Magazine article Screen International

UK Producers Talk about 'Downward Pressure on Budgets'

Magazine article Screen International

UK Producers Talk about 'Downward Pressure on Budgets'

Article excerpt

Stephen Evans, Paul Webster, Neil Thompson and Richard Holmes spoke at GlobeScreen conference in London.

Film finance isn't easy, and never has been. But there's money available for many levels of film if you approach the market correctly, expert producers said during a UK film finance panel at the fourth GlobeScreen conference at London's Mayfair Hotel on Nov 20.

Stephen Evans of Britannia Films said: "It is tougher to make movies than it has been. But there's nothing wrong with that because movies should be tough to make. There is the producers tax credit and the EIS schemes, so for cheaper movies it's probably easier. When you move up to $10m-plus that gets tough. That depends your relationships with studios, broadcasters, distributors, whether you can actually get over that hurdle."

Evans' credits include Henry V and The Madness of King George and he is now financing a biopic of the legendary late golfer Seve Ballesteros.

Paul Webster of Shoebox Films, which recently produced Anna Karenina and Stephen Knight's forthcoming Hummingbird, added: "I made my first feature about 25 years ago and it was one of 28 made in Britain, now we make around 150-160 per year. The difference is now is that the market is polarized. For the independent film we're sensing a huge downward pressure on budgets. That is in a nutshell due to the failure of the digital world to monetize itself to replace the old value chain of theatrical-DVD-TV... The middle ground the $10-$20m is becoming increasingly hard in the last couple of years particularly."

One company concentrating on Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) funding for the past few years is Formosa Films, which has produced Clubbed and Twenty8k using such schemes.

Formosa's Neil Thompson said of private equity: "Since 2008 that's increasingly hard to get. But it's coming back again. For our new projects, around the $6m range, we're finding that distributors and sales agents and the international companies that you deal with that's what they're looking for is things that can be much more theatrically driven with bigger stars in them. So it's low budget but with a much bigger budget than before."

Richard Holmes, whose credits including Waking Ned Devine and Shooting Fish, has recently produced via his Big Rich Films the Welsh-set feature Resistance and the forthcoming Jadoo. "I have found that since 2009-2010 I've been able to access more [finance]," he noted. "I am like a theatre producer right now, I go out with a film director and we find a room full of people who are high net work individuals. …

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