The cash-strapped London Film Commission (LFC) is planning to slash back staffing levels from 14 to 4 members of staff in a bid to survive, a spokesperson confirmed this week.
Unless a last-minute backer emerges, the LFC will continue as a dramatically scaled-down operation supported by £150,000 a year from the government's film super body, the Film Council.
The LFC was previously funded by the government and a raft of private backers such as United International Pictures on a short-term basis. But the commission argues that it could not grow without receiving a long-term commitment to funding from the government and UK broadcasters. The LFC had aimed for a long-term commitment of £475,000 a year.
"We had £150,000 from the Film Council on the table but that is not enough to continue running as we were," a spokesperson said. "It was either liquidation or try to think how we could be radically downsized."
Under the plan to scale down, the LFC will shed staff including its board and chief executive on Friday. The revamped commission, which is likely to seek other backers from the private sector, is to focus on film instead of working across all media. It will also work closely with local boroughs within London.
While some productions - such as Shakespeare In Love - have gone straight to local London boroughs, the LFC is highly regarded by many producers. The LFC has recently worked on features such as Notting Hill, The World Is Not Enough, Sleepy Hollow and The End Of The Affair.
"Putting all that together has been a mammoth task," said Duncan Kenworthy, producer of Notting Hill. "We were way behind many big centres like New York, where they saw the advantages of bringing filming into the city."
Another potential source of support may eventually emerge after London elects a mayor this year. While sources said the newly-created office would not focus on film until its second term, most UK film commissions have support from local rather than national government in addition to private backers. The leading candidate for major, Ken Livingstone, was close to forming a film office when he headed the now defunct Greater London Council.