BBC Films and Film London today announced they will extend their partnership on the successful micro-budget feature film-making scheme, Film London Microwave. The groundbreaking training through production scheme, responsible for the BAFTA-nominated Shifty, now has the funding to make three more feature films, giving further opportunities to emerging film-makers. This will bring the total slate to 13 films and the scheme will run for another three years from 2011.
Two new features have been greenlit from the last round of over 80 applications. Ill Manors is written and directed by critically acclaimed musician and actor Ben Drew – aka Plan B – whose new album entered the UK charts at Number One and will be produced by Atif Ghani. Also greenlit is Borrowed Time from writer/director Jules Bishop and producer Olivier Kaempfer, graduates of London Film School. Both projects will receive up to £60,000 cash funding from Microwave and are currently securing the additional finance.
Unique in its approach to film-making, Microwave – which also receives support from Skillset – has an integrated training programme which sees film-makers benefiting from crucial guidance and mentoring throughout the film-making process. With its innovative set-up focussing on training and development, Microwave has enjoyed excellent results and the scheme’s three completed features Mum & Dad, Shifty and Freestyle, have achieved UK theatrical releases and sold well in other territories. Microwave acts as a launch pad for film-makers’ careers and Eran Creevy, writer/direct of Shifty, has secured funding for his next feature, Welcome to the Punch.
The limitations of the Microwave budget demand more creativity from the production team as micro-budget film-makers, by definition, need to be more inventive in order to make a film with production values fit for a commercial audience. The scheme's fourth film, British Guide to Showing Off is currently in post production, while Strawberry Fields is currently shooting and Foxglove will shoot later this year.
Adrian Wootton, Chief Executive of Film London said: "The great strength of Microwave is that allows us to find and support, fantastic new creative talent that can flourish under the Microwave banner; while we as funders get the absolute best value for public investment, putting in modest but critical funding to make these films. Microwave isn’t just about providing production funding, it is the training, mentoring and guidance which make it so much more. Microwave offers these new talented film-makers the right tools to make a feature film and while it may be on a limited budget, we aim to ensure every Microwave film has the potential to reach audiences and be commercially successful."
Steve Jenkins, Head of Films for BBC Acquisitions said: “With the terrific results achieved by the film-makers so far, across a variety of genres, and the strength of the projects in the pipeline, the BBC is delighted to be involved in extending the Microwave slate. Micro-budget schemes like this provide both an exciting opportunity and a great structure for developing new voices and talent.”
Pete Travis, director of Vantage Point and Ben Drew’s mentor said: “Microwave is an excellent scheme that is contributing some great new voices to UK cinema; I wish it was around when I started. It is attracting some exciting talent (like Ben Drew who I’ve mentored for Ill Manors) and that’s the key benefit and special ingredient.”
Rory Aitken, producer of Microwave film Shifty said: “Microwave was a fantastic opportunity for us to make our first feature film – with excellent mentors and support available when we needed it. Shifty’s success opened many doors for us in the industry, and the experience has equipped us well for our next steps.”
Maggie Ellis, Film London’s Head of Production &Talent Development said: “Microwave’s success can be seen in the films it has produced, the careers it has kick-started and the many micro-budget film-making schemes it has inspired. This is something I am extremely proud of and is a tribute to the hard work and talent of the team especially Creative Executive, Mia Bays and Physical Production and Business Affairs Consultant, Mike Kelly.”
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Notes to Editors
Film London Microwave
Launched in 2006, Microwave is a groundbreaking scheme set up by Film London with BBC Films, with extensive support from Skillset. It challenges London-based film-makers to shoot a feature film for up to £100,000 with cash and in-kind support. Microwave provides an intensive approach to film-making with the emphasis on original ideas, tightly focussed scripts and short production schedules. The film-makers are supported by extensive training and mentoring from the initial conception of the project all the way through to its release.
New greenlit Microwave features:
Produced by Atif Ghani and written and directed by Ben Drew, Ill Manors is set in Drew’s home town of Forest Gate, East London. A multi-character music led story, the film follows intriguing and complex characters offering an ultra-realistic gritty picture of the world which is on the brink of self-destruction.
A bittersweet comedy about growing up and rediscovering youth, Borrowed Time tells the story of two totally contrasting figures who come together in the most hostile of circumstances, only to form an unlikely bond that could help them out of their respective troubles.
