The Film Agency for Wales has completed a development programme for ten of Wales’ most aspiring production companies enabling better business support for the Welsh film production industry.
Developed by the Film Agency for Wales, Film Junction was designed to further develop production company strategies; improving viability and capacity for Welsh production companies.
‘Film Junction’ was been developed in conjunction with course leader Angus Finney who has extensive experience as a creative industry tutor with clients including the CASS Business School. Fomerly, Managing Director of the international sales agent, Renaissance; producer of the annual London Film Production Market and an industry journalist and author (The International Film Business (2010), The Egos Have Landed: the Rise and Fall of Palace Pictures (1997), Developing Feature Films in Europe: A practical Guide (1996), The State of European Cinema: A New Dose of Reality (1996)). He is currently completing a Phd at Cass Business School, City University, in film business strategy, and is a visiting lecturer, Judge Business School, Cambridge University. His fourth and most recent book is The International Film Business: A Market Guide Beyond Hollywood (Routledge).
The four-month Film Junction programme was funded by Skillset Academi+, providing bespoke company strategy and film financing, sales and distribution advice to ten production companies. The programme specifically focussed on creative management, business planning and reaching the audience, in addition to company specific consideration of strategies to improve cashflow and overcome impediments to furthering their film ambitions within their overall corporate strategy.
Participants had the support of a high level mentoring scheme with directors of international film and media companies including Andrea Calderwood of Slate Films (producer of The Last King of Scotland and I Am Slave); Robin Gutch of Warp Films (Hunger, Donkey Punch, Submarine), Paul Trijbits of Ruby Films (Tamara Drewe, Jane Eyre) and Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe of Element Pictures (Lassie, Garage and The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse).
Film Junction highlighted the critical role of the talent base that underpins the independent film industry, with participants exploring strategies to discover, nurture and maintain talent relations, particularly as between director and producer, as well as wider relations with acting talent that can unlock financing and sales/distribution opportunities. Central to the programme, was the development and exploitation of Intellectual Property by Welsh production companies.
Angus Finney comments: “The challenge when addressing Welsh film and programme producers is how to balance local issues and opportunities with national and international factors. Effective storytelling can sometimes achieve what power-point presentations and hard-nosed analysis cannot. Selecting relevant case study material and drilling into the narrative can serve a wider purpose.”
“A trainer can only achieve so much. A Cohort, meaning in our recent experience in Wales a group of around 12 different producers, is a tool that can become larger than the sum of its parts. By meeting at least three or four times over a six month period, the group has an opportunity to collaborate, share their experience and the time to absorb knowledge and grow effectively.”
Film producer and director John Giwa-Amu of Cardiff based Red and Black Films is already using his learning from Film Junction to identify and develop new revenue streams. He produced the feature film Little White Lies which received six BAFTA Cymru nominations and was listed in Variety’s Top 10 British Films of that Year. As a Director, John has also been nominated for the Screen Nation Award twice, has won a BAFTA Cymru award and the BBC New Filmmaker Award.
“Film Junction is proving to be an incredible opportunity – being able to learn from industry experts at the highest level means that I’m better prepared to manage our business,” explains John Giwa-Amu.
“Indeed, the complexities of closing film finance, understanding distribution channels and the developing new revenue streams to support cash flow have until now been a dark-art. What’s more, we now understand the need to diversify and are actively using our skills and experience to develop new revenue streams that fund the business while projects are in development. This has included launching a feature film course throughout the UK (Inside Edge) and the marketing of a Directors Masterclass. The support of Ed Guiny as my mentor, Angus and the Film Junction team is superb.”
John Giwa-Amu and business partner Caradog James have several projects in development including Money starring Luke Evans (Tamara Drewe, Immortals and Vivaldi) and two that are funded by the Film Agency for Wales (Cyrano, a modern adaptation of the French classic Cyrano De Bergerac and The Tunnel set on the border to Palestine).
Pauline Burt, Chief Executive of the Film Agency for Wales adds: “Film production in and of Wales is thriving but we must ensure adequate business support to ensure that the vital infrastructure of Welsh production companies are well placed to develop, exploit and benefit from film-based intellectual property. This in turn feeds a host of other distribution channels, including television, DVD, internet based distribution, soundtrack and the exploitation of ancillary markets, such as stageplays and radio. Film is a challenging environment, requiring careful and company specific thought on how best to provide capacity for the long lead in time for developing and sustaining talent relationships and individual projects, whilst ensuring there is sufficient turnover and opportunities for profit to maintain viability. There are several examples of UK companies that have thrived in this area, including Revolution, Blueprint, Sigma and Warp, and we want to ensure the best opportunities for Welsh companies to similarly excel.”
“As the Welsh Assembly Government has underlined in its Economic Renewal Programme, this sector has significant potential to bring a wide range of economic, social, cultural and educational benefits to Wales. We are therefore particularly interested in developing the commercial expertise and business acumen of film producers while additionally focusing on innovation, technology and a networked approach.”
Sue Jeffries of Skillset Academi+ adds: “Skillset Academi+ was set up to make the industry stronger and with a wider focus coming out of recession. Our intention also was to make the Welsh media industries capable of competing, not with each other, but within the wider context of the UK and Europe. Film Junction met these criteria like no other course that has been before in Wales. It exposes Welsh producers to industry mentors with a proven track record, and gives them a taste of how to run a film production company effectively. SA+ is proud to finance Film Junction, due to the breadth of its ambition, the quality of its mentors and training, and the strong leadership skills of Angus Finney, backed by Film Agency research and industry knowledge.”