BBC Films Managing Director Jane Wright Steps Down

The exec plans "to explore several new opportunities in film," she tells THR.

LONDON -- BBC Films managing director Jane Wright is stepping down at the end of the month "to explore several new opportunities in film," she said.

Wright is a familiar face in the U.K. and on the international movie industry scene after more than 15 years with the pubcaster's standalone moviemaking unit.

Wright was elevated to the post of BBC Films managing director in 2009 after a period of management turmoil at the unit which had seen the departure of BBC Films chief David Thompson, whom she worked with for years, the subsequent introduction of a management board and the arrival of indie producer Christine Langan as the unit's creative director.

Said Wright: "David Thompson and I were excellent partners and Christine Langan and I were excellent partners. This [departure] is a little more about me as I have been at the BBC for a long time."

Wright said she leaves the unit in good shape, having turned it into an "extremely attractive partner for top British talent and the international film industry, and very much valued by the BBC."

Most recently Wright has executive produced West is West, the sequel to East Is East, scheduled for release early next year.

BBC Vision director Jana Bennett thanked Wright for her "significant contribution" to BBC Films over the last 15 years.

“Jane's depth of knowledge about the film industry has helped to shape our strategy and position BBC Films right at the heart of the British film industry," Bennett said.

Filmmaker Gurinder Chadha, to whom Wright played a key part in getting Bend It Like Beckham commissioned, noted she'd always found the BBC exec to be "open, responsive and encouraging to filmmakers."

Sarah Gavron, who worked with Wright and the BBC team on her debut feature "This Little Life" also thinks Wright is a creative executive. "She was a wonderful supporter and facilitator right through from financing the film to getting it out to an audience," Gavron said. "She is in tune with film-makers and able to use her skills to the great benefit of the project.

Wright initially joined BBC Films to work on marketing and film investment before moving on to become vp, co-productions and sales for BBC Worldwide Americas.

She was made BBC Films head of business development in 1998, specializing in raising co-production finance. In 2000 she went to movie sales and finance banner The Sales Company, to act as interim CEO, where she commissioned Chadha’s Bend It Like Beckham and sold the Academy Award Best Foreign Film winner, No Man's Land, directed by Danis Tanovic around the world. Returning to BBC Films as head of rights and business affairs in 2001, she managed the legal and business affairs team and marketing functions at BBC Films.

BBC Films has an annual budget of £12 million ($19 million) but uses what is a rather small sum to kick start and develop a large sphere of filmmaking ambitions.