Broadcasters and the UK Film Council have been non-committal while regional screen agencies have expressed wariness. However, producers themselves have given expectedly full backing to Pact’s blueprint.
As the UK film industry begins to digest Pact’s bold new proposals for producer recoupment (see Screen’s story detailing the plans), it is apparent that opinion is divided about how workable the proposed ideas will be.
Broadcasters and the UK Film Council have been non-committal while regional screen agencies have expressed wariness. However, producers themselves have given expectedly full backing to Pact’s blueprint for growing a sustainable and profitable UK production sector
The proposals, contained in today’s report “A New Business Model For UK Film,” advocate that producers should be allowed to recoup public investment of funds in their films.
“Pact has not discussed this report with Film4. We look forward to reading it, but until then we are not in a position to comment further,” said a Film4 spokesperson.
BBC Films likewise declined to comment on proposals that the industry is still mulling over. “We will read the proposals in the coming weeks and discuss with PACT in due course,” a BBC spokesperson commented.
“We’re looking forward to the report and any findings that could be useful in the broader debate around improving the sustainability of independent British production companies,” John Woodward, Chief Executive of the UK Film Council, commented earlier this week.
Producers, though, were quick to welcome the Pact proposals.
“You can’t build a proper business unless you can have a share of the action when you make a film,” said Rebecca O’Brien of Sixteen Films. “A new model is needed…after 10 years of the Film Council, although valiant efforts have been made, we still don’t have a sustainable production sector.”
Producers expressed optimism that UKFC’s new chair Tim Bevan, who is currently chairing a Film Council “think tank” to identify ways of growing UK film companies of scale, would be responsive to their proposals. They also pointed out that Pact’s ideas did not require any further money from the Government.
Paul Trijbits of Ruby Films likened the current plight of British producers to “the equivalent of pumping up a flat tyre with holes in it. You never seem to get any further.” He pointed out that Pact’s proposals, particularly as regards any amended Terms of Trade with public service broadcasters, will “unlock rights…broadcasters don’t exploit rights in the same way as independent (production) companies, and has proven to unlock real value for television companies. We would do the same because it is our life blood. This coupled with producer reoupment as proposed by Pact would fundamentally change the production landscape at no cost to public funders and broadcasters.”
However, Hugo Heppell, Head of Production at Screen Yorkshire, cautioned that regional funds are no longer able to take “the soft financing perspective prevalent in the past.” Their money is likely to be available to producers only on firm commercial terms.
“The idea that production companies should recoup 100% of public investment into projects is completely impossible from our perspective,” Heppell commented.
Laurie Hayward, Chief-Executive of Screen East, was likewise cautious about the Pact proposals. “Helping to build viable production companies is the cornerstone of Screen East’s ambition and a debate about how screen agencies can contribute even more to help achieve that is welcome,” Hayward said. “As for making over 100% of recoupment and profit to the production company, currently it wouldn’t be possible with our $5.35m Low Carbon Production Fund because the requirement of the European Union is to channel the ‘profit’ into a Legacy Fund to support future productions from any eligible producer. Certainly, screen agencies do not themselves benefit from any recoupment or profit.”