The Cannes Film Festival opens today, and to mark the event here’s Televisual’s exclusive report on the top 40 film producers in the UK.
The list comes from Televisual’s Film 40 survey, published in our May issue, which rounds up the top film production companies in the UK and also profiles the UK’s leading DoPs and studios and investigates trends in sound production and film grading.
How The Film 40 works
The Film 40 survey of indie producers has been compiled with off the record guidance and input from leading film producers, agents, financiers and independent film PR consultants. But the choice of companies is Televisual’s alone.
Unlike Televisual’s other industry surveys – such as the Production 100 or Facilities 50 – the Film 40 does not rank companies by revenues, awards or size. That’s because the film industry is very different from other creative sectors. Projects take years to develop, produce and release – meaning that a film producer’s revenues and output can vary tremendously from year to year. It’s very much a long-term game.
So we have chosen the following companies based on their reputation within the industry. The companies selected are those that have a track record of making films that attract box office, critical acclaim and/or awards.
They are not just producers for hire – rather they are producers who look for and develop scripts, attach talent to projects, raise finance and risk their own money in films that they believe in. We’ve also tried to pick companies that are capable of making a broad slate of films rather than those that are best known simply as the production vehicles for particular directorial talent.
Missing from the list are companies that are owned by broadcasters (like Film4 and BBC Films) as well as outfits that are predominantly distributors (Lionsgate, Pathe) or financiers (Ingenious, Prescience).
We’ve chosen to list the companies alphabetically. But if we did try to rank them, Working Title would sit at the very top of the list. The top-tier of film production companies would then comprise about 20 other outfits. They are companies that make one or two films a year – some of which, like The King’s Speech or Skyfall, become global phenomena.
Those companies are: Aardman, Blueprint, Big Talk Pictures, Cloud Eight, DNA, Ealing Studios, Eon, Ecosse Films, Heyday, Hammer, Number 9, Recorded Picture Company, Revolution, Ruby Films, See-Saw, Sixteen, Slate/Potboiler, Vertigo and Warp.
The Film 40
42 Ben Pugh, Rory Aitken, Josh Varney, Kate Buckley
42 is a new name in the Film 40, a production and management company set up by Pugh and Aitken of indie Between the Eyes and former Independent Talent Group agents Varney and Buckley. Actors represented by 42 include Michael Caine and John Hurt. Its most recent film project, the glossy action thriller Welcome to the Punch, didn’t set the box office alight but won industry respect for its scale and ambition. Set up in 2005 to make films, ads and music videos, Between the Eyes’ first film was the Bafta-nominated Shifty. Credits: Shifty, Welcome to the Punch
Aardman Animations Peter Lord, David Sproxton, Nick Park
Self-contained and quintessentially English, Bristol-based animation pioneer Aardman is now making a theatrical feature based on its hit Shaun the Sheep TV series. Aardman has teamed up with European backer StudioCanal for the movie. It’s a departure for the company, which recently delivered films such as The Pirates! and Arthur Christmas for Hollywood studio Sony. Aardman has won four Oscars, and over the past 40 years has established itself as a world leader in model animation. Aardman is a fully integrated company, with successful TV, commercials and digital divisions too. Credits: Chicken Run, Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Flushed Away, Arthur Christmas, ThePirates!
Altitude Films Will Clarke
Will Clarke, the founder of Optimum Releasing, launched production-led Altitude Films last year with partners Andy Mayson and Mike Runagall. Clarke had great success in founding and then selling Optimum to StudioCanal in a multi-million pound deal. So there’s lots of anticipation that Altitude will succeed too. Altitude is working The Woman in Black director James Watkins on a big budget new feature, and is said to be readying a number of new projects, including Kill Your Friends – an adaptation of John Niven’s music industry satire.
Archer Street Films Andy Paterson, Anand Tucker
There’s lots of good buzz about perennial production outfit Archer Street’s next film, The Railway Man. Now in post, the long gestating adaptation stars Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman in the true story of a Scottish prisoner of war and his journey to confront his Japanese captors. Archer Street was launched after the success of producer Paterson and director Tucker’s 1998 hit Hilary and Jackie. Credits: Girl With a Pearl Earring, Beyond the Sea, Burning Man
Apollo Films Steve Norris
Apollo is a joint venture between three key players in UK production – former British Film Commissioner and Framestore boss Steve Norris, vfx house Double Negative and the studio Pinewood Shepperton. Set up in 2011, it’s planning to go with three features this year: war poet Robert Graves biopic The Laureate; Weightless, directed by Monsters Ball writer Milo Addica; and The Keys to the Street, starring Gemma Arterton.
