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Hoot Comedy execs launch UK production outfit Bad Owl Films

1 hour ago

Exclusive: Company reveals debut slate of comedy, horror projects.

Fledgling UK production outfit Bad Owl Films has launched its debut slate, including two features made with India’s Cinestaan.

Ben Bond [pictured], whose credits include Killing Bono as a writer and the upcoming The Hungry as executive producer, will head up the company as creative director, alongside producer Iona Sweeney.

Former Screen Star of Tomorrow Andy Brunskill will provide consulting services.

Bond is the co-founder of commercials and TV production outfit Hoot Comedy, where Sweeney is head of broadcast. Going forward, they will continue in their positions at both companies.

Their new outfit Bad Owl Films will aim to produce between one and two feature films a year, focused on comedy and horror, with budgets in the £1-15m range.

Films on the company’s initial slate include: The Hungry, made in collaboration with Film London and Cinestaan, which is a retelling of Shakespeare’s tragedy Titus Andronicus and stars »

- tom.grater@screendaily.com (Tom Grater)

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Fox takeover of Sky stalls

3 hours ago

Culutre secretary Karen Bradley refers bid to competition authorities.

Fox’s planned £12bn takeover of Sky has been dealt a blow after culture secretary Karen Bradley referred the deal to UK competition authorities.

As a result of her decision, the Hollywood studio’s acquisition of the pay-tv operator – buying the 61% that it does not currently own – will be delayed by at least six months.

Bradley, who revealed the move in the House of Commons today (29 June), has referred the bid to the Competition and Markets Authority due to concerns over media plurality issues.

She said that she had reached her decision after receiving a report from regulator Ofcom.

In its report, released today, Ofcom said that the transaction raised “public interest concerns as a result of the risk of increased influence by members of the Murdoch Family Trust over the UK news agenda and the political process”.

Bradley added: “The proposed entity would have the third largest »

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Halle Berry says her historic Oscar win 'meant nothing'

3 hours ago

The lack of progress with diversity in Hollywood is “troubling”, said the actress.

Halle Berry has said her historic Oscar win for Monster’s Ball “meant nothing”.

Berry became the first (and still only) black woman to win the best actress category at the 2002 Academy Awards, and her acceptance speech referenced its importance.

She said: “This moment is so much bigger than me. This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It’s for the women that stand beside me, Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox. And it’s for every nameless, faceless woman of colour that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.”

However, whilst taking part in a Q&A in Cannes Lions with Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Elaine Welteroth, she said the 2016 Oscar nominations which sparked the #OscarsSoWhite backlash made her revise her opinion of the win.

“It was probably one of my lowest professional moments… I sat there »

- orlando.parfitt@screendaily.com (Orlando Parfitt)

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Olivier Assayas to preside over Locarno jury

4 hours ago

Yousry Nasrallah, Sabine Azéma also set for festival jury duty.

Personal Shopper director Olivier Assayas will preside over this year’s International Competition jury at the Locarno Film Festival.

Assayas’s 2014 feature Clouds Of Sils Maria, which saw star Kristen Stewart become the first Us actress to win a Cesar Award in France, played in Locarno after its Cannes premiere. His most recent credit is as a screenwriter on Roman Polanski’s Based On A True Story, which premiered Out Of Competition at this year’s Cannes.

Locarno’s Filmmakers of the Present jury will be overseen by Yousry Nasrallah, who has been nominated for the festival’s Golden Leopard on three occasions, for Mercedes in 1993, El Medina in 1999, and for Brooks, Meadows And Lovely Faces in 2016.

The president of the Pardi di domani Competition jury will be French actress Sabine Azéma, whose has won two Best Actress Cesar Awards, for A Sunday »

- tom.grater@screendaily.com (Tom Grater)

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Sundance Institute Mediterranean workshop participants revealed

5 hours ago

Exclusive: Second edition of event hosted with Greece’s Faliro House will support filmmakers from the region.

The participants for the second edition of the Faliro House Sundance Institute Mediterranean Screenwriters Workshop have been revealed.

