UK Producers Scrap Open Letter to Times

Independent producers have cancelled writing an open letter highlighting their plight for fear of upsetting UK broadcasters. Indie producers were about to publish a letter in the Times newspaper this Monday. A minority has intervened, killing the letter for fear of upsetting the BBC and Channel 4.

Pact, the producers’ association, recently called for state film funding to be reformed. Indie producers were about to take the argument to the government and wider general public.

I’ve been told that a handful of top-flight producers thought the letter was too provocative. Pact has spent weeks drafting the wording. Its signatories included pretty much every British film producer of note.

“They didn’t want to rock the boat,” one signatory tells me. “It was absolutely pathetic. They behaved as if their invitations to Chequers [prime minister’s country house] were about to be cancelled or something.”

Anyway, here is an earlier draft of the unsent letter:

Dear Sir

As the recent Palme d’Or success at the Cannes Film Festival show, the UK is home to a wealth of creative film making talent. However, as a group of some of the UK’s most established and successful independent film producers, we are concerned that, despite such creative success, sustainability of our businesses remains an elusive goal.

Over £100m is invested by public bodies into UK film each year, yet, thanks to the current business model where even for very successful films, producers are unable to retain a fair share of the income that the film generates, leaving them dependent on public subsidy with limited ability to create sustainable, investable companies. For instance, a recent UK Film Council report stated that over half of independent film production companies in the UK are loss making, despite their films being amongst the most popular with audiences, both here and around the world.

The current funding model for UK film production needs to evolve.

Independent trade body for producers, Pact, has put together a range of sensible proposals that look to break this cycle of dependency, without the need for more public money. They propose that if the current public money was used in a different way, film producers who make successful films will be able to share in that success and be less dependent on public funding in the future. This means more stable businesses, more jobs and ultimately, a sustainable film production sector.

We urge the government, and the public funders of UK film – the UK Film Council, BBC Films and Film Four – to adopt Pact’s proposals and move forward to a solution that works for all.

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