Bedlam Productions Gareth Unwin
Bedlam’s Gareth Unwin is working again with King’s Speech writer David Seidler, who is adapting The Lady Who Went Too Far – the true story of nineteenth century adventurer Lady Hester Stanhope, the ‘female Lawrence of Arabia’. Bedlam’s most recent film was the well-meaning Israeli-Palestinian tale Zaytoun, which received ok reviews but failed to make any impact at the box office. Unwin partnered with See-Saw on the The King’s Speech, for which he became an Academy Award winning producer. Credits: The King’s Speech, Zaytoun
Big Talk Pictures Nira Park, Matthew Justice, Kenton Allen
Solid, prolific and talent focussed, Big Talk is one of the UK’s leading production companies that’s enjoyed success across film and comedy TV. It has a track record of finding and supporting new talent – many of which, like Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, have now graduated to the big time. Big Talk, which is reportedly on the verge of a sale to Elizabeth Murdoch’s Shine Group, is in post on Cuban Fury, a dance comedy starring Nick Frost. Next up is The World’s End, the third collaboration between director Edgar Wright and stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. It’s scheduled for release in the UK in August 2103. Jeremy Lovering’s In Fear, which premiered at Sundance, is also released in August. Credits: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Paul, Attack the Block Sightseers, Rev (TV), Spaced (TV), Him and Her (TV)
Blueprint Pictures Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin
Blueprint is regarded as a very solid UK film production company, particularly after the astonishing financial success last year of John Madden’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and the earlier acclaim for its In Bruges. There’s also momentum behind the indie, which has released the well-made Now Is Good and edgy Seven Psychopaths over the past year. Blueprint is now in prep on an adaptation of hit stage play Posh, to be directed by Lone Scherfig. Boss Pete Czernin is a close friend of David Cameron, while Broadbent was previously a co-founder of Dragon Pictures and Mission Pictures with Damian Jones. Credits: Becoming Jane, In Bruges, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Now is Good, Seven Psychopaths
Cloud Eight Christian Colson
Christian Colson is the regular producing partner of London 2012 opening ceremony director Danny Boyle. Boyle is now said to be working up his next film, which is being co-written with Shameless creator Paul Abbott. Colson won an Oscar for his work on Slumdog Millionaire, and was also nominated last year for 127 Hours. Colson most recently produced Boyle’s latest film, the art heist thriller Trance, starring James McAvoy and Rosario Dawson. Despite Boyle’s pedigree, the thriller has performed modestly at the box office. Credits: The Descent, Eden Lake, Slumdog Millionaire, The Scouting Book for Boys, Centurion, 127 Hours
Cowboy Films Charles Steel
Cowboy Films works across narrative films, feature documentaries and TV drama, with a reputation for teaming up with top quality writers and directors. Run by Charles Steel, working alongside producing partner Alasdair Flind and TV development producer Sara Murray, it’s currently preparing to release Kevin Macdonald’s next film, How I Live Now, an adaptation of the Meg Rosoff book. Recent credits include Kevin Macdonald’s feature doc Marley and C4’s hit Top Boy and upcoming C4 drama Home Before Dark. Credits: Marley, Top Boy (TV), The Last King of Scotland
DJ Films Damian Jones
Entrepreneurial and fleet-of-foot, Damian Jones has a reputation for getting films made. Last year his film The Iron Lady won Meryl Streep an Oscar, while Fast Girls hoped to cash in on Olympic fever but was poorly received. He’s just completed production on Belle, Amma Asante’s period romance drama about a mixed race woman in eighteenth century British society. He’s admired in the industry for reinvesting profits from Iron Lady into Powder Room, the debut film from commercials director MJ Delaney. Jones is also said to be developing a Dad’s Army feature and a Joe Strummer biopic. Jones was previously partnered with Graham Broadbent at Mission Pictures, but set up on his own in 2003. He has a first look deal with Pathe UK. Credits: The Iron Lady, Fast Girls, Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll, The History Boys, Kidulthood. Welcome to Sarajevo.
