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Last Updated: Monday, 9 May, 2005, 21:52 GMT 22:52 UK
Producer says UK film in 'crisis'
I Heart Huckabees
Kuhn produced the quirky 2004 comedy I Heart Huckabees
One of the UK's most respected movie producers says the country's film industry is in crisis and faces the "bleakest prospect" since the 1980s.

Michael Kuhn, whose films include I Heart Huckabees and Kinsey, says UK film funding needs radical change.

The producer was addressing members of the independent film sector at the Pact Film Lecture in London.

Mr Kuhn put forward a raft of proposals and called on the government and the UK Film Council to deliver results.

He said that many of the established routes for getting funding were disappearing or were dependent on tax regimes, leaving less available equity for film-makers.

"So the hour is dark. Darker I think than most years in my lifetime," said Mr Kuhn.

'Lack of ambition'

Kuhn was previously president of Polygram Filmed Entertainment, which invested heavily in British cinema including Four Weddings and a Funeral and Bean.

I want to set out an agenda for change and improvement for the immediate future
Michael Kuhn

He believes there has been a "lack of ambition" in the UK industry, as well as a lack of capital and distribution over the years.

In his speech to fellow film-makers, he maintained that there should be someone to act as a champion for the UK film industry, to work through the bureaucracy and in conjunction with the government.

He said while the UK Film Council would be the natural choice to champion the cause of British film-makers, he had been surprised to hear it had blamed the "mess" the industry is in on the lack of talent to be found in the country.

He suggested that it was held back in its role because it was in need of reform itself.

In setting out his vision for the future, Mr Kuhn said that many other nations film industries were granted tax breaks of up to 15%, with the state and TV supporting film production.

He called on the BBC and other broadcasters to invest more public money in film-making, saying the industry supplied it with a great deal of talent but got little in return.

Central fund

One of the biggest changes in recent years has been the government's announcement that Section 48 of the Finance Act is to be scrapped in July, preventing wealthy individuals from offsetting their film investments against tax.

Kuhn said that although Section 48 had been exploited as a tax loophole in the past, abuses of it had now largely been stopped and the rule should be allowed to continue.

Chancellor Gordon Brown recently announced draft legislation for new tax relief that would fund 20% of production costs for low and big budget films, although this will not become effective until April 2006.

In the long term, Mr Kuhn said he would like to see a central fund exist for marketing British films to bring them to public attention.

He also called for the way box office ticket prices are divided to be changed, so producers receive a fair cut and are not the last in the chain to see a return.

The UK Film Council declined to comment at the time of writing.

UK film industry focuses on future
12 Aug 04 |  Business

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