BBC Films chief exits for independent career

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LONDON -- Long-standing BBC Films chief David Thompson is stepping down from the pubcaster's film arm and kick-starting a career as an independent producer.

Thompson, who has helmed BBC Films for 10 years and established himself as an executive with a sharp eye for quality projects, exits essentially in the aftermath of a power shift at the corporation that dates back several months. (HR 5/24).

He leaves the BBC, a place he has been for 32 years, with a first-look deal for film and TV drama at BBC Fiction.

The pubcaster has decided to cut the stand-alone tag and bring BBC Films into the overall BBC Fiction fold.

He also willcontinue to executive produce for BBC Films "a slate of existing projects from development through to completion over the coming years," the BBC said.

Thompson's departure could be seen as rather swift: He will leave his current role in just four weeks, with his new shingle not scheduled to launch until 2008.

For his part, Thompson said he is leaving on good terms with his employer.

"I feel really privileged to have had the chance to work for BBC Films for many years and the opportunity to work with such an amazing array of talent both new and established," Thompson said. "I am delighted that my new arrangement with the BBC will enable me to build on these relationships in the years to come."

The familiar face on the international movie circuit thanked his team at BBC Films and said that he has yet to come up with a title for his new venture.

"I am particularly proud of the current slate of films in development and production, which is our strongest to date," Thompson said. "The experience of running BBC Films for a long time -- both the creative and the commercial side -- gives me confidence in this new venture."

BBC Fiction controller Jane Tranter, who is credited with the decision to bring it all under one roof, said Thompson left BBC Films with "an impressive slate of international and domestic successes and a truly awesome contribution to the film and drama creative community in the U.K."

Tranter added that she was delighted "the BBC will continue to benefit not only from his unrivaled years of expertise and experience but from his infamous tenacity, impeccable taste and sharp wit" through the first-look deal.

During his time at the BBC Films helm, Thompson has executive produced titles including "Iris," "Billy Elliot," "Dirty Pretty Things," "The History Boys" and "Notes on a Scandal."

He also has championed such emerging directors as Pawel Pawlikowski, Andrea Arnold, Lynne Ramsay, Saul Dibb, Francesca Joseph and Dominic Savage.
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