Harder road ahead for Film4

'Slumdog' backer sees shrinking budget

LONDON -- Film4, the embattled moviemaking unit of U.K. pubcaster Channel 4, is facing leaner times in the months to come as cash from its parent shrinks to fit the current economic malaise.

It means the unit -- which originally optioned and developed Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire" with writer Simon Beaufoy adapting novel "Q&A," going on to co-finance the Oscar hopeful with Celador -- will have to find such gems with even less cash backing than its current $15 million annual budget.

Film4 chief Tessa Ross, who has a knack for unearthing such material and an enviable list of talent relationships with filmmakers, says cuts to her annual spend "are inevitable."

Make no mistake, Ross is hugely ambitious for the stable of talent she fiercely guards and develops and is incredibly gung ho about the filmmakers she has.

"I want them (Christian Coulson and the 'Slumdog' team) to win so badly on Sunday night (at the Oscars)," Ross said. "I really believe they deserve it and the movie is a shining example of the sort of film Film4 is all about."

Ross, who also oversees Channel 4's drama output, said: "Our money (here at Film4) is being squeezed like everything else across the channel. But we are still very driven by British talent and providing them with a place to develop projects and bring them to screen," she said.

The unit already has a slew of projects in development or coming through including projects from Shane Meadows, Sam Taylor Wood, Ken Loach, Chris Morris and the next script from Beaufoy.

Ross and her team are undaunted at the prospect of having to make do with less than $15 million annually in the next couple of years. After all, she's managed to make that sum go a long way across pictures that continue to make an impact here and abroad.

After potential U.S. partners have asked her to repeat the $15 million sum again, thinking she said $50 million, Ross says it always comes down to partnering with filmmaking talent.
comments powered by Disqus