut by 20% – but there is a new minimum target of 25% for non-London film production.

As part of the reorganisation, the UKFC will cut its overheads by 20% and it has confirmed that around 22 jobs will be cut. The UKFC’s total budget will now be $99.2m (£59.1m) over the next three years, down from $117.5m (£70m).

The UKFC has been receiving around 46% of its budget coming from lottery funds, 40% from government support through grants, and the remainder from investments and other sources; however, it has been forced to make cuts as lottery cash is now being diverted to the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Tim Bevan, UKFC chairman, said: “The support the UK Film Council has given film culture and the film industry over the past ten years has been enormous, but we’re now operating in a very different environment and we need to adapt to meet the needs of a new generation of audiences and film-makers. To do that when the UKFC itself is having to find savings of $41.9 (£25m) over the next three years is a real challenge. But it’s now more important than ever to ensure we invest as much money as possible in film production, in creative and cultural excellence, and in helping UK film make a successful transition into the digital age – and that’s exactly what we’re proposing to do.”

UKFC chief executive John Woodward added that the reorganisation takes into account the economic downturn, the lack of finance for new production and the collapse of the traditional business model as well as the cuts in budget. He said the priority was to “protect the money for development and production funding”.

In other changes, any money recouped by the UKFC from their investments will now go directly back into the Production Fund. Meanwhile, a “producer equity” scheme will be introduced that will see producers being given a cut of the money recouped by the UKFC.

According to Woodward, the overhaul remains separate from the proposed BFI merger. The BFI’s budget is $27m (£16m) a year and if the merger goes ahead, there will be savings from shared costs, he said.

UKFC announces sweeping reorganisation, new production fund | News | Screen

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