Clint Eastwood pleads for axed UK film lobby group
By Mike Collett-White
LONDON (Reuters) - Hollywood actor and director Clint Eastwood has urged British finance minister George Osborne to reconsider plans to axe the UK Film Council, a move announced last month as part of the government's austerity drive. A letter from the multiple Oscar winner is the latest salvo in a high-profile campaign by the stars to save a group which lobbies on behalf of the British film industry and invests 15 million pounds ($24 million) a year in local features.
"The UKFC was instrumental in providing to us the crucial, detailed information we needed to make our decision to ultimately shoot in the UK," Eastwood wrote, referring to the making of his latest movie "Hereafter," starring Matt Damon.
In a letter addressed to Osborne and co-signed by producer Robert Lorenz, the director said the council advised on issues including Britain's tax credit system and the availability of crews.
"Without such assistance during the early stages of pre-production ... the likelihood of a London shoot would have been greatly diminished."
The letter follows a similar written appeal published in the Telegraph newspaper last week and signed by more than 50 actors including James McAvoy and Emily Blunt. The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition is seeking savings to address a record budget deficit, and departments are facing cuts of some 25 percent in a spending review to be announced in October.
MINISTER DEFENDS POSITION
Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt has defended his decision to abolish the Film Council, which had a staff of 75.
"Stopping money being spent on a film quango is not the same as stopping money being spent on film," he wrote in the Observer weekly on Sunday, adding that the film tax credit, seen by the industry as key to attracting movies to Britain, would stay. Continued...