BFI Adds to Board, Increases Production Funds

Josh Berger, Beeban Kidron, Matthew Justice added to board, funding upped by $4.8 million.

LONDON – The British Film Institute begins its newly expanded life having absorbed key staff and functions of the now-deceased U.K. Film Council – including the distribution of lottery funds for film production – by ramping up its board members.

Josh Berger, the president and managing director, Warner Bros. Entertainment U.K., Ireland and Spain, Beeban Kidron (Bridget Jones, Edge of Reason, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit) and producer and Big Talk production banner managing director Matthew Justice (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Attack The Block) are among the five industryites looking to help steer the organization in the brave new world.

The BFI's first move is to officially announce its intention to pump £3 million ($4.8 million) more into U.K. production for the year through 2012 giving applicants an £18 million ($28.8 million) cashpool to dive into.

BFI chair Greg Dyke said the appointments come as the industry and beyond is "about to see the biggest change to the film landscape in the past ten years."

The BFI hires comes after the government's decision to shut down the U.K. Film Council and spread its administrative tasks across Film London and the British Film Institute.

Dyke said the five new appointees "have each been chosen for the individual skills, wisdom and strengths they will bring to the BFI so that it can lead on delivering a dynamic new plan for film in the U.K."

BFI director Amanda Nevillt old The Hollywood Reporter she hopes the transfer of funding duties from the defunct UKFC, shuttered by the British government last year, will be "seamless."

Said Nevill: "Building on the experience and expertise of both the BFI and the UKFC, we now have an historic opportunity to create a single voice and cohesive vision for film. The new era isn't about an organization, it's about film, film makers and audiences, and that will be our focus."

Government minister for the creative industries Ed Vaizey emphasized the fact the BFI is now "the lead agency for film" in the U.K. and aimed to reassure a twitchy industry that the transfer of UKFC activities "has been concluded with no disruption to filmmakers."

The BFI is now the lottery cash distributor for film, which includes funding for film development and production, distribution (the P&A Fund), training and education through Skillset and First Light.

The BFI move comes just days after it was revealed British producer Iain Smith, a familiar name to Hollywood studio-backed productions basing themselves here in the U.K., has been hired to chair the British Film Commission (BFC) tasked with heading up U.K. efforts to attract inward investment from Hollywood and beyond.