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Matador Pictures to focus on development as it launches separate film financing unit

EXCLUSIVE: UK independent film development and production company Matador Pictures has launched Gloucester Place Films in a move that will see the production and financing activities of the company split.

The new subsidiary will be responsible for managing the film financing side of the business and will advise a number of EIS and non-EIS businesses engaged in feature film production and international sales.

Gloucester Place Films will focus on making sales advances from $800,000 to $6.4m (£500,000 to £4m), recouped from pre-sales and tax credits.

Speaking to Screen, Matador founder and CEO Nigel Thomas explained that the move had been prompted by their involvement in recent films Kasper Barfoed’s The Numbers Station [pictured], starring John Cusack and Malin Akerman, and John Ridley’s All Is By My Side.

“We ended up being producers on those films, albeit alongside other producers and we want everyone to understand that that’s what we’ve done, not just a co-financing thing,” he said.

“For a long time within Matador, we’ve been looking after the financing side of things and the development and production side of things. I think it was confusing people whether they were talking to a financier or a producer and that’s really come to the fore over the last year or so.

“To avoid this confusion, we thought we should split the two sides to emphasise that Matador is a creative developer and producer and always has been.”

Original production plans

As a result of the launch of Gloucester Place Films, the move paves the way for a renewed emphasis on the development and production of original material within Matador, supported by substantial development resources.

“We’ve always had material under option but now we have access to fairly significant development funding so we’re starting to deploy that now. We’re picking up books, acquiring scripts and we’ve ramped up the story department so we are moving much more aggressively,” explained Thomas.

While the move won’t see Matador focussing solely on higher budget features – “we don’t want to ignore the lower budget films because we’ve done those quite successfully and we do have a pretty good record of working with first-time directors or writers and giving them their first or second film” – it will see Matador’s scope widened.

“It makes much more sense in a business model to do films of a higher budget. We’re not going to be troubling Hollywood but at the same time for the UK, we would aim to be doing films at the higher end of the range,” commented Thomas.

“Safe pair of hands”

Thomas hopes that the move leads to Matador being seen as a “safe pair of hands” for projects. “The thing with development is you always think of it as one of those yellow box junctions: you don’t want to go in unless you’ve got an exit route out,” added Thomas.

“Because of the financing activity, we have a route out. If we pick up a project, we have the means to get it made which is not a common thing for a lot of producers around town. We’re trying to say that the door is open for talent to come in because we can get their film made.”

New hires

Alongside the launch of Gloucester Place Films, Matador is re-structuring internally and has announced a number of new hires.

Long-time Matador producer Charlotte Walls has joined the board alongside Thomas.

Lucia Lopez has been promoted to head of development and acquisitions, while Matt Wakeham and Orlando Cubitt join Lopez’s development team.

Former city lawyer Saira Mian joins the company as head of legal and business affairs. 

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