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Old 27th Apr 2009, 02:00 PM   #1
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Wink Financing, Production and distribution Round Up - May 2009

This month's news from Malcolm Moore, Planispheres.


The Cannes Film Festival (13-24 May 2009) will be watched for signs that international sales and finance are stabilising or continuing to worsen. Previously pre-sales provided a significant proportion of a films production budget, but tightening credit worldwide has made funding even more challenging. Buyers are being selective since there is still a surplus of product from the pre-crunch boom, but markets should improve with the need to acquire new content for 2011 and beyond. The outlook for UK independents remains uncertain, with some funding being reduced as new money is made available for digital.

UK Film Council
The UKFC's funding will be cut by 22m over the next five years as money is diverted to pay for the Olympics, despite the commercial and critical success of recent British films. The 15% cuts will reduce funding for British films by 4.4m each year. UKFC chair Stewart Till leaves in July, Tim Bevan at Working Title is a key contender for the post. DCMS announces a new appointment in the summer. An ongoing inquiry by the House of Lords Communication Committee focuses on the role of the Film Council, reviewing the UK film producers’ tax credit and improving the contribution of film and TV to the economy.

New 5m for accessing and commercialising content in a digitally networked world
The UKFC’s new initiative with the Technology Strategy Board has been set up to support new business models and services, to maximise revenue for content creators and rights holders. www.innovateuk.org

Government budget announces 2.5bn funding for digital investment
The UK’s media, technology and music sectors will be able to draw on a public fund for investment "in the industries and high-paid, high-skilled jobs of the future". www.hm-treasury.gov.uk

Future of public service broadcasting
The House of Lords communications committee is recommending a limited "contestible" fund that commercial broadcasters and independent producers could apply to for production finance. The House of Commons media select committee rejected media secretary Andy Burnham’s PSB funding solution of a tie-up between Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide. Instead they’re calling for the licence fee to be top-sliced, BBCW's commercial activities to be cut back and its first-look option on BBC shows to be dropped.

Skillset bursaries for freelancers and employees re-open for applications in May.
Skillset is providing bursaries again, up to 80% towards the costs of approved course fees and travel costs. Recently it has been harder to access training funds from regional screen agencies. www.skillset.org

Short Film Completion Fund (2009/II) deadline extended to Tuesday 5th May 2009 5pm.
Send a completed application form and a rough cut of your unfinished short film (up to 15 mins) to Maya Vision International. www.ukfilmcouncil.org.uk/shortfilmcompletion


The UK’s crews, locations, studios and post-production facilities continue to be attractive for Hollywood productions. Previously the UK’s high labour costs have been a disincentive, but the introduction of the UK’s producers tax credit in 2007 has helped and as the value of sterling dropped over the past year, US dollar purchasing power in the UK increased by 38%. Two US studios currently in production in the UK are Fox with ‘Gulliver's Travels’ and Warners with the final two Harry Potter films.

Film London 'Cost Forum'
The Film London forum met with representatives from 33 London boroughs and key locations as part of a review to standardise costs and licensing and make it easier for productions to film across the city. 115 films were shot in the capital last year bringing in a total of 268.5m.
American Producer-Screen Actors Guild and Screen Actors Guild TV reach agreement.
There are hopes that production, which began to stall during US negotiations, will pick up now that the SAG will be balloting members in May, recommending an 3.5% increase for film and TV work with another increase next year. A deal would last until June, 2011 (in synch with DGA, WGA and AFTRA agreements).

Screen South “On The Lot” New Entrants Training Programme 2009 – 2010
Application deadline: 27 May 2009. Looking for 6 film trainees to work for one year from September 2009 based at Pinewood and Shepperton Studios. www.screensouth.org

Scottish Screen announces new investment guidelines for 2009/10
Funds are now available on a rolling basis, designed to create opportunities for talent, businesses and audiences to develop and grow. www.scottishscreen.com
British film industry legend Jack Cardiff OBE dies
The respected cinematographer and Oscar winner started as a four year-old child actor, and by working his way up from runner became cameraman on the Powell-Pressburger classic ‘A Matter Of Life and Death’. With Oscars for ‘Black Narcissus’ and his lifetime contribution to cinematography he worked with Hitchcock, Huston, Vidor, Bogart, Ava Gardner, Katherine Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren.

