In the last month, each enterprise has secured a £150,000 investment from the Finance for Business North East Creative Content Fund, attracting further private investment totalling over £3m into the region’s film industry.
Shot on-location in County Durham, Steel Mill Pictures’ Song for Marion has attracted funding from the Durham-based Coolmore Group, as well as securing international investment from Film House Germany and its subsidiary Egoli Tossell Film.
Song for Marion’s UK cast features Terence Stamp (Billy Budd, The Limey, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert), Academy Award Winner Vanessa Redgrave (Julia, Atonement, Howard’s End), Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace, Prince of Persia, Tamara Drewe) and Christopher Eccleston (Shallow Grave, Elizabeth, Doctor Who).
Reuniting London to Brighton producer/director team Ken Marshall and Paul Andrew Williams, the film is a London-set comedic drama about grumpy pensioner Arthur (Stamp) who is reluctantly inspired by his beloved wife Marion (Redgrave) to join a highly unconventional local choir.
School for Seduction producer Steve Bowden’s film indie Vita Nova Films has also benefited from a £150,000 cash boost from the Creative Content Fund.
Projects currently on the Vita Nova Films slate include a collaboration with directors Janos Edelenyi (Prima Primavera) and Tom Marshall (Happy Clapper).
Vita Nova has a track-record of working with new talent such as Marshall, who won a Screen International ‘Star of Tomorrow’ Award in 2008. Marshall made his last two short films with the North East indie, including Happy Clapper which starred Joe Dempsie (Skins) and Felicity Montagu (I’m Alan Partridge) – just two of the names who are lining up to star in Marshall’s feature debut.
Set to successfully invest the full £2.4m into the North East’s creative industries by the end of 2011, the Creative Content Fund has already surpassed its target of bringing £2.4m of private sector investment into the region. Films recently backed include urban crime feature The Man Inside (Peter Mullan, David Harewood, Michelle Ryan) dark family drama January (James Cosmo, Amy Manson) and feature length TV drama United (David Tennant, Jack O’Connell, Dougray Scott). United will be receive a theatrical release in overseas territories.
The unique investment partnership between Northern Film & Media and Northstar Ventures was recently hailed by the CBI as a "shining example of de-risking investment in the creative industries".
Agnes Wilkie, Creative Director, Northern Film & Media says that “An entertaining, script, top-ranking talent and an experienced production team make Song for Marion a sound commercial investment and a real coup for the North East.
“The Vita Nova deal provides an indigenous North East indie with crucial investment to develop their slate of exciting commercial features.
“These two different deals demonstrate the range of possibilities that can be achieved with a pioneering public-VC partnership.”
According to Michelle Cooper, Investment Manager at Northstar Ventures, “The North East Creative Content fund has supported a range of impressive film, TV and digital media projects with great commercial potential since launching 18 months ago.
“The two most recent investments in Song for Marion and Vita Nova Films have provided an important boost for the region’s creative industries by bringing considerable private investment and a talented cast and production team to the North East.”
Ken Marshall, Producer, Song for Marion commented on the importance of the financial support: “This investment was invaluable in bringing Paul Andrew Williams’ fantastic script to fruition and in securing such a stellar cast.
“Funding, Northern Film & Media production support, stunning locations and the North East’s talented local crews have created the ideal conditions to make Song for Marion."
The ERDF programme is bringing over £300 million into the North East to boost the region’s innovation, enterprise and business support services.
"This investment recognises the high standard of production work we have done over the last five years and our vision and commitment to producing films with artistic integrity and commercial potential with some of the best talent in North East of England. Our vision was shared, supported and significantly advanced by Northern Film & Media and Northstar Ventures Content Fund." says Steve Bowden, Producer, Vita Nova Films.
The Finance for Business North East Creative Content Fund is supported by the ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-13.