Managing Director of NFM, John Tulip, to step down

Posted on 24th November 2020 by Charlotte Nixon

After 17 years in the company – eight of those being at its helm – Managing Director of Northern Film + Media (NFM), John Tulip, is stepping down. He leaves NFM in the capable hands of new Chief Executive Alison Gwynn, our former Programme and Partnerships Director.

John joined NFM in 2003 after seeing an advert for the position of Director of Finance & Administration. He was promoted to Managing Director in 2012 after we hit a difficult financial period, owing to the government’s abolishment of the UK Film Council and regional development agency, One North East – our two biggest funders. After managing to secure investment from the local councils in Newcastle and Gateshead, Northumberland, and Durham, match-funded against European Regional Development Fund money, John and our team managed to stay afloat.

Across the 17 years John has worked for NFM, we’ve seen some great successes. He cites NFM’s financial investment into Inspector George Gently and the pilot episode of Vera, the production of films from local producers including One Night in Turin, tv drama United, and NUFC documentary We Are The Geordies, and the production service work on 2007’s Atonement, as being some of his highlights.

More recently, we created Tees Valley Screen in 2019, our Production Service continues to work diligently to assist long-standing productions in the region, as well as to encourage filming in the region, our Crew Academy supports those looking to begin their film and TV careers, as well as helping productions and production companies to recruit new entrants into their trainee roles, and our North East Comedy Hot House (NECHH) is a first-of-its-kind comedy co-op designed to cultivate regional talent, both on and off-screen.

Over his time at NFM, John has worked with many screen industry professionals, some of whom now work for organisations such as the British Film Institute/Film Hub North and The Film and TV Charity, but still have fond words to say about their experiences of John and NFM.

Roxy McKenna, BFI NETWORK Talent Executive, said:

‘Before joining Film Hub North last year I worked with John for over 10 years at Northern Film + Media. Whilst keeping NFM afloat through really tough times with his exceptional budgeteering (yes, that is a word) he still allowed me to pursue risk-taking creative programmes that gave talent new and exciting opportunities to develop work. He always trusted his team to deliver, and through his down-to-earth management style and sense of humour created an atmosphere where creativity could thrive.’


Rupert Jones-Lee, Support Programme Manager at The Film and TV Charity, added:

‘Unpretentious, dryly humorous, sometimes foul-tempered (though never for long), John has been the heart of NFM for 17 years. He has steered the organisation through several challenging incarnations, always with a combination of quiet but indisputable professional skill and unobtrusive personal kindness. His shrewd reading of the runes during the days when funding was abundant was absolutely critical to the company’s survival during the period of austerity that followed, when many peer organisations went under. Simply put, it is thanks to his acumen and abilities that NFM still exists, and that the knowledge and connections housed there have been preserved for the benefit of the creative community of the North East. All of us who care about the region and its fantastic community of filmmaking talent are deeply in his debt.’


Northern Film + Media also has a longstanding relationship with Screen Yorkshire. Chief Executive of Screen Yorkshire since 2006, Sally Joynson, had this to say about John:

‘Screen Yorkshire and Northern Film + Media were two of the original screen agencies, and when that network was dissolved in 2011, both companies decided to go it alone – a big step for both of us. We followed different paths, but John and I kept in touch regularly, even when moral support and/or