UPDATE: The UK government agency supporting the film industry in East Anglia has gone out of business because of financial problems. Finance manager Melvin Welton has been arrested on suspicion of theft. Laurie Hayward, CEO, told local newspaper Norwich Evening News: “The directors of Screen East have concluded that the company is insolvent and can’t meet its debts as they fall due. The directors have taken advice and appointed an insolvency practitioner to take the company into administration. We’ve no further comment at this time.” Hayward confirmed that Welton had been arrested though and a police spokesman said: “Norfolk Constabulary can confirm that a 61-year-old man from Great Yarmouth has been arrested on suspicion of theft and released on bail pending further inquiries.”
Screen East is one of a network of regional agencies promoting the East of England as a location for movie and TV production, attracting investment by marketing the region’s locations, facilities and crews.
Hollywood movies that have shot in the area include The Dark Knight and Batman Begins, both of which used an old aircraft hanger to build extra soundstages, Stardust and Children of Men.
Screen East already had a question mark over its future following the government’s decisions to scrap both the UK Film Council, the national film agency, and East of England Development Agency, Screen East’s other main financial backer. UKFC tells me: “This matter is subject to a police investigation and we can make no further comment.”
Nobody was answering the phones at Screen East and emails have gone unanswered. Laurie Hayward, CEO of Screen East, wasn’t answering his mobile.