DNA Films Andrew Macdonald, Allon Reich
Long established and always interesting, DNA Films is gearing up to shoot Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, about a female robot. It’s also readying a version of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd, directed by Thomas Vinterberg and set to star Carey Mulligan. DNA has also co-produced Sunshine on Leith, an adaptation of the stage musical based on the lyrics of Scottish band The Proclaimers. DNA was the recipient of large amounts of lottery cash soon after the creation of the UK Film Council in 1997 and went on to strike a joint venture with Fox Searchlight which yielded films like 28 Weeks Later and The Last King of Scotland, as well as a variety of TV projects. Credits: Dredd 3D, 28 Days Later, The Last King of Scotland, Sunshine, Trainspotting, Shallow Grave
Ealing Studios Barnaby Thompson
Ealing is now in development on the latest of its financially successful St Trinian’s films and has also just wrapped Nina Simone biopic Nina, written and directed by Cynthia Mort. Ealing is the UK’s only vertically integrated film studio, making its particularly British brand of films as well as owning legendary facilities Ealing Studios. Its Ealing Metro arm also focuses on international sales and distribution. Credits: The Importance of Being Earnest, St Trinian’s, Dorian Gray, Burke & Hare
Eon Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson
The home of James Bond, Eon has just enjoyed phenomenal business with the latest outing of the franchise, Skyfall, which took £1.1bn at the global box office. Eon remains very much a family business and is run by original 007 producer Albert R ‘Cubby’ Broccoli’s daughter Barbara and stepson Michael G Wilson. Their first film in charge of Eon was 1995’s GoldenEye. Credits: Skyfall, Quantum of Solace, Casino Royale, Die Another Day, GoldenEye
Ecosse Films Douglas Rae, Robert Bernstein
Active across film and television, Ecosse is in post production on Diana, a likely to be controversial feature biopic of Princess Diana that stars Naomi Watts and is directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel. Ecosse is soon to shoot Girls Night Out this year, which is said to be a strong script based on the true story of Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret being let out of Buckingham Palace for one night to join the VE celebrations in 1945. Credits: Mrs Brown, Brideshead Revisited, Nowhere Boy
Hammer Simon Oakes
The Hammer horror brand, a division of Guy East and Nigel Sinclair’s Exclusive Media, is readying a sequel to its global hit The Woman in Black, which took over $130m at the box office. Directed by Tom Harper, The Woman in Black: Angel of Death doesn’t have Daniel Radcliffe in the lead this time, but stars Jeremy Irvine and Phoebe Fox – and continues the story 40 years later. Hammer is also in post on poltergeist tale The Quiet Ones, directed by John Pogue. Hammer hadn’t released a feature for over 30 years until it became part of Exclusive. It’s diversified too, launching a publishing imprint through Random House, and active in theatre and digital. Credits: Let Me In, Wake Wood, The Resident, The Woman in Black
Headline Stuart Mackinnon
London and Newcastle-based Headline has a reputation as a creative producer and a good dealmaker. Run by Stuart Mackinnon, its most recent feature was Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut Quartet. Headline is also in post on The Invisible Woman, adapted by Abi Morgan from Claire Tomalin’s biography of Charles Dickens’ mistress and directed by Ralph Fiennes. It’s also prepping the Mike Newell directed Rejkjavik, starring Michael Douglas as Ronald Reagan. Headline recently signed an innovative deal with PR giant Edelman. Credits: Quartet
Heyday Films David Heyman
Harry Potter producer David Heyman is sticking with well-known children’s characters for his next project, a cgi/live action adaptation of Michael Bond’s classic Paddington Bear. StudioCanal is financing the film, to be directed by Paul King. Thanks to his success with the Harry Potter franchise, Heyman is viewed as one of the UK’s most bankable producers and has a first look deal with Warners – one of the very few such studio deals in the UK. War drama St Nazaire about the British commando raid in 1942, directed by Potter’s David Yates, is on the cards. Credits: Harry Potter films, I am Legend, The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, Page Eight