The workshop, a collaboration between the Sundance Institute and Christos V Konstantakopoulos’ Greek production company Faliro House, supports emerging filmmakers from Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Cyprus (last year’s event is pictured above).

The five-day workshop, held in Costa Navarino, Greece from July 3-9, gives eight filmmakers the chance to work on their feature film scripts with advisors.

The advisors include filmmaker Gyula Gazdag, artistic director for the Sundance Institute in the Us, Lisa Cholodenko (Olive Kitteridge, The Kids Are Alright), Julie Delpy (Before Midnight, 2 Days In Paris), Jeff Nichols (Loving, Take Shelter), recent Palme d’Or winner Ruben Östlund (The Square, Force Majeure), Ira Sachs (Little Men, Love Is Strange), Zach Sklar (JFK), Eva Stefani (Bathers, Acropolis) and Athina Rachel Tsangari »

- orlando.parfitt@screendaily.com (Orlando Parfitt)

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'Breathe' to open London Film Festival

6 hours ago

Andy Serkis’s directorial debut is one of STXinternational’s first UK releases.

The 61st BFI London Film Festival (Lff) will open with Andy Serkis’s feature directorial debut Breathe on October 4.

Starring Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy, the film tells the story of an adventurous young man who is struck by Polio in his late 20s. Paralysed and only able to breathe with the help of a machine, he defies his doctors, who give him months to live, by travelling the world.

Supporting cast include Hugh Bonneville, Tom Hollander, Stephen Mangan and Diana Rigg. Jonathan Cavendish produced for The Imaginarium Studios, with financing from Silver Reel, BBC Films and the BFI. Embankment handle sales.

The film is receiving its European premiere at Lff.

Clare Stewart, director of the festival, commented: “We are proud to be opening the 61st BFI London Film Festival with a film that is a beacon for remarkable British talent: the directorial debut of »

- tom.grater@screendaily.com (Tom Grater)

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Organic PR agency opens Manchester office

6 hours ago

Account manager Chris Boyd will lead Organic’s northern business.

London-based film and TV publicity and marketing agency Organic has opened a new office in Manchester.

“Organic North”, based in the Havas Village on Princess Street, will work with the London office to service Organic’s existing clients to provide on-the-ground services in Manchester and the surrounding area.

The agency will also work with new clients based outside of London, covering UK and regional publicity campaigns, junkets, festivals, media management, unit publicity and social media management.

Account manager Chris Boyd will lead Organic’s northern business and travel between Manchester and London.

Organic North will sit alongside sister agency Target Live - a full service agency for the Arts and live events - which also opened an office in Manchester earlier this year.

Caragh Cook, managing director of Organic, said: “Having a home in Manchester means we can provide a communications hub for the North, situated in the »

- orlando.parfitt@screendaily.com (Orlando Parfitt)

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Jodie Comer joins BBC America’s 'Killing Eve'

16 hours ago

Comer joins previously announced Sandra Oh in female-led drama set to debut in 2018.

BBC America announced on Wednesday that Jodie Comer has been cast in a lead role opposite Sandra Oh in Killing Eve

The eight-episode drama is based on novellas by Luke Jennings and centres on Eve (Oh), a security services operative and Villanelle (Comer), an elegant and talented killer. The spy action thriller follows the two women as they go head-to-head in a game of cat-and-mouse. 

The series produced by Sid Gentle Films comes from Phoebe Waller-Bridge, creator of BBC UK and Amazon’s Fleabag, who will serve as showrunner and executive producer.

Sally Woodward Gentle and Lee Morris will also serve as executive producers on the original series.

Comer’s credits include The White Princess, the recent adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, drama series Doctor Foster, and BBC America miniseries Thirteen, for which she was nominated for a best leading actress BAFTA award. Comer »

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Apple Music acquires 'Bang! The Bert Berns Story'

17 hours ago

Platform makes another notable buy after Tribeca opener Clive Davis in April.

Abramorama and filmmakers Brett and Cassandra Berns announced on Wednesday that Apple Music has acquired Bang! The Bert Berns Story.

