Shocking Facts: Who’s who on the UK Film Council Board of Directors

UK Film Council – Board Members

Please note: Stewart Till is no longer the Chairman; having acquired ICON he is now devoting his energies full-time on acquiring the distribution rights to US movies for the UK and various other English speaking territories.

The current Chairman is Working Title Film’s head, Tim Bevan. Working Title was acquired by Universal in 1999, and is known for making films with British subject matter that are closely tailored to the US market. Through is LA offices it has also produced  US ‘specialty-division’ films by, amongst others, the Cohen Brothers. Still at least Bevan is a producer…..

Total members :14 + CEO and Chair

Number of film directors: 1 – Beeban Kidron (OK, more of a TV director – see imdb)

Number of film producers: (essentially 1) – Rebecca O’Brien, producer of many Ken Loach films (which would never have been produced if they weren’t French) as well as Mr Bean.

Executive Producers: Pippa Cross – very experienced – see imdb

Greg Dyke – now head of the BFI

Heather Rabbatts CBE is also listed as an ‘independent film producer’. This is her C.V:   graduate of the London School of Economics, of which she is now a governor, and London University; masters degree in international relations; qualified barrister; former deputy chief executive of Hammersmith and Fulham Council; chief executive of Merton and Lambeth Councils; founder of the public-sector consultancy iMPOWER; head of education at Channel 4; BBC governor; director of the Bank of England and the UK Film Council; trustee of the British Council. And oh, head of broadcasting for New Moon, the film company whose award-winning video helped London secure the 2012 Olympics. See: http://www.new-moon.co.uk/index.aspx

Mark Devereux. Mark Devereux is a solicitor, specialising in media, and is the Senior Partner and a founder member of the law firm Olswang. Olswang specialises in such as organising co-production deals for US majors seeking to take advantage of UK tax breaks etc. Olswang has a formal alliance with a major US law firm Greenberg Traurig LLP.

Gail Egan.  Gail Egan is a qualified barrister and practised commercial law at Lincoln’s Inn before joining Price Waterhouse Corporate Finance.

Nigel Green, joint Managing Director of Entertainment Film Distributors,  – described by the FC as “the most successful UK film distribution company”. It’s success has been dependent on acquiring distribution rights to such as: The Departed, Million Dollar Baby, Brokeback Mountain and Lord of the Rings; as well other apparently British but actually American films such  Run Fat Boy Run and Gosford Park. (so, as you can see the description ‘UK film distribution company’ has missing from it ‘of overwhelmingly US films’)

Stephen Knibbs. Chief Operating Officer at Vue Entertainment (originally Warners, continued in American hands when bought by SBC. But then VUE was formed as the result of a management buyout. Vue is very profit driven and has placed more emphasis on the importance of ‘concessions’ in its revenue stream than any other of the chains. Seeks to  ‘out-American’ the Americans.

Barbara Broccoli Current heir of the American dynasty which has been part of United Artists since 1962. More recently has also developed close links with Colombia Pictures

Thomas Heogh CEO of Arts Alliance Media. AAM was the first company in Europe to have deals with 5 major Hollywood studios (Fox, Universal, Sony, Paramount & Disney) to fund a digital cinema rollout of up to 7000 screens, under a Virtual Print Fee financing model. Awarded the UKFC’s ‘Digital Screen Network’ contract which was worth around £13 million of Lottery money. This scheme provided large subsidies towards the initial installation of the digital projectors which Hollywood needs to screen its 3D films. Somehow the Film Council managed to present this scheme as being something which would benefit such as ‘Classic’ and independent foreign and UK films (!)

Amanda Walsh previously Chief Executive of Lowe London – a division of the US advertising and media giant, IPG.

Elisabeth Murdoch, CEO of Shine Limited and second daughter of global media magnate  Rupert Murdoch, whose ownerships include the Fox Entertainment Group….

Josh Berger. Recently appointed to the board, Josh has been President and Managing Director of Warner Brothers Entertainment (UK) since 2002.

Stewart Till CBE (Chairman UKFC) appointed as the Chairman of the UK Film Council on 1st August 2004, taking over from Sir Alan Parker CBE. He was previously, from 2000, the Vice-Chair. For most of this period he was also Chairman and CEO of  UIP – the cartel formed by the Hollywood majors with the purpose of co-ordinating the distribution of their films in all territories outside of the USA and Canada. In 2006 the UIP cartel began to fall apart.

“September 08, 2008 Stewart Till, the former CEO of United International Pictures and current U.K. Film Council chairman, has made his first major move toward an international distribution empire, snapping up Icon Group’s international sales arm and distribution companies as well as its Majestic Film and Television library. Till’s Stadium Entertainment, backed by Access Industries, among others, is taking 100% of Icon’s distribution and sales operations in a multimillion-dollar deal subject to due diligence.” Hollywood Reporter

“THE Hollywood star Mel Gibson and his business partner, Bruce Davey, have sold their sales and film distribution businesses in Australia and Britain.

The sale, to the British film executive Stewart Till, has them continuing in film production from Los Angeles and retaining the Dendy cinema chain here.

A former chief executive of PolyGram Filmed Entertainment and United International Pictures, Mr Till aims to build an international distribution network outside the Hollywood studio system.

His company, Stadium Entertainment, picked up the international sales and distribution operations of Icon Group for an undisclosed sum. The deal includes the Majestic film and television library, which includes the Oscar winners Driving Miss Daisy and Dances With Wolves.” Sydney Morning Herald

Much of the financial backing for Till’s Stadium Entertainment is reported to be from New York billionaire Len Blavatnik.

John Woodward CEOWoodward has an extensive track record in heading up other film and television industry organisations. Prior to joining the Film Council he was Director of the British Film Institute (1998-1999) working with BFI Chairman Alan Parker and was instrumental in refocusing the BFI as an educational body.

Before that, as Chief Executive of the Producers’ Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT), Woodward set up and ran the most successful and influential trade association in the UK film and television industry representing the commercial interests of some 1,000 film and television companies. Previously Woodward had ran the successful “25% campaign” forcing the BBC and ITV to buy 25% of their programmes from independent producers. Woodward also successfully lobbied for the introduction of tax breaks for film production investment and the introduction of Lottery funding for film.” – UK Film Council

So, in the past, Woodward was more than just very much in favour of quotas favouring British independent producers, he was the most active campaigner. But, given the composition of the UKFC’s Board, it is hardly surprising that the has made a 100% volte face.

An unbiased conclusion

Some people, such as British filmmakers, would look at the above with utter horror. They see it as a demonstration of Britain’s colonial status  – that somehow the foxes have been put in charge of the hen-coop. Others have gone further and described it as putting paedophiles in charge of the children’s home. At the same time many are loath to speak out as, without a large amount of seed money (grant/soft loan) from the UKFC their films will never get into production (still, if they’re not then acquired by the ‘majors’, virtually no one will see them anyway. They’ll lose money at home and make no impact abroad.)

But, if you see the UK film industry as a set of service industries (i.e. as not a film industry at all) which competes on the international market to attract inward investment from the (real) Film Industry, it makes perfect sense for this service industry to be controlled by its colonial masters and by those who share their vested interests.  On no account must anything be done that could jeopardise this inward investment.

However this is to argue for the continuation of a status quo which has negative implications for the country’s balance of payments. Us investment and US culture flows in and the profits flow out, and out, and out, and out.  We have been reduced to an utterly dependent state.

Amanda Walsh was previously Chief Executive of Lowe London.

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11 Responses to “Shocking Facts: Who’s who on the UK Film Council Board of Directors”

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