Neal Street Pippa Harris, Sam Mendes
Set up by Sam Mendes, Pippa Harris and Caro Newling in 2003, Neal Street spans film, TV and theatre. Its TV arm has been a strong focus in the past year, producing BBC1’s popular drama series Call the Midwife as well as The Hollow Crown, its acclaimed versions of Shakespeare’s history plays. Neal Street’s film division is readying Nora Ephron’s final script, a film version of TV hit Lost in Austen, as well as an adaptation of George Elliot’s Middlemarch. Meanwhile Mendes, fresh from the phenomenal success of Skyfall, returns to his theatre roots this Spring, opening a stage version of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Credits: Revolutionary Road, Starter for Ten, Jarhead. American Beauty
Number 9 Films Stephen Woolley, Elizabeth Karlsen
Number 9’s Stephen Woolley together with partner Elizabeth Karlsen hardly need any introduction, having produced some of the UK’s most distinguished films from the 1980s on. It’s soon to release Neil Jordan’s vampire horror film Byzantium, adapted by Moira Buffini from her play and starring Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arteton. Projects in development include John Crowley’s Carol and Jane Goldman’s The Limehouse Golem. Number 9’s most recent release, Great Expectations, directed by Mike Newell, was not exactly a flop at the box office and received mostly approving reviews – but struggled as it followed in the wake of the BBC’s successful TV adaptation.. Credits: Mona Lisa, Ladies in Lavender, Little Voice, Interview with the Vampire, Crying Game, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, Made in Dagenham
Origin Pictures David Thompson
Well known and described as a ‘quality’ producer, Origin was launched by the former head of BBC Films David Thompson in 2008. Origin is set to shoot rites of passage drama X + Y this summer. The story of a maths prodigy, it’s directed by well-known documentary maker Morgan Matthews and is inspired by his BBC doc Beautiful Young Minds. Origin is also developing What We Did On Our Holiday from writer-directors Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin, and is co-producer on Nelson Mandela biopic Long Walk to Freedom. Origin is also making two TV dramas for the BBC – an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn and PD James adaptation Death Comes to Pemberley. Credits: The Awakening, The Crimson Petal and the White (TV)
Passion Pictures John Battsek, Andrew Ruhemann
Specialising in big feature documentaries where fact is often stranger than fiction, Passion has produced over 25 films starting with the Oscar winning One Day in September in 1999. It won another Oscar this year for musical detective story Searching for Sugar Man. Passion was also involved with Bafta winner The Imposter, directed by Raw TV’s Bart Layton and is soon to release Manhunt about the CIA’s long war with Al Qaeda. Passion is poised for growth into narrative and animated features. Credits: One Day in September, In the Shadow of the Moon, Restrepo, Project Nim, Searching for Sugar Man
Peapie Films Kris Thykier
Former Freuds PR vice-chairman Kris Thykier set up Peapie Films in 2009, having run Marv Films with Matthew Vaughan for two years previously where he’d exec produced hit film Stardust. With a focus on international movies with commercial appeal, Peapie’s slate includes Garbage with Working Title Films, written by Richard Curtis and to be directed by Stephen Daldry. Thykier’s recent producing credits include the commercial success I Give It a Year by Dan Mazer, again with Working Title. Credits: Stardust, Harry Brown, Kick-Ass, W.E., Ill Manors, I Give It A Year
Qwerty Films Michael Kuhn
Run by Michael Kuhn, the former PolyGram Filmed Entertainment boss and the ex-chair of the NFTS, Qwerty is at Cannes this month with Ruairi Robinson’s ambitious vfx driven sci-fi thriller Last Days on Mars, which plays in Directors Fortnight. Qwerty is also readying Suite Francaise, based on Irene Nemirovsky’s best selling novel set during World War II and adapted by Saul Dibb. Credits: The Duchess, I Heart Huckabees, Kinsey,
Recorded Picture Company Jeremy Thomas
