– . – UK Government Accuses UKFC Of Scaremongering
UK Government Accuses UKFC Of Scaremongering
In the wake of activity following the July 26th announcement that the government was to axe the UK Film Council, there has been a great deal of vocal support for the UKFC. But now the Department of Media, Culture and Sport (DMCS) has accused the body of campaigning against the government to try and save itself.
In a letter part-published in the Independent, Minister of Culture Ed Vaizey told UKFC chief John Woodward that he was “concerned” about the UKFC’s tactics, saying that he believed the body was scaremongering the industry at large into thinking that investment in British films would be irrevocably damaged with the abolition of the Film Council.
“It looks as though the Film Council have been overzealously briefing in order to protect their interests,” continues Vaizey’s letter. “As a result, they may be damaging the film industry that they purport to represent. This is completely wrong and I will be seeking urgent reassurances that the Film Council will promote the interests of the film industry rather than its own from now on.”
Vaizey’s letter was most likely prompted by growing rumours that a major American production, which was due to film in Britain, has decided to shoot elsewhere following the announcement. This follows the reports that the fourth Underworld movie, previously scheduled to shoot in the UK, will now be made in Vancouver.
In addition to Vaizey’s letter, a DCMS spokesman told Variety that it has “heard things in the industry that the UKFC was suggesting projects were falling through when that’s simply not the case. We’ve asked them to come in and answer questions on this matter as it’s obviously hugely damaging to the film industry. The UKFC is there to promote the industry and not to promote its own interests. They should be seeking to reassure the film industry here as the tax credit and lottery funding are still solid. And if they are scaremongering, then it needs to stop now.”
The DCMS source also revealed that it had spoken to the makers of Underworld 4, who confirmed that the move to Canada had “absolutely nothing to do with the abolition of the Film Council.”
In response, a representative for the UKFC said that the future of the UK film industry was “the only thing the UK Film Council is interested in. We will continue to do everything we can to reassure people that any change to us will not affect the U.K.’s film offer to the world. Understandably, however, there has been enormous concern about the future of the British film industry since the government decided to abolish its film agency. In the past three weeks, the UKFC has been contacted by hundreds of organizations and individuals seeking assurances and expressing their concerns about the future and other related matters.”