The film centres on the life and career of 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Bert Berns – songwriter, producer and label chief of the 1960’s whose hits included Twist And Shout, Hang On Sloopy, Brown Eyed Girl, Here Comes The Night, and Piece Of My Heart.

Stevie Van Zandt narrates the film that features interviews with Van Morrison, Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Ben E King, and Solomon Burke, among others.   

Apple Music plans an autumn global release, followed by a release on iTunes Movies to rent or download. Abramorama originally released the film theatrically in North America in April.  

Sid Ganis served as executive producer on the film directed by Bert Berns’ son Brett Berns and co-directed by Bob Sarles, who also edited »

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BFI launches £20m plan to tackle UK skills shortage

20 hours ago

Industry heavyweights back 10-point initiative to boost UK crews.

This evening (June 28), the British Film Institute (BFI) launched the Film Skills Strategy plan, an ambitious new programme with a 10-point plan to tackle skill shortages in the industry.

The BFI will invest £20m of lottery funding over five years into the scheme. It is anticipated this investment will leverage match funding from the industry’s own Skills Investment Fund to fund the action plan.

The programme also aims to address the still chronic lack of representation and inclusion in the workforce at a time when UK film is worth an estimated £4.3bn to the British economy and inward investment is continuing to rise.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley, James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli, BFI chair Josh Berger and BFI CEO Amanda Nevill were at the House of Commons for the launch of Future Film Skills - An Action Plan. 

A new BFI-commissioned report revealed significant opportunities for the »

- geoffrey@macnab.demon.co.uk (Geoffrey Macnab)

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BFI launches £20m plan to tackle UK skills shortage, workforce diversity

20 hours ago

Industry heavyweights back 10-point initiative to boost UK crews.

This evening (June 28), the British Film Institute (BFI) launched the Film Skills Strategy plan, an ambitious new programme with a 10-point plan to tackle skill shortages in the industry.

The scheme will cost £20m of lottery funding over five years.

The programme also aims to address the still chronic lack of representation and inclusion in the workforce at a time when UK film is worth an estimated £4.3bn to the British economy and inward investment is continuing to rise.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley, James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli, BFI chair Josh Berger and BFI CEO Amanda Nevill were at the House of Commons for the launch of Future Film Skills - An Action Plan. 

A new BFI-commissioned report revealed significant opportunities for the film workforce with an estimated 30,000 job opportunities likely to be available over the next five years.

Despite all this activity, however, problems »

- geoffrey@macnab.demon.co.uk (Geoffrey Macnab)

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Smith Global Media acquires 'Gnome Alone', 'Charming'

21 hours ago

Wide theatrical releases planned for 3Qu Media family films.

Smith Global Media, the theatrical distribution company run by Will Smith’s brother Harry Smith, has added the animated family features Gnome Alone and Charming to its slate.

3Qu Media financed and produced both films in association with Sc Films International and Smith Global Media plans wide theatrical releases for both.

Shrek producer John H. Williams produced both films and 3Qu Media’s Henry Skelsey, Jon Christianson and Jeremy Ross served as executive producers. Production took place at Cinesite’s Montreal studio.

Charming is scheduled for a wide theatrical release in the second quarter of 2018 and features a voice cast of Demi Lovato, Wilmer Valderrama, Ashley Tisdale, recording artists Sia and Avril Lavigne, Nia Vardalos, John Cleese, and singer-songwriter G.E.M.

Ross Venokur wrote and directed the story of Prince Felipe Charming, who was cursed at birth to break hearts and sets out with a strong-willed thief to find »

- jeremykay67@gmail.com (Jeremy Kay)

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Saban Films executive duo on the rise

23 hours ago

President Bill Bromiley announces two key promotions.

Jonathan Saba and Ness Saban have been promoted at Saban Films.

Saba (pictured at centre) is named senior vice-president of distribution, sales and marketing, while Saban (pictured at right) becomes vice-president of business development.

Saba previously served as vice-president of sales, marketing and distribution since the company’s launch in May 2014.

