Film success launches new fund to support Kent production

Jenny Cooper, Film Commissioner Screen South, Alex King Kent County Council, Peter Gilroy, Chief Executive Kent County Council, Brenda Blethyn, Jo Nolan CEO Screen South, Elaine Wickham Producer of The Calling, Jan Dunn Writer and Director of The Calling

Jenny Cooper, Film Commissioner Screen South, Alex King Kent County Council, Peter Gilroy, Chief Executive Kent County Council, Brenda Blethyn, Jo Nolan CEO Screen South, Elaine Wickham Producer of The Calling, Jan Dunn Writer and Director of The Calling

Kent County Council becomes the first local authority to provide a fund for Film and TV production

A pioneering new fund for film and TV production in Kent has been launched after Kent-made feature film ‘The Calling’,starring Brenda Blethyn,generated more than £500,000 for the county’s economy and received prestigious recognition at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Kent County Council has become the first local authority to provide a fund specifically for film and TV production.  The new Kent Development Fund will provide £200,000 a year to support production in a range of ways from funding script development to investing in both Kent-based and external production companies who want to come and film in the county.

It will be used to attract additional funding from Europe, regional development agencies and private investors, with the aim of increasing spend into the Kent economy and promoting the county as a prime location for film and TV projects.

The fund was created after a successful pilot project between production company Maeve (Medb) Films, based in Ramsgate, and Kent County Council’s Kent Film Office.

Kent County Council provided £75,000 of funding for The Calling and also worked to secure match funding. This initial investment attracted other investors to the project including Screen South, Courtyard Studios, Maidstone Studios and The Hop Farm, which resulted in more than £500,000 of spend into the Kent economy before ‘The Calling’ was even screened. The investment also secured jobs for eight trainees from Kent on the production.

It showed that directly supporting film production in the county could bring significant economic benefits including the creation of training and job opportunities in one of the few remaining growth industries in the UK.

Kent County Council is making financial support available for future projects because the south of England is one of just two areas in the UK that does not already have a film production fund.  The support is needed to keep Kent competitive against other locations in the UK.

The announcement of the fund came at the Edinburgh International Film Festival where the star-studded film was nominated for the prestigious Michael Powell Award for the Best British New Feature.

The film’s high profile cast includes Ramsgate-born and BAFTA award-winning actress Brenda Blethyn OBE, Golden Globe winners Rita Tushingham and Amanda Donohoe and Academy Award nominated Susannah York.

Alex King from Kent County Council said:

‘The success we’ve had with supporting the production of just one film is a very clear indicator of the tremendous results we can achieve by supporting more films in future.

‘This fund is fantastic news for the film industry, for Kent’s economy and for Kent residents.  We’re extremely proud to be taking another innovative approach to supporting our county.’

Jo Nolan, Screen South Chief Executive Officer added:

‘It’s wonderful to see the importance of the film industry being recognised in this way.  Screen South knows that Kent has so much to offer film makers and this fund is a crucial step towards encouraging and supporting local talent.’

Media businessman, Lord Waheed Alli, said:

‘Apart from adding immense cultural value, the creative industries are currently one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK economy. The Kent Development fund seeks to support and develop creative talent in the UK, which shows great foresight by supporting a major cornerstone of the UK economy.”

Viscount De L’Isle Kent Ambassador and owner of Penshurst Place said:

“The film industry has a significant impact on tourism in Kent, as was clearly demonstrated by the Other Boleyn Girl campaign, where we worked together with the Kent Film Office, Visit Kent, National Trust and English Heritage and the other Kent film locations to maximise the marketing opportunities the film brought.

‘This resulted in increased profile for Penshurst, which is not only fantastic for the Kent economy as a whole but also because tourism spend plays a significant part in preserving our heritage.”

Kent Film Office already works to promote Kent as a filming location.  It has generated £13 million of income for Kent in the three years since it was set up and works in partnership with Screen South to support the film industry in the county.

The Calling will be shown at the 2009 Swale Film Festival at 19:50 on the 11th July.