British Film Commissioner to Step Down

Colin Brown will leave his post after four years on the job.

British Film Commissioner Colin Brown, who has been seen as the key link to the big Hollywood studios, is stepping down from his post after four years on the job.

The announcement Tuesday comes in the wake of major changes in the structure of support for British filmmaking and the film commission since the U.K. Film Council was closed last year, and its functions were placed under other organizations.

Part of the reason the U.K. Film Council was shuttered was to reduce costs, including the salaries of at least eight top officials, including Brown, who made more than 100,000 British pounds a year each.

The irony is that in the year since the closing and restructuring, the U.K. has had record results – includng the success of Oscar winner The King’s Speech --  allowing Brown to exit at a high point.

“The pleasure of serving in such a great job has been enhanced by the successes,” Brown said Monday evening in Los Angeles at a reception hosted by British Counsul-General Dame Barbara Hay, where he revealed he was leaving.

“Last year alone we broke the record for inward investment in the UK with an almost $1.5 billion production spend,” said Brown. “And, of course, out of this activity very tangible financial and creative benefits accrue to all partners.”

Brown said he leaves “behind a fantastic team in the safe hands of Adrian [Wootton, CEO of Film London and the British Film Commission],” adding: “I know that their joint efforts will continue to provide the highest level of service.”

Wootton praised Brown in a statement and said: “Although we are extremely sad to see him go, I am very confident that the British Film Commission and its new Advisory Board has the talent and expertise to continue building on the unit’s recent success and 2010’s record breaking year.”

That $1.5 billion is a 15 percent increase over the prior year.

Iain Smith, chair of the BFC, said in a statement that he thanks Brown for a seamless transition, adding: “Adrian and the team will be carrying on Colin's excellent work by continuing to improve the U.K.’s inward investment strategy, to ensure that we remain one of the most attractive countries in which to make international feature films.”

This past April, the BFC was put under Film London, which became a national organization. Samantha Perahia continues in London as senior production executive and the point of contact in the U.K. The U.S. office in Los Angeles continues to be headed by Andy Weltman, BFC exec vp.

The U.K bills itself as the busiest film production center outside of North America. The BFC is now a public/private partnership and receives funding from the British Department of Culture, Media and Sport, and others, as well as the British Film Institute from its share of lottery funds. 

A spokesperson for Film London said: “Offices in both the U.K. and L.A. are maintained and, save news of Colin’s departure, the full team on both side of the Atlantic have been retained and it is very much business as usual. Also, the U.K. government have been very clear that the lucrative and attractive U.K. Film Tax Relief is very much secure and is not being reviewed as they very much understand its value.”

Joining Smith on the Advisory Board are senior film industry executives from the British industry and national agencies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.