John Woodward says he will leave British film agency in early November now that the Conservative government has ordered the UK Film Council shuttered. Woodward wants to be un-conflicted while negotiations are ongoing with the new government as to what will replace the UKFC. The first round-table meeting between government and industry takes place this week. The government is expected to announce its thinking in October. But nothing will happen before the government announces its public spending review — it’s expected to cut 25% off the budget of most Whitehall departments. “It should then, rightly, be for others to take the new system forward and write the next chapter for UK film,” Woodward says. His announcement follows conflict with the new Conservative UK government and controversy in the Murdoch-controlled British media over whether Woodward’s UKFC has spent public money on campaigning for a reprieve. This includes “briefing” the film industry, including Hollywood, to protest its closure. Clint Eastwood, DreamWorks, and dozens of British actors are publicly condemning the shutdown. The new UK government has been rattled by the strength of public support for the film agency. One producer I spoke to called Woodward’s resignation “long overdue”, charging him with endangering the future of state film support by lobbying against the government. It will be interesting to see what Woodward — who, until events of recent months, has always been the sharpest of political operators — will do next. In the past he’s talked about moving to Hollywood or getting into a movie rights aggregation business like LoveFilm. I’m told he’s had lots of offers already.
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