The UK film industry can breathe a sigh of relief - it is not losing one of its most experienced producers and financiers, but gaining a friend. As of July, David Parfitt, a producer at Trademark Films and co-founder of the Limelight Fund, has taken over as chairman of the British Academy of Film & Television Arts (Bafta) - perhaps the UK industry's most visible international figurehead. But he has no plans to give up his day job.
"I hope to make at least a couple of films during my two-year tenure," says Parfitt, whose credits include Frankenstein, The Madness Of King George and Shakespeare In Love.
Parfitt's latest project is A Bunch Of Amateurs, a comedy starring Burt Reynolds as a fading Hollywood action hero who finds himself in an amateur production of King Lear in an English village. Imelda Staunton and Derek Jacobi co-star.
Directed by US TV veteran Andy Cadiff, the project is now in post in London and will be released in the UK in the autumn by Entertainment Film Distributors. Odyssey International is selling the film outside the US, where Cinetic Media has rights. It has been co-financed by the Isle of Man's CinemaNX film fund and shot in part on the island.
With its rose-tinted view of English village life, Parfitt admits the film is more Calendar Girls than This Is England. "I will be first in the queue to see Shane Meadows' latest film, but I'm not interested in making gritty realism myself," he says.
Parfitt is also executive producing Toa Fraser's Dean Spanley, a story about canine reincarnation starring Sam Neill, Jeremy Northam, Bryan Brown and Peter O'Toole, which was shot in New Zealand and the UK. "It's very funny and very moving," Parfitt says. The project, also in post, is lead produced by New Zealand's Matthew Metcalfe and UK-based Alan Harris, and has pre-sold internationally to Paramount.
Parfitt's future productions will include Simon Curtis' My Week With Marilyn, for BBC Films and the UK Film Council, which is set to shoot in spring 2009.
The Limelight Fund, where Parfitt sits on the board, is also very active, backing about one film per month, including Noel Clarke's Adulthood and upcoming titles Moon, directed by Duncan Jones, and Fish Tank from Andrea Arnold, which has just started shooting.
In his new role as chairman of Bafta, Parfitt plans to carry on the work of his popular predecessors, producer Duncan Kenworthy and TV veteran Hilary Bevan Jones, in increasing awareness of the organisation's work. He is familiar with Bafta after serving as chairman of the Film Committee for several years.
Parfitt explains: "Over the last few years there have been massive changes here and we now have a thriving centre (the renovated headquarters on Piccadilly in London), with lots of events and screenings all over the country. We are doing all the things we should have been doing years ago."
One of his aims is to focus on the Bafta website, using it as a tool to reach a wider audience. And while Parfitt has the task of furthering the annual Bafta Film Awards, he says: "It's also about getting the message across that we are an educational charity, not just a grand organisation with some rather nice awards ceremonies."