Veteran producer Jeremy Thomas has made some 60 films and continues to produce on average two a year. RPC’s production of Jim Jarmusch’s vampire romance Only Lovers Left Alive plays in competition at Cannes this month. It’s also soon to release crime caper Dom Hemingway, which has good buzz and stars Jude Law and Richard E Grant. Another RPC film, Kon-Tiki – about Thor Heyerdahl’s famous crossing of the Pacific on a raft in the 1940s – has earned strong reviews and broken box office records in Heyerdahl’s native Norway. Meanwhile, RPC is readying a feature about The Kinks as well as JG Ballard adaptation High Rise. Thomas’ operation also encompasses sales outfit Hanway Films. Credits: Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, The Last Emperor, Naked Lunch, Stealing Beauty, Crash, Sexy Beast, The Dreamers, 13 Assasins
Revolution Films Andrew Eaton
The prolific and entrepreneurial Revolution produces all of Michael Winterbottom’s films including his latest, the Paul Raymond biopic The Look of Love. But Revolution isn’t just a one director indie – it makes a range of other projects, and is one of the producers of Ron Howard’s upcoming Formula One epic Rush, which is set for a September release and already has good word of mouth thanks to a strong online trailer. Revolution also produced the Belfast record store tale Good Vibrations, released last month after winning the Galway Film Fleadh Audience Award. Like many other film producers, Revolution has also successfully moved in to TV, producing C4’s Red Riding trilogy as well as Winterbottom’s hit comedy The Trip. Credits: 360, The Trip (TV), The Killer Inside Me, Red Riding (TV), A Mighty Heart, In This World, 9 Songs, Jude
Rook Films Andy Starke, Ben Wheatley, Amy Jump
A new entrant to the Film 40, Bridport-based Rook Films has in a short time built up a strong reputation for producing smart and inventive British films, establishing director Ben Wheatley as an important new directing talent with films such as Kill List and Sightseers. Now Rook are expanding to develop and produce features with other filmmakers, including Peter Strickland’s (Berberian Sound Studio) The Duke of Burgundy. Rook recently won £50k of funding via the BFI Vision Awards. Credits: Kill List, Sightseers, A Field in England
Ruby Films Alison Owen
Alison Owen is a highly regarded name in the industry, with a long CV that includes Elizabeth and The Other Boleyn Girl. Entrepreneurial and creative (and Lily Allen’s mother too), Owen has diversified Ruby into TV with acclaimed dramas such as Toast, Small Island and Stephen Poliakoff’s latest Dancing on the Edge. However, Owen’s well-known producing partner Paul Trijbits left last December to set up his own company Filmwave and to executive produce J K Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy for the BBC. Ruby recently produced Saving Mr Banks, starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, in the true story behind Disney’s Mary Poppins, which is set for release at the end of the year. It’s also readying The Buccaneers, an adaptation of Edith Wharton’s high society novel. Credits: Jane Eyre, Tamara Drew, Chatroom, The Other Boleyn Girl, Sylvia
Samuelson Productions Marc Samuelson
Veteran producer Marc Samuelson left Isle of Man production and finance body CinemaNX last year to relaunch Samuelson Productions, taking with him head of acquisitions Josie Law. Four features are now in the late stage of financing and packaging from a producer whose credits include Stormbreaker, Wilde and Tom and Viv. The third generation of a well known film and TV production family, Samuelson also has a high industry profile and is chair of Pact’s film policy group. Credits: Wilde, Arlington Road, Things to do Before You’re 30, Stormbreaker
Scott Free Liza Marshall
Scott Free’s year has been tragically marked by the death of Tony Scott, brother and business partner of Ridley Scott. The company is shooting the Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth starring adaptation of SJ Watson’s best selling book Before I Go To Sleep, directed by Rowan Joffe. Ridley Scott himself is in post on Cormac McCarthy scripted The Counselor. Other projects being developed at Scott Free include an adaptation of Michael Frayn’s Skios, and a Christmas project that Jon Wright will direct. Scott Free recently bought the film rights to Anne de Courcy’s novel The Fishing Fleet. Credits: Gladiator, Robin Hood, Prometheus, Stoker
See-Saw Films Iain Canning, Emile Sherman
