UKFC launch new £15m fund, appoints Wharton, Collins & Franke, confirms Innovation Fund

Written by Nic Wistreich on . Posted in Finance

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The UK Film Council today published its three year plan and launched its new £15m Film Fund to be headed up by Tanya Seghatchian. In developing the final plan, the UK Film Council spent three months consulting on the proposals, engaging with hundreds of people from across the film sector, facilitating more than a dozen consultation sessions and attracting almost 1,000 responses. The plan specifically:

Alongside this plan, the DCMS have been leading merger discussions between the UK Film Council and the BFI. These discussions have been underway since August 2009 and continue.

The new appointments to Tanya 'Harry Potter/Heyday Films' Seghatchian's team include: 

Launching UK Film: Digital innovation and creative excellence, Tim Bevan CBE, Chairman of the UK Film Council, 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 UK out of recession, drive innovation and create more highly-skilled jobs. Further tough choices probably lie ahead, but having reduced our overheads by 20% and positively responded to the needs of British filmmakers we’re now in the best place we can be to support and promote UK film in the years ahead.”

John Woodward, Chief Executive Officer of the UK Film Council, announced that the new £15m-a-year Film Fund had opened its doors for business. Managed by a new team of experienced senior production and development executives, the fund has introduced a brand new online application process in which applicants will set out their creative and strategic visions for their film.

Woodward commented: “The new Film Fund’s primary focus is creative excellence. Tanya and her team will support filmmakers who want to put British filmmaking at the centre of our national culture and on the international map. The aim is for the Film Fund to attract the best talent, encourage creative risk taking, and deliver great films to audiences.

“Joining Tanya in the search for creative excellence will be a team of three Senior Production and Development Executives with an impressive and broad range of film industry expertise. Natascha Wharton, Lizzie Francke, and Chris Collins each have big production successes under their belts – together, it’s a team that will provide a wide range of expertise and tastes as well as a supportive, energetic and ambitious home for British filmmaking talent.

“The team will all work across the full range of projects in production and development, but individually they will also have specific responsibilities.”

The Film Fund is open for applications from 1 April, but it will be presenting a more detailed strategy to the UK Film Council Board in the coming months. It has already been agreed that a portion of the £15m budget will be ring-fenced for development – although there will be no automatic assumption that projects developed will become films that the fund would then invest in at the production stage. The remaining budget will be safeguarded for the Film Fund’s own production investments. Further details will be announced in the coming months, in addition to details of the Film Fund’s non-London investment target and how the new online showcase will operate.

Natascha Wharton

Natascha has been at Working Title Films for most of her film career.  During her time there,  she set up WT2, Working Title’s low budget film division.  The first film through that division was Billy Elliot, on which she was an Executive Producer.  She was Executive Producer on a further ten films through WT2, including Shaun of the DeadAli G Indahouseand My Little Eye. Later, when WT2 was absorbed into WT’s main slate Development Department, she became Head of Development and was Executive Producer on Hot Fuzz.

Lizzie Francke

Lizzie started her career as a film critic in the early 1990s, contributing to titles such as The Guardian, The Observer, Sight and Sound and Screen International.  During this period she also wrote the book Script Girls: The History of Women Screenwriters in Hollywood. In 1997 she was appointed Artistic Director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival and in her five years there re-established the festival as a key showcase for British cinema. She moved into production in 2001, first for Little Bird, where she co-produced Marc Evans’s thriller Trauma, then as Executive Producer for EM Media, where her credits include ControlAnd When Did You Last See Your Father?, A Complete History of My Sexual Failures and Better Things. She also acted as the British co-producer on Vinyan, the second film from the cult Belgium director Fabrice du Welz, which had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Lizzie has been a Development Producer for the UK Film Council’s Development Fund since January 2008. She managed the First Feature stream, which is dedicated to emerging writing and directing talent. Films that she worked on during that period include the The Arbor, directed by Clio Barnard and debuting at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival, and artist Gillian Wearing’s directorial debut Self Made, which is currently in post-production. 

Chris Collins

Chris started his career working in television documentaries, after which he joined BFI Productions in 1997 as a development and production executive, where he oversaw films such as John Maybury’s Love is the Devil and Jasmin Dizdar’s Beautiful People. He then spent ten years in the independent sector as a producer working with filmmakers such as Pawel Pawlikowski, Francesca Joseph and Sarah Gavron on critical successes Last ResortMy Summer of LoveTomorrow La Scala! and Brick Lane. He also worked with BBC Films on a series of shorts with filmmakers like Vito Rocco and Andrea Arnold. Since 2007 Chris worked as a Development Producer in the UK Film Council’s Development Fund where he managed the funding strand for experienced writers, directors and producers. Projects developed range from new screenplays by Duane Hopkins, Noel Clarke, Matt Greenhalgh and Hanif Kureishi to the recently completed Tamara Drewe, written by Moira Buffini from Posy Simmond’s graphic novel and directed by Stephen Frears.

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