Mum & Dad (2008) Directed & written by Steven Sheil. Released Boxing Day 2008 in the UK and Mother’s Day 2009 in North America courtesy of Revolver Entertainment
Shifty (2008) Directed & written by Eran Creevy. Released on 24 April 2009 in the UK courtesy of Metrodome Distribution. Shifty received a BAFTA nomination for outstanding debut in 2010 and 5 BIFA nominations in 2008
Freestyle (2009) Directed by Kolton Lee. A teen romance based around the world of freestyle basketball. Released in the UK by Revolver on 26 February 2010
In post production:
The British Guide to Showing Off, director Jes Benstock. Alternative Miss World documentary
Features in production in 2010:
Strawberry Fields, directed by Frances Lea. An intense rites of passage film bursting with energy, sex and humour set during a perfect English summer. It stars Anna Madeley, Emun Elliott and Christine Bottomley
Foxglove, directed by Ornette Spenceley, a psychological drama set on the outskirts of London
Microwave Online is a dedicated Microwave website which gives practical advice on all aspects of micro-budget film-making www.filmlondon.org.uk/microwave
Mia Bays, Creative Executive
Mia Bays celebrates 20 years in film in 2011 and has worked on over 50 features in various marketing, sales or production capacities. She has produced an Oscar®-winning film (Six Shooter by Martin McDonagh) and been nominated twice for a BAFTA, most recently in 2008 for producing Scott Walker 30 Century Man.
Mia has worked on films by directors such as Ang Lee, Shekhar Kapur, Gavin Hood (on Tsotsi), Michael Winterbottom, Josh Appignanesi (The Infidel), Stephen Kijak, Lucy Walker (the last two of whom have new films in Directors Fortnight 2010), John Maringouin (Sundance winner 2009 for Big River Man) and Pete Travis (Vantage Point) and has a strong track record in discovering new talent.
Mike Kelly, Physical Production and Business Affairs Consultant
Previously the Group Accountant for Thames Television PLC, Finance Director at Majestic Films & TV, Finance Director at British Screen, the inaugural Head of Finance of the UK Film Council and Vice President Of Production Finance for Warner Bros in Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia, in 2006 Mike established Northern Alliance Ltd, a Chartered Accountancy practice providing accounting and consulting services and business advice to clients in the entertainment and media industries. Mike has been involved in the finance, physical production and/or business affairs of hundreds of films including; A Very Long Engagement (Un Long Dimanche De Fiançailles), Bad Education (La Mala Educacion), Bloody Sunday, Control, Dances With Wolves, Death Note (Desu Nōto), Driving Miss Daisy, Gosford Park, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Little Polar Bear (Der Kleine Eisbär), The Magdalene Sisters, The Painted Veil, Sliding Doors, This Is England and Young Adam.
About Film London
Film London, the capital’s film and media agency, aims to ensure London has a thriving film sector that enriches the city’s businesses and its people. Through the Filming Partnership: London and the South East, the agency sustains, promotes and develops the region as a major international production and film cultural capital, working with all the screen industries. Film London is supported by the UK Film Council and the London Development Agency, also receiving significant support from Arts Council England London, the Mayor of London and Skillset.
About BBC Films
BBC Films is the feature filmmaking arm of the BBC. It aims to make strong British films with range and ambition, bringing the best of British talent to audiences. BBC Films is firmly established at the forefront of British independent filmmaking, and co-produces around eight films a year, working in partnership with major international and UK distributors.
Creative Director Christine Langan is responsible for the development and production slate. Jane Wright is Managing Director, responsible for running the business operations and marketing.
Recent hits include Lone Scherfig’s Academy Award®-nominated and BAFTA award-winning An Education; Armando Iannucci’s Academy Award® and BAFTA award-nominated In the Loop; Jane Campion’s Academy award-nominated Bright Star; and Andrea Arnold’s BAFTA award-winning Fish Tank.
Forthcoming films include StreetDance, Britain’s first-ever 3-D movie, which hits UK cinemas on May 21st, 2010; Nigel Cole's Made in Dagenham, Rowan Joffe's feature debut Brighton Rock, and Ayub Khan Din's follow up to East is East, West is West, directed by Andy de Emmony.