A “great producer with great taste” is how one rival describes Anglo-Australian See-Saw, which was launched in 2008 by London based sales exec Iain Canning and Australian producer Emile Sherman. Soon after they hit the big time with The King’s Speech, winner of four Oscars, including best film. Since then, See-Saw has produced Steve McQueen’s Shame. It’s now casting a new feature version of Shakespeare play Macbeth, backed by Film4, which has Michael Fassbender and Natalie Portman attached with Justin Kurzel directing. See-Saw is also pushing heavily into TV, and has produced Jane Campion’s upcoming TV drama Top of the Lake. Credits: The King’s Speech, Oranges and Sunshine, The Kings of Mykonos,
ShoeBox Paul Webster
The former boss of FilmFour, Webster recently launched Shoebox with Guy Heeley and director Joe Wright. Shoebox’s first film is Hummingbird starring Jason Statham. Just before setting up Shoebox, Webster produced Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina, alongside Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner. Webster was previously head of Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine Pictures’ film arm, producing Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Credits: Hummingbird
Sixteen Films Rebecca O’Brien
Entrepreneurial and consistently producing films, Sixteen Films is run by Rebecca O’Brien with director Ken Loach. Hot on the heels of his documentary The Spirit of ’45, Loach is set to shoot Jimmy’s Hall in Ireland this summer. Written by regular Loach collaborator Paul Laverty, the film is reported to be a biopic of an Irish communist who sets up a dance hall in the 1930s. Sixteen is adept at working with European partners to raise finance for its projects. Credits: The Wind that Shakes the Barley, My Name is Joe, Looking for Eric
Sigma Films Gillian Berrie, David Mackenzie
Scotland’s pre-eminent film production company, the Glasgow based Sigma is currently in production with David Mackenzie’s prison drama Starred Up about a violent teenager who meets his match in prison – his father. Sigma has produced Mackenzie’s films including Young Adam and The Last Great Wilderness. Sigma is also a co-producer on Jonathan Glazer’s upcoming Under the Skin, starring Scarlett Johansson. It also has strong links with Danish producer Zentropa, which has seen it contribute to films such as Lars von Trier’s Dogville and Susanne Bier’s After the Wedding. Credits: Red Road, Young Adam, Hallam Foe, Perfect Sense, You Instead.
Slate Films/Potboiler Andrea Calderwood, Gail Egan
Experienced producers Calderwood and Egan joined forces in 2009 to co-develop a slate while keeping their standalone companies. Their current slate includes Mike Leigh’s next film, a biopic of painter J.W. Turner, and they are taking Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man to Cannes this month. They’ve also shot their adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s bestselling novel Half of a Yellow Sun, set during the Nigerian-Biafran War of 1967-1970. Calderwood also produced HBO’s TV drama Generation Kill. Credits: I am Slave, The Last King of Scotland, The Constant Gardener
Toledo Films Duncan Kenworthy
A respected and authoritative figure in the UK film industry, Kenworthy set up Toledo Pictures in 1995 soon after producing Four Weddings and A Funeral through Working Title, and continued to work with Working Title on Notting Hill and Love Actually. The former chairman of Bafta, his most recent film through Toledo was Kevin Macdonald’s Roman epic The Eagle. Credits: Four Weddings and A Funeral, Notting Hill, Love Actually
Trademark Films David Parfitt, Ivan Mactaggart
Trademark was in the limelight this year for co-producing acclaimed TV drama Parade’s End, adapted by Tom Stoppard. Run by Oscar winning producer David Parfitt and film financier Ivan Mactaggart, it’s currently shooting First World War feature The Wiper Times that’s co-written by Ian Hislop. Trademark is best known for its award winning, prestigious dramas like Shakespeare in Love and The Madness of King George but is actively developing across a range of genres. Credits: My Week With Marilyn, Shakespeare in Love
Vertigo Films James Richardson, Alan Niblo, Rupert Preston
Commercially focused Vertigo is active across production and distribution, making a name for itself with films like Streetdance and Streetdance 2, as well as Monsters and Horrid Henry. Vertigo is currently shooting sequel Monsters: Dark Continent, the feature debut of Tom Green – a coproduction with 42. It’s also knocking out canine title Pudsey The Movie with Simon Cowell’s Syco Entertainment. Vertigo is a partner is sales outfit Protagonist Pictures. Credits: The Football Factory, The Business, Bronson, Streetdance 3d, Streetdance 2, Horrid Henry, Monsters
