U.K. film fund revamped to nurture first-timers

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LONDON -- The U.K. Film Council's £4 million ($8 million) annually fueled development cash pool has had a refit under the watchful eye of fund chief Tanya Seghatchian.

Seghatchian said Monday that she is dividing up the fund into two main areas, one for established moviemakers and a second for first-time filmmakers.

The Feature Film Development program is billed as a dedicated strand for producers, production companies and filmmakers with a proven track record. Successful applicants will be able to access awards to fund several stages of development and will be encouraged to bring development partnership funding from other sources.

But Seghatchian said such funding wouldn't be essential for a successful application, and awards will likely range from £25,000 ($50,000)-£125,000 ($250,000) for this part of the cash pool.

The other main strand of the new-look fund is the First Feature Film Development pool. It aims to identify and support emerging 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 U.K. television.

Generally, awards of up to £25,000 ($50,000) will be offered to screenwriters and writer-directors to write and develop a feature film, the council said.

Seghatchian and her team also will dish out Signature Awards, set up for "world-class filmmakers with their own distinctive voice/style" looking to make British films with "cultural relevance here."

The new fund chief said the council is scrapping its "development premium," which previously made producers pay back more than they received on the first day of shooting.

Seghatchian said the changes were to bring the fund in line with what happens in development in the production sector and draws on her experience there. She has a host of top credits, including early outings of "Harry Potter" and Pawel Pawlikowski's "My Summer of Love."

"What I really want to do is to focus the whole process on the talent. I want to create a new generation of writers, and I think our new-look fund can help do that," Seghatchian said.

The changes are effective immediately, the Council said.

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