Magazine article Screen International

David Puttnam Calls for Strong EU Links and VPF Wind-Down

Magazine article Screen International

David Puttnam Calls for Strong EU Links and VPF Wind-Down

Article excerpt

FDA president also calls for a senior indie distributor to be appointed to the BFI board.

As Brexit continues to pose fundamental questions to the industry a year after the UK voted to leave the European Union, veteran British producer and Film Distributors' Association (FDA) president David Puttnam has called for Britain to remain in the EU's MEDIA programme.

Speaking to Screen after delivering his annual keynote address to the FDA, he expressed his confidence it may now be possible for the country to remain in the EU initiative, which provides funding to support the development and distribution of films.

"A soft Brexit, which becomes more possible because of the election, would incorporate things like university research. If we manage to create an environment in which it was accepted that British universities would engage with the Leonardo Programme and all those university programmes, I can well imagine this (the MEDIA Programme) being bundled in with that type of approach - those cross-country cultural programmes."

Puttnam added that it is in the interests of other EU members to have the UK remain in the Media Programme: "We are an access point to the US market. If they are suddenly cut away from us, the only English-language market available to them is Ireland - and Ireland is not a big enough market to justify the dubbing of a movie."

He also warned that it would be bad public relations for the government if the UK was to become isolated culturally.

'It is very, very hard for the (UK) government to argue that as a byproduct of their policies, they are effectively bringing an iron curtain down culturally. No Government would want to claim that."

Finishing VPF

Speaking on another contentious subject, he called for UK exhibitors to arrange an orderly finish to the Virtual Print Fee (VPF) system and warned of potential chaos if VPFs remain in place at some sites but not at others: "There is a real downside to being the last man standing charging fees. If I'm an independent distributor, I'll say, 'You know what, sod it, I am not going to play there...I'll just frankly avoid that chain of cinemas.'"

The veteran producer suggested it was "common sense" for there to be an agreed end date to the VPF scheme. …

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