From Deadline|London editor Tim Adler: Industry executives have welcomed Natascha Wharton’s appointment as the UK Film Council’s new head of development. Working Title made Wharton redundant last July. Wharton was executive producer on Hot Fuzz and Billy Elliot. One observer I spoke to said Wharton’s appointment shows the Film Council recognizing the importance of people having industry experience – not just coming from the state sector.
Lizzie Francke and Chris Collins have also been picked to work with Film Fund boss Tanya Seghatchian. Francke will deal with experimental features, while Collins will work on cutting-edge ideas, whether it’s for micro-budget features or 3D blockbusters. Both Francke and Collins are internal promotions.
Another executive I spoke to said all three appointments have excellent creative credentials.
The consolidated Film Fund will have £15 million to play with, although the UKFC will top this up from money it recoups from previous film investments. I wrote back in December that the Film Council was planning to increase its recouping corridor from 10% to 38%, subject to EU approval.
Film Council chairman Tim Bevan is to chair a think-tank looking at how to grow bigger UK production companies. In effect, create more Working Titles. His company has long been held up as the model to follow. This begs the question as to why after 10 years of the Film Council, there aren’t already more “independent UK film companies of scale” as the press release puts it. The UKFC’s original mission statement was, after all, working towards a sustainable British film industry (although this has now been dropped in favour of the more generic “assisting the film industry”).