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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 September, 2003, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
Fry reveals film-making stress
Stephen Fry
Fry said getting funding secured was difficult
Actor and director Stephen Fry has revealed that his latest film, Bright Young Things, nearly had to be abandoned after the collapse of Film Four.

The movie, which had its Royal première on Sunday evening, is his first effort as a director and is based on Evelyn Waugh's novel Vile Bodies.

Set in the 1930s, it focuses on a bunch of wealthy, hedonistic, ultimately self destructive 20-somethings as they party their way through London society.

Fry, 46, said that just two days after "glamour and excitement" of the film being announced at Cannes film festival in 2002, Channel Four dissolved Film Four, which had been backing the project.

Channel 4 closed down Film Four's distribution and international sales arms in 2002, in order to make budget cuts.

"I was worried people would think the film was a bad project because of that - but luckily The Film Consortium came to our rescue very quickly," said Fry.

The Film Consortium channels lottery money into British film projects, and has contributed to movies including Hideous Kinky, starring Kate Winslet, and the less successful Janice Beard 45wpm, which starred Patsy Kensit.

Prince Charles meets Michael Sheen (left), Stephen Campbell Moore and Stephen Fry

However The Sunday Telegraph, which published extracts from Fry's diaries during September and October 2002, said the star accused the consortium of acting as a "pimp" for US financiers.

Describing 16 October 2002 as "one of the worst days of my life", he wrote: "These salaried... people (I use the word under duress) who are an official British film body are suggesting that we go to an American film shark to get our film made. A film they will get credit for.

"What risk do they take?... That's how the British film industry, government funded is moving briskly into the 21st Century, by acting as pimp for an American loan shark."

However Fry prefaced his diary entries in the newspaper by writing that they were written "in the white heat of an anger I now find difficult to justify".

The Film Consortium was unavailable for comment.

Bright Young Things
Stephen Campbell Moore and Emily Mortimer are among the stars
Fry's comments follow those of actor Ewan McGregor in Cannes this year, when he slated the Film Council, saying it had refused extra funding for his latest film, Young Adam.

Fry added that despite the difficulties in making the film, he had enjoyed his involvement in it.

"I didn't really choose it, it chose me," he said. "I was asked to write the screenplay and thought I could bring something to it.

"I think it was the delight of finding a period film which had pace and energy rather than the more usual languid elegant costume dramas."

The film sees newcomers Fenella Woolgar and Stephen Campbell Moore starring alongside more established names, including Emily Mortimer (Young Adam), Dan Aykroyd and Stockard Channing.

'Fulfilling'

Fry also found room to squeeze in an appearance from his friend, the legendary British actor Sir John Mills.

"When I told him about the film, he asked if there was a part for him. I was absolutely delighted to have such champagne casting," he said.

Fry, better-known for his appearances in front of the camera, including such TV shows as A Bit Of Fry And Laurie and Blackadder, added that directing is one of the most fulfilling things he has ever done.

"It's combined the writing with a strange sort of performing in a sense," he said.

"If this film makes only a penny profit I'd love to direct again - of course if it doesn't I'll be too ashamed to."




SEE ALSO:
Fry's splendid Bright Young Things
28 Sep 03  |  Entertainment
Fry to direct his first feature film
17 May 02  |  Entertainment
Fry honoured for pipe smoking
27 Feb 03  |  England
Fry boycotts 'pathetic' quiz
16 Apr 03  |  Entertainment
In pictures: Bright Young Things
28 Sep 03  |  In Pictures


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