At a swanky reception in the heart of London's financial district, Film London yesterday announced a range of measures designed to turn the new film and media agency into a body with the same scope and power as the New York Film Commission.

"It has been a nightmare trying to make films in London, let's be honest," the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone told a packed audience of sponsors and filmland grandees.

Through the London Development Agency, Livingstone is investing £3 million over three years in the fledgling organisation which was launched in early 2003. "Every film that celebrates London brings in visitors," the Mayor stated.

Top priority is to cut the bewildering amount of red tape filmmakers confront when they make movies in the capital. To this end, Film London has grouped together over sixty partners in The Film London Partnership, an alliance including all of London's boroughs, the Metropolitan Police, travel and tourism organisations and even, intriguingly, the United Grand Lodge of Freemasons. "We're in for the long haul," Livingstone commented. "New York did this decades ago."

Given the paucity of British films in official selection in Cannes, extra attention is now bound to be paid to one of Film London's new schemes, the inaugural London UK Film Focus - the screenings market for invited international buyers at the National Film Theatre in late June.

Millions, Enduring Love and Churchill The Hollywood Years are among the titles likely to feature at the event. "We're anticipating that about 200 buyers will attend," Film London Chief-Exec Adrian Wootton told

Among the other initiatives which Wootton announced yesterday are a low-budget feature film fund to be launched later this year, a London's Children's Film Festival and a film production task force to be led by Lord Puttnam with a brief "to address the strategic issues that affect filmmaking in London."

The Capital, Wootton pointed out, is the third busiest production location in the world, generating close to £1 billion in spending every year.