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Wednesday, 25 March, 1998, 16:34 GMT
Action! New plans for British cinema
Flying the flag: Britain's film industry has been shown the way ahead
Ambitious plans to shake-up the British film industry have been announced after a long period of consultation.

More money, better distribution and improved marketing form the core of suggestions put together by the Film Review Group.

There are also plans to extend tax breaks for producers, and the suggestion of tightening up the definition by which a film can be called British.

The proposals are the sum of a year's consultation by the group, which includes some of the biggest behind-the-scenes names in British film, and members of the government.

Full Monty poster
Britain's The Full Monty took the world by storm
Recent box office triumphs such as The Full Monty and Bean have revitalised the once flagging business of movie making in the UK.

But the industry is seen as fragile and highly cyclical, and the Government is keen to see a better structure to make it more cohesive and efficient.

Announcing the review group's findings, Culture Secretary Chris Smith said: "Together we aim to provide the solid foundation that will allow creative talent to reach its full potential."

Tax breaks extended

Among the chief proposals is the re-definition of what makes a film British. Doing so should help attract producers to the UK to take advantage of the skilled labour force and financial benefits.

Tax breaks, introduced by the government last year, will be extended for a further two years, to 2002, the group announced.

The group, chaired by Films Minister Tom Clarke and Polygram executive Stewart Till, sets out an action plan for delivery by April 1999.

Other names on the panel include Four Weddings And A Funeral producer Duncan Kenworthy and Ridley Scott, who directed Alien and Blade Runner

Four Weddings
Four Weddings and a Funeral producer Duncan Kenworthy was on the review panel
Together they suggest an all-industry fund to boost the British market by supporting and promoting film, as well as seeking a bigger share of National Lottery money.

A further proposal is for a Film Marketing Agency to advise the industry on maximising the profile of film and cinema.

Britain has a strong reputation for a skilled workforce in the industry. This could be maintained by a Skill Investment Fund with voluntary contributions from the industry, the group said.

Biggest review for 30 years

Other proposals include the setting up of an international sales market in London, together with a UK film office in Los Angeles to draw more productions into the country.

The Films Minister called the report the biggest review of the British film industry for 30 years.

"It is not a quick fix. Rather a logical series of interlocking proposals which will, in time, create a more robust and competitive industry to the benefit of British Audiences and the British economy," Mr Clarke said.

Film makers in the UK have already witnessed the renewed faith in their craft, receiving 92m National Lottery grant and a 43m Arts Council award.

The money was split between three film consortia and is expected to yield around 90 new movies over five years.

See also:

29 Nov 97 | Business
12 Mar 98 | UK
24 Mar 98 | Oscars
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