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UK Film Council to be scrapped as part of quango mass cull


Details of the surprise announcement about the axing of the UK Film Council amidst dozens of other arts quangos.

23.58 With the Facebook group inching towards 5,000 members, and the petition well over half that, the web is awash with comment and analysis. Andrew Pulver, Ronan Bennet and John Woodward all have pieces in the Guardian,  the BBC have rounded up some industry reactions and also put a few dozen UKFC short films to watch on Film Network.

18.05 The regional screen agencies are safe (for now), according to the DCMS in a quote published on Northern Media's website.

17.03 These Twitter streams are good places to keep up with latest developments and opinions: 'Film Council' and 'UKFC'. There's also a 'Save the UK Film Council' Facebook group and a petition.

15.31 Questions over - with hints that the axe may not have fully fallen and a clear sign that there will be further be consultations.

15.15 The DUP's Ian Paisley is asking about the UKFC. Jeremy Hunt replies: 'We have not announced a decision,  we have announced that we are considering doing this, as we want to hear everyone's views. The UKFC spent £3m on back office administration last year and we want to ask how that money could be better used to support filmmakers."

15.10 So that was a very brief statement. Nothing new learned. Except asking about England's 2018 World Cup campaign is 'a very good question'.

15.08 Now on to the World Cup 2018. What!?!

15.08 'Every penny to be spent frontline services and not on back office bureaucracy'. 

15.06 'A brief statement'. Says Jeremy Hunt. Finally. He does use the phrase 'considering the closure of the UK Film Council' as if to say there is still room for discussion.

14.58 Ben Bradshaw, shadow culture secretary is asking if the DCMS is lobbying for larger shares of the budget than other departments. Bradshaw notes there is no-one from the LibDem front bench in the Commons. Bradshaw, openly gay, is calling them the Brokeback Mountain Coalition.

14.55 Creative Partnerships (a brilliant scheme) being discussed in the Commons. May the axe not fall upon them. Vaizey at least acknowledges there lots of 'good initiatives on the ground'.

14.52: House of Commons questions continue. Lots of interesting questions on media ownership, the BBC and the Digital Economy Bill but not about today's announcements, presumably will come at the end after pre-submitted questions are asked. My connection keeps dropping as well, there must be a lot of people viewing it.

14.34: House of Commons Questions  for Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture have started. The BBC is taking top bill: and dedicated page here.

14.04: John Woodward, CEO of the UK Film Council has sent an email to industry colleagues which includes a timetable for closure:

"The Minister for Culture, Ed Vaizey, has said that the target is to have the organisation totally closed down with its assets and its remaining operations transferred out by April 2012. That does, at least, give us time to honour our current commitments and, as far as possible, to continue our funded support for film while the DCMS  ensures an orderly transfer of remaining film functions to other Government departments and/or agencies. My one priority over the next few weeks will be to press the Government to confirm that the funding levels and core functions that are needed to underpin British film are locked-in.

"It’s important to stress that the Government has said it remains committed to both the current Film Tax Relief and to the principle of Lottery funding for film. To that end, our existing funded activities will continue to operate as normal while we work with the DCMS over the Summer to identify how they can guarantee both continuity and safe harbour for British film going forward.

"I completely understand that you will have lots of questions – but many of the answers will have to wait until the dust settles and the DCMS comes up with a new plan for film clearer in the months ahead. We will of course keep you abreast of further developments."

13.02 - UK Film Council statement. Responding to today’s announcement by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport of plans to abolish the UK Film Council as one of 16 quangos cut by the DCMS, Tim Bevan CBE, co-head of Working Title and Chairman of the UK Film Council, said:

“Abolishing the most successful film support organisation the UK has ever had is a bad decision, imposed without any consultation or evaluation. People will rightly look back on today’s announcement and say it was a big mistake, driven by short-term thinking and political expediency. British film, which is one of the UK’s more successful growth industries, deserves better.

“Our immediate priority now is to press the Government to confirm that the funding levels and core functions that are needed to underpin British film are locked-in, especially at a time when filmmakers and film companies need more support than ever as they make the challenging transition into the digital age. To that end, we will work with the DCMS over the summer to identify how they can guarantee both continuity and safe harbour for British film.”


Dozens of new UK Film Council funding awards announced

uk_film_council_logoNew features from Peter Mullan, Paul Andrew Williams, Hideo 'the Ring' Nakata, Stephen Frears, Mike Leigh, artist Gillian Wearing, Neil Marshall and James 'Man on a Wire' Marsh have all received production finance from the UK Film Council.