Warp Films Mark Herbert, Robin Gutch, Peter Carlton
Sheffield and London-based Warp recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. A spin-off from the indie record label, it’s made a name for itself for producing highly distinctive British films and is planning to expand into higher budget films and comedies. Warp’s strong relationship with Shane Meadows continues and he’s about to release his Stone Roses film Made of Stone. And Scottish writer/director Paul Wright’s debut feature, For Those In Peril, plays in Cannes’ Critics Week this month. Also coming up is Top Boy director Yann Demange’s feature debut ’71, set during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, which started shooting last month. Warp has also pushed heavily into television and is working on C4 drama Southcliffe and Sky Atlantic/Canal Plus co-pro The Panthers. Credits: Dead Man’s Shoes, Four Lions, This is England, Submarine, Kill List, Tyrannosaur
Wildgaze Films Finola Dwyer, Amanda Posey
Well respected, old school indie whose credits include Dustin Hoffman’s Quartet with Headline (which has taken over £8m at the UK box office so far) and the Oscar nominated An Education. Wildgaze is currently in post on Nick Hornby adaptation A Long Way Down, which stars Rosamund Pike and Pierce Brosnan, and is readying Brooklyn, based on Colm Toibin’s best seller, which has Rooney Mara attached. Wildgaze is a recent recipient of £100k of investment via the BFI Vision Awards. Credits: An Education, The Hamburg Cell, Fever Pitch, Backbeat
Working Title Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner
Working Title is riding high after the box office and awards success of Tom Hooper’s musical Les Miserables, which has taken nearly $450m at the global box office. There was a huge level of expectation for the film – which could easily have misfired – and Working Title’s (and the UK film industry’s) relief at its success is palpable particularly as it comes after a perceived difficult period at the company. Working Title remains the UK’s pre-eminent production company – the number one outfit here by a country mile. Backed by Universal Pictures through to 2015 via a first look deal which funds its projects, it’s trusted by the studio to deliver two to four films a year which marry a British sensibility with Hollywood production values. Working Title is now gearing up for the release of: Rush, the Ron Howard directed film about Formula 1’s Niki Lauda and James Hunt based on a Peter Morgan script; Closed Circuit the John Crowley-directed thriller that stars Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall; and About Time, directed by Richard Curtis. It’s also produced Edgar Wright’s The World’s End with Big Talk Pictures. Working Title also has a burgeoning TV division Working Title TV (WTTV), which produced Birdsong. Credits: Les Miserables, Anna Karenina, Senna, Green Zone, State of Play, Frost/Nixon, Atonement, Hot Fuzz, United 93, Nanny McPhee, Pride and Prejudice, Love Actually, Johnny English, About a Boy, Bridget Jones’ Diary, High Fidelity, Notting Hill, Elizabeth, Four Weddings and A Funeral, My Beautiful Laundrette.
Who We Have Left Out
Choosing just 40 companies was a very difficult job. Missing from the list are highly regarded individual producers such as Kevin Loader’s Free Range and Jim Wilson’s JW Films. Prolific ex-Ruby Films producer Paul Trijbits isn’t there either, as he’s just launched his new company Filmwave and is exec producing JK Rowling’s adaptation A Casual Vacancy for TV. Element Pictures was cited as a producer to include by many contributors to this survey, but we omitted it as it is Irish rather than UK based.
A whole host of upcoming and established production companies were put forward too, including: Rebekah Gilbertson and Nicole Carmen-Davis’s Rainy Day, Diarmid Grimshaw’s Inflammable Films, Ivana Mackinnon’s Stray Bear, Tracey O’Riordan’s Moonspun Films, Nick Marston and Tally Garner’s Cuba Pictures, Piers Tempest’s Tempo Productions, Mia Bays’ Missing in Action Films, Ken Marshall’s Steel Mill Pictures, Pippa Cross and Janette Day’s CrossDay, Gayle Griffiths’ Wild Horses Films, Stuart Fenegan’s Liberty Films, Ollie Madden’s Shine Pictures, Colin Vaines’ Synchronicity, Kate Ogborn’s Fly Film and Andy Sirkis and Jonathan Cavendish’s The Imaginarium.