How did you get into the business?
I'm London born and bred, comprehensive school education, very proudly. I got into the film business by answering an ad for a p.a. to the managing director of Mainline pictures, I had no experience whatsoever. I was a p.a. for a year and at that time Mainline were a distributor, they own all the Screen cinemas in London so they worked on exhibition as well. I graduated onto press and PR and ended up doing the PR for Shakar Capur's Bandit Queen, brilliant movie. I was very lucky to do all that at the tender age of 21 and then I left there to go into international sales and marketing with Mayfair Entertainment International. Its basically like wholesaling the international rights of films whether they are made or not. I did that for 3 years, I was at Granada Film for a year as a sales and marketing consultant but ended up cutting my teeth on distribution. I see that as the most important in filmmaking, getting the film out to the punters and proving that it is worth it, I got a taste for it then until the job at the Film Consortium came up
.Tell us about The Film Consortium.
The film consortium is financed by the national lottery via what was the arts council of England and is now the film council, we are basically one of the 3 successful franchises that won a share of the £100million of lottery funding about 2 and a half years ago. When it was announced that the money provided would be to nurture the somewhat flailing UK film industry, literally the whole of the industry, producers, distributors and production houses banded together to create bids. There were always going to be 3 successful bids and it turned out to be us Pathé and DNA.We are made up of 4 production companies; Parallax (Ken Loach, Sally Hibbin, actor Phil Davis, director Les Blair), Scala (Stephen Woolley & Nik Powell), Greenpoint Films (Patrick Cassavetti & Ann Scott) and Skreba (Simon Relph & Ann Skinner) with a 25% shareholding from Virgin Cinemas. Their stake has now been bought by Whitecliff Film & TV (Richard Holmes) with a view to taking over the full 100% within 3 years. Basically, we are set up to be a mini studio, we develop, we part finance, we have a video deal, a deal with Channel 4 and we have a distribution arm which is me. We are effectively a one stop shop with a 25% stake in the sales company that gives us a means to sell the rights to our movies internationally.The brief is to not only produce shareholder movies out of those 4 production companies but also to nurture and develop new filmmakers. To date we have produced 4 shareholder projects; Hold Back The Night (produced by Sally Hibbin), Lost Son (produced bt Nik Powell), Gillies McKinnon's Hideous Kinky and Fanny & Elvis starring Ray Winstone. Whitecliff also have a production arm and a TV arm so we now have a production community under one umbrella, that effectively doubles our output.
None of our forthcomings are shareholder related. We've got Clare Kilner's feature debut, Janice Beard:45wpm with Rhys Ifans, Eileen Walsh and Patsy Kensit and we've got an animated version of A Christmas Carol by a really well respected director called Jimmy Murakami ( dir. When The Wind Blows, supervising dir. The Snowman) and produced by Iain Harvey (When The Wind Blows, The Snowman). That's got a great voice cast of Nicholas Cage, Kate Winslet, Simon Callow, Michael Gambon, Rhys Ifans again and Jane Horrocks. Its not due until Christmas 2001 because animation takes so long to produce and we've got Jimmy Spud written by Lee Hall, the writer of the West End Play Cooking With Elvis and that will be directed by Udayan Prasad (My Son The Fanatic). Finally we have a brilliant co production with Channel 4 called Large which is a directorial debut for Justin Edgar. Its got a fantastic script but to be a bit pat about it its rather like brummy American Pie, really really funny.We had a ready made slate of shareholder projects but now the brief is really to nurture talent so we've got established casts with a lot of first time filmmakers and thats why we won the franchise in the first place, that and to make a few family movies which is where A Christmas Carol comes into it.