Vaizey eyes new regime to fund movies

Also announced earlier this year U.K. Film Council to shutter

LONDON -- Culture secretary Ed Vaizey told the British film industry that he is looking for a new regime to dole out state funding for the movies, after controversially announcing earlier this year that the U.K. Film Council would be shuttered by 2012.

At a closed-door meeting in Whitehall on Wednesday, Vaizey told representatives from the entire umbrella of U.K. film-related bodies that it was time for a new approach.

According to one insider there, the meeting was decidedly "preliminary," with a run of further meetings and get-togethers planned to decide a new policy framework for the industry before key decisions are made.

Vaizey is understood to have used the meeting to reiterate his message that government support for film would continue, and that total investment in British film from lottery funds would – overall – increase.

Tax credits supporting the industry would also remain in place.

Earlier, in a statement flagging up the meeting, the Culture Minister said he believed that the British film industry was a key growth area going forward.

"I want a robust and coordinated strategy to promote the U.K. as the best place to invest in film making and to provide real support and advice to film makers and investors alike," Vaizey said.

"I want to make sure that public funds generate value for a wider audience and are focused where they can really make a difference," he said is a pre-released statement.

Representatives from a line-up of 22 film-related industry bodies including the Arts Council, the BBC, the British Film Institute, the Cinema Exhibitors' Association, Film London and Pinewood Shepperton were at the meeting.

The U.K. Film Council has as handed over some £160 million ($250 million) in lottery cash into more than 900 British made movies over the past decade - including such iconic fare as "Tamara Drewe," "Gosford Park," "Vera Drake" and "Bend It Like Beckham."

Despite the support of a slew of industry heavyweights including Clint Eastwood and a very public denunciation from Working Title co-founder and Film Council chair Tim Bevan, the incoming Conservative government said in July that the Council would close by 2012 and its film-financing functions given over to other bodies.
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