British Film Institute Takes Over Distribution of Lottery Funds for Movies

Ed Vaizey announces shakeup to funding distribution and promotion in the U.K.


LONDON -- The British Film Institute is to take over the distribution of lottery funding for movies from April 2011 while Film London, the government-backed film and media agency, is tasked with glad handling Hollywood studios and other overseas production interests in an attempt to bring them here to shoot movies.

The biggest shakeup to funding distribution and promotion here in the U.K. for over a decade comes in the wake of the government's decision earlier this year to shut down the U.K. Film Council.

Minister for culture, communications and creative industries Ed Vaizey announced the series of changes Monday to an audience of industry players.

Vaizey also restated the government's commitment to maintaining the tax credit system for U.K. films and confirmed that the share for film of lottery-generated funds will increase from around £27 million ($42 million) to around £43 million ($67 million) annually by 2014.

"The valuable tax credit remains, lottery funding will increase and the BFI will be the flagship body for the delivery of the U.K. film policy," Vaizey said. "We have listened to the industry and we know that there is more that we can do to support our talented film-makers and to create a more stable and financially sustainable industry. What we will do now is make sure that our investment in film is properly targeted and transparent."

Vaizey said Film London would be on point through a public-private partnership with key film industry bodies including Pinewood Studios Group, U.K. Screen Association and the Production Guild to promote the U.K. as a movie-making destination.

Film London chief executive Adrian Wootton said the establishment of a national branded organization indicated government understanding of how important "a strong, vibrant and busy film production industry is in creating employment opportunities in the U.K. and making a significant contribution to the country's economy."

A recent report indicated the industry here contributed over £4.5 billion ($7 billion) to the U.K. economy in 2009.

Wootton noted that London is home to around 75% of the U.K.'s film industry.

Film London said it will also work with BAFTA, the British Film Institute and BBC Worldwide on initiatives to build on existing capacities and connections to explore showcasing and promoting Brit films to the U.S.

Directors U.K., the trade body repping over 4,000 film and TV directors, welcomed the moves.

Directors U.K. CEO Andrew Chowns said: "We welcome the clarity that today's announcement brings and we look forward to working with the BFI to ensure that the lottery funds can be used to the most beneficial effect for U.K. film makers, producers and audiences.

A detailed timetable for the transfer of functions will be published in the New Year with an expectation that transfers will be completed by April 2011.