According to the UK Film Distributors' Association, the early signs for UK admissions and box office revenue are good for 2009. Easter weekend box office receipts were up 9.3% from last year and overall the UK box office is 16% better off during the first quarter. The UK Film Council’s Prints and Advertising Fund has spent 1m across 18 movie titles to boost distribution prospects. The P&A Fund supports smaller films in an effort to heighten exposure and publicity or make more prints available for release.

International theatrical revenues now account for 65% of Hollywood studios' box office
The Motion Picture Association of America's recent annual report showed a 7% increase in international grosses to $18.3bn in 2008. Global figures were up 5.2% on 2007 to a record $26.7bn, but for the first time the MPAA is not revealing production, marketing and average theatrical costs.

Two British films compete for the 62nd Cannes Film Festival
Andrea Arnold's ‘Fish Tank’ and Ken Loach's ‘Looking For Eric’ are in competition for the Palme d'Or. Arnold's second feature after ‘Red Road’ (a Jury winner in 2006) is backed by BBC Films, the UK Film Council and Limelight. At the launch of the official selection, festival president Gilles Jacob announced a new digital initiative to encourage young audiences to watch the first five minutes of a film (when theatrically released) on the revamped festival website. www.festival-cannes.fr/en.html

Missed opportunity - ITV and YouTube fail to reach agreement on Susan Boyle
There were no adverts around Susan Boyle clips on itv.com, though the broadcaster achieved massive free distribution and used it for marketing ITV’s ‘Britain’s Got talent’. Both companies missed out on selling advertising despite the web sensation breaking YouTube viewer records. YouTube is set to announce a deal with multiple studios to seed their site with full-length, ad-supported library films.

BBC/ITV/BT joint venture ‘Project Canvas’ hits competition concerns
The IPTV project aimed to make on-demand broadcasters and web-players like iPlayer accessible on televisions by adopting a standard IPTV set-top box for the UK only. OFCOM have said that the joint venture raises competition concerns and the technology trade body ITC have claimed the proposal risks isolating the UK as a ‘technological island’.

Pirate Bay file-sharing website guilty of breaking copyright law
A Swedish court sentenced four men to a year in jail and ordered them to pay 2.4m in damages to Warner Bros, Sony Music Entertainment, EMI, Columbia Pictures and others. Their site hosts "torrent" links to TV, film and music files held on its users' computers. One defense lawyer, seeking a retrial, claims the judge was biased, being a member of a copyright protection group. In France a modified version of an anti-piracy law aimed at internet users will be presented, after parliament unexpectedly defeated wording that the audiovisual industry had assumed would go through easily. The New Zealand government has decided to redraft a bill which would have required ISPs to terminate repeat downloader’s accounts.

MIPTV - sound-bites from the audiovisual and digital content market in Cannes
Global producer-distributor Endemol say they’re putting “hard cash into creativity to ride out the current economic gloom. We're also hurting … humbled, we're not saying … we're insulated from the crisis, but in spite of that we're optimistic and we think we have the creative assets to survive".
Ben Pyne, president of global distribution at Disney-ABC Worldwide TV and DMN expressed his view that “new-media rights should be viewed as a separate window, not just a throw-in". “We're past the crawl phase, and are in the walk phase". "All the key areas are now in place, so now the question is do we have the stomach to live through the growing pains we are going through with the economy today."

DISCLAIMER This report has been prepared for FDMX for general information only. No liability arising from the interpretation or use of any opinions offered is accepted. Planispheres cannot be held responsible for any losses or claims howsoever arising from its use or reproduction
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