He has supervised release strategy and marketing campaigns for the entire slate, including Rob Zombie’s 31. Prior to Saban Films, Saba held executive positions in acquisitions, distribution and marketing at Anchor Bay Films, Image Entertainment, Criterion Collection, and Rilean Pictures.

Saban began his career at Los Angeles-based Saban Films, where he has served as director of business development, spearheading the acquisition of close to 50 films in less than three years including Tommy Lee JonesThe Homesman, and the upcoming 24 Hours To Live with Ethan Hawke and Small Town Crime with John Hawkes.

“Both Jonathan »

- jeremykay67@gmail.com (Jeremy Kay)

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Olivia Cooke to star in 'Vanity Fair' adaptation for ITV, Amazon

28 June 2017 7:12 AM, PDT

Mammoth Screen to produce seven-part series.

ITV has tied with Amazon for the first time – commissioning a seven-part adaptation of William Thackeray’s Vanity Fair.

Mammoth Screen, the company behind ITV’s Victoria, and Amazon Studios will co-produce the 7x60-minute drama which is set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars and will star Olivia Cooke will star as the social climbing heroine Becky Sharp.

Thackeray’s novel, which was published as a serialisation from 1848, is to be adapted by Gwyneth Hughes.

Mammoth Screen managing director Damien Timmer will executive produce the series alongside Hughes, James Strong and Tom Mullens.

Vanity Fair was ordered by head of drama Polly Hill, who told Screen’s sister publication Broadcast earlier this month that she was open to signing more international co-production deals.

“We want to be in the market for those bigger, global facing dramas because the audience has become an international one,” she said. “What »

- tom.grater@screendaily.com (Tom Grater)

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'The Beguiled', 'Good Time' set for Jerusalem international competition

28 June 2017 5:59 AM, PDT

Festival selects 12 titles for second edition of competitive strand.

Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled, the Safdie Brothers’ Good Time, and François Ozon’s Amant Double (The Double Lover) all of which played in competition at Cannes, have been selected for this year’s international competition at the Jerusalem Film Festival (July 13-17).

Returning for a second time after launching in 2016, the festival’s international competition has picked a total of 12 titles and will again award a prize of $20,000 to the winning film.

Joining the aforementioned are: Hong Sang-soo’s On The Beach At Night Alone, Cãlin Peter Netzer’s Ana, Mon Amour, Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Groß’s My Happy Family, Ferenc Török’s 1945, Valeska Grisebach’s Western, Fellipe Barbosa’s Gabriel And The Mountain, Mohammad Rasoulof’s A Man Of Integrity, Stéphane Brizé’s A Woman’s Life, and Lav Diaz’s The Woman Who Left.

As previously announced, the festival »

- tom.grater@screendaily.com (Tom Grater)

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Luc Besson's EuropaCorp posts record loss

28 June 2017 5:10 AM, PDT

Poor box office performance of English-language slate, including Miss Sloane and The Circle, to blame.

Luc Besson’s mini-major EuropaCorp has posted a company record losses of $136m (€119.9m) for the 2016-17 financial year.

In a statement released in Paris on Wednesday morning (July 28), the company said consolidated revenue rose 3% to $171m (€151.7m) but net operating cash flows had fallen dramatically to $2.7m (€2.4m) for 2016-17, down from $92m (€81m) in the previous financial year.

The slight increase in consolidated revenue had been driven by foreign sales and an increase in Svod and TV sales to the Us, EuropaCorp said.

EuropaCorp had already officially announced in February that the company would post losses in 2016-17 that were “substantially higher” than losses in previous financial years. The company did not give further details but local media and entertainment analysts suggested a figure of around €35m ($39m).

The company said the losses were due mainly to the poor box »

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Abi Morgan's female lawyer series 'The Split' casts up

28 June 2017 4:58 AM, PDT

BBC One, Sundance TV series heading into production.

Abi Morgan’s BBC One and Sundance TV drama The Split has cast up ahead of production, which kicks off in London next week.