The latest details of production and development finance has been released with perhaps its strongest slate of productions since inception. Other production highlights include the sequel to East is East (West is West), a doc on the life of cinematographer Jack Cardiff (interviewed here by Stephen Applebaum), a reworking of Graham Greene's Brighton Rock and Morag MacKinnon's second feature in Lars von Trier's Scottish Advance Party Trilogy, Donkeys (the first being Andrea Arnold's acclaimed Red Road).

The development awards include new work from Lynne Ramsay, Andrea Arnold, Lee Hall, Nick Hornby, Conor McPherson, Jeanette Winterton, Hanif Kureishi, Noel Clarke, Simon Beaufoy, Danny Huston, Paddy Considine, Frank Cotrell-Boyce, Michael Winterbottom, Christopher Hampton, Matt Greenhalgh, Stephen Fry and Tony Grisoni.

Africa United

Marking the feature film directorial debut of Debs Gardner-Paterson, Africa United is the extraordinary story of three Rwandan children who run away from home in a bid to take part in the opening ceremony of the 2010 Football World Cup in Johannesburg. On their epic 3000 mile journey they gather a "dream team" of displaced kids through whose eyes we witness an Africa few have ever seen. Written by Rhidian Brook. A UK/Rwanda/South African co-production produced by Mark Blaney, Jackie Sheppard and Eric Kabera alongside co-producers Mark Hubbard and Lance Samuels.
Funding awarded: £500,000 (production)

Attack the Block

The writer-directorial debut of Joe 'Adam and Joe' Cornish, about a gang of south London teenagers defending their tower block against an alien attack. Produced by Nira Park, James Wilson and executive produced by Matthew Justice, all for Big Talk Pictures.
Funding awarded: development (Big Talk slate); £1,094,239 (production)


UK Film Council Short Film Completion Fund is open for submissions

From Tamsin Ranger @ MayaVision:

Individual producers or production companies are invited to send a rough cut of their unfinished short film (up to 15 minutes in length) to Maya Vision International, along with a completed application form. The closing date for applications is 5pm, Monday 30 November 2009.

There will only be ONE call for applications for 2010 - so do make sure you get your film into us and don't hold back on the good stuff! Full guidelines, forms and more information can be found at


UKFC £740k shorts funds to now back disabled filmmakers and animators

uk_film_council_logo.gifNews just in from the UKFC on the New Cinema Funds' planned short film investment for the next year. As well as support for the first time for disabled filmmakers through the new Magic Hour strand, support has been offered to 13 animators through 4mations Digital Shorts, a partnership between Channel 4, Lupus Films and Aardman Animations. From the press release:

Disabled filmmakers will benefit from The Magic Hour, a new £40,000 shorts scheme being managed by 104 Films.  In the first shorts programme dedicated to disabled filmmakers, ten people will receive intensive project and story development training over an eight week period and following an assessment, five projects will go into production, each with a budget of £8,800.  The filmmakers will also take part in The Script Factory training programme supported by Skillset receiving a complete overview from script development to different exhibition strategies.  Additional support from the UK Film Council’s Diversity team will support out-reach work to disabled filmmakers bringing UK Film Council funding to £97,000 for the programme.

4mations Digital Shorts, a partnership between Channel 4, Lupus Films,  Aardman Animations and the UK Film Council, and the new online animation channel 4mations, is a national search for animated shorts from new and emerging talent across the UK.  Working with 13 UK strategic partners to fund 13 animated short films, they will have an online premiere on 4mations and may also be broadcast on Channel 4 (


Development fund unveils debut slate for First Feature Awards

One of the more promising schemes to come out of the UK Film Council in recent years, the Development Fund's programme for first-time filmmakers has made its first awards to creatives and projects reflecting the fund’s stated aims to open up opportunities for budding writers and filmmakers across the UK. The first set of awardees includes three writers who are completely new to the industry.

The programme aims to identify and support emerging filmmakers: screenwriters, writer/directors and writer, director, producer teams who have not made a feature film or who have not yet had a feature film released theatrically or broadcast on UK television, whilst also fostering talent that has already made a mark in shorts or other media.  In addition to providing financial support, the programme also includes mentors, with Simon Beaufoy, Ayub Khan Din and Pawel Pawlikowski already lined up. Details of the first six winners, whose awards averaged £10k, after the read more link.