Isle of Man Film at the Cannes Film Festival

Date: 26 Jun 2009


Hilary Dugdale, Manager at Isle of Man Film was at the Cannes film festival, promoting their offering film investment and location offering. With a multitude of VIP parties, I caught up with her to find out about Cannes, their events and work with the movie world.

“We co financed our first film in 1995 and since then have co-financed ninety one TV dramas and animation projects.” Hilary, who worked for Isle of Man government previously was given responsibility to set up the film commission. Steve Christian came up with the first finance scheme, then we asked for more money. It was more a grant scheme in the first years and we made six films with twenty percent tax credit. We essentially took a gamble and paid for the stars and production to come on location betting that they would spend three times as much, once they were on the Isle of Man, which they did and continue to do so.”

From film number seven, Hilary says, which was in 1997, Steve Christian created the media development fund which puts an equity investment into films. Then two years ago, they set up cinemaNX, which is the investment arm of the Isle of Man government. “It’s a private company providing funding for the film industry.” Since the launch they’ve done six films using this equity finance method.

Hilary works mostly on the production facilitation side. “My team does things like marketing, PR, post production and makes sure the island is used properly. We find locations, get work permits and staff for film people.” CinemaNX or as they are called NX, work closely with Isle of Man film to collaborate on films they pick.

Films in their line up include: “A bunch of amateurs which Hilary says is “a rob con” starring Burt Reynolds, Imelda Staunton, Derek Jacobi. “Me and Orson Wells” which has Rick Linklater as Director of “Fast Food Nation” and “The School of Rock” film fame. “Me and Orson Wells” is a period drama stars Zak Efron. This autumn sees the release of “Heartless”, a thriller and “Wild target” a romantic comedy. “We’ve also just done a kidnap thriller “The disappearance of Alice Creed.”

On Cannes Hilary enthuses. “Cannes was great. We’ve been going for fourteen years. Its the only film festival that we go to with any strength in numbers, for PR purposes. This year was very interesting, we had lunches for the trade press on the boat, and fifteen leading film producers came along to chat about projects, we will be clinching. Its a great place to make deals.” She says. ” We pull out all the stops, including selling some of the movies we’ve made. We get a lot of casual callers, and have a lot of dinners for distributors over the seven days.

With talk of the festival being around 30% down on its usual attendance, I wondered how business was in this credit crunched 2009. “We found Cannes very good.” Says Hilary. “We noticed there were fewer Western films, less UK and USA people in town and a predominance of Asian films.” Hilary says the celebrity count was down, but on the business front it was the best Cannes they’ve attended which she attributes to their longevity in the business and being at Cannes. “NX and Isle of Man film are a constant source of reliable funding and we’ve been around for a long time and proven we are decent people to work with. We had a huge amount of interest this year.”

Of other festivals, Hilary says they don’t make the effort to exhibit. “We will go to Berlin if we need to sell there – but we don’t exhibit. We also go to the US festivals to pitch the American film market but go with a schedule of meetings just targeting people who are in town rather than for publicity.

Parties are wild and plentiful in Cannes but Hilary says they pass the team by. “We don’t go to parties because we end up being busy doing dinners on the boat. We really are there to work.” When they say boat they mean a substantial Sunseeker super yacht with all the trimmings. “We have a big Isle of Man reception on the Saturday of the main Cannes week – this time for around a hundred and twenty people. The visit really re energised us. Like everyone else it has been a difficult eighteen months, just because of the downturn and a lack of other funding. So we did go to Cannes wondering if it would prove bleak. We were proved wrong.”

Availability of film funding goes to qualifying projects. “They have to shoot half their film on the island and spend a fifth of their budget on island. IOMF have a track record of ninety films. Hilary finishes by saying “We have a wide diversity of film experience and are very film friendly.”

Hilary Dugdale

Isle of Man Film
Hamilton House
Peel Road, DOUGLAS
Isle of Man IM1 5EP
British Isles

Tel: +44 (0)1624-687173
Fax: +44 (0)1624-687171

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