Nicola Walker [pictured centre] (Four Weddings And A Funeral) will lead the six-part drama, alongside Meera Syal (Goodness Gracious Me), Stephen Mangan [pictured right] (Episodes), Fiona Button (Lip Service), Deborah Findlay (Leaving), Annabel Scholey (Being Human), Barry Atsma (Hector And The Search For Happiness) and Stephen Tompkinson (Dci Banks).   

Written by Morgan [pictured left], whose credits include Shame, The Iron Lady and The Hour, the series counts Jane Featherstone as an executive producer under her new banner Sister Pictures.

Broadchurch director Jessica Hobbs is directing, with Black Mirror’s Lucy Dyke producing.

The series is an exploration of modern marriage and the legacy of divorce told through the lens of the Defoes, a family of female lawyers working in London’s divorce circuit.

It was commissioned by Piers Wenger, controller of BBC »

- tom.grater@screendaily.com (Tom Grater)

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Christoffer Boe shooting Danish crime series 'Warrior' with Dar Salim

28 June 2017 4:31 AM, PDT

Other projects backed by June round of Nordisk Film & TV Fond include Liberty created by Asger Leth.

Danish director Christoffer Boe is lining up a hot cast for his new Danish crime TV series Warrior.

Dar Salim (A War, Game of Thrones, pictured) will play a former soldier and Danica Curcic plays the policewoman he loves, with the ensemble also including Lars Ranthe, Nicolas Bro, Søren Malling, Jacob Oftebro and Natalie Madueño.

Peter Bose and Jonas Allen of Miso Film produce the 6x48’ series, which Boe co-wrote with Simon Paternak. The project just received $356,000 (Nok 3m) in funding in the latest round from the Nordisk Film & TV Fond.

It is produced for Denmark’s TV2 with further funding from the Danish Film Institute. Shooting now, it will be delivered in autumn 2018 with FremantleMedia International handles sales.

It is described as “a modern-day character-driven crime drama about strong human bonds, loyalty and treachery among army veterans, gang members »

- wendy.mitchell@screendaily.com (Wendy Mitchell)

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Film London awarded £1.3m for artists scheme

28 June 2017 3:17 AM, PDT

Flamin initiative, including Jarman award, will continue for the next four years.

Film London has been awarded £1.3m in funding for its work with artist filmmakers as part of Arts Council England’s 2018-22 National Portfolio.

The funding ensures that Flamin (Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network) will continue for the next four years.

Flamin programmes include Flamin Productions, Film London’s commissioning scheme for mid-career artists, and the Film London Jarman Award, which recognises UK-based artists working with the moving image.

The funding will also allow Flamin to develop new award schemes, training, touring programmes and partnerships.

Flamin Productions has backed films by Ben Rivers (Two Years at Sea), Elizabeth Price (West Hinder), Sebastian Buerkner (The Chimera of M.), Sarah Turner (Public House) and Mark Leckey (Dream English Kid 1964-1999Ad).

Adrian Wootton, chief executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that our Arts Council England funding has been »

- orlando.parfitt@screendaily.com (Orlando Parfitt)

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Nfts selects participants for diversity-focused directors workshop

28 June 2017 3:10 AM, PDT

Six selected for second edition of free scheme.

The National Film and Television School (Nfts) has unveiled the participants for the second edition of its diversity-focused directing workshop.

The scheme, which is free for participants, is aiming to increase the number of women, people from Bame backgrounds and those with disabilities working professionally in screen directing.

Selected for the second edition are: Bim Ajadi, Morgan Bailey, Ella Bennett, Laura Degnan, Sophie King, Savanah Leaf.

Led by theatre director Alby James, the pilot edition of the scheme kicked off in March with a two-day introductory session, followed by two months of script development for short films projects and an intensive two-week directing skill workshop.

The initial participants will shoot their short films in the summer and the completed works will be showcased later this year. They also automatically receive an interview for the Nfts’ Directing Fiction Ma.

The news was unveiled at the annual Nfts fundraising gala in »

- tom.grater@screendaily.com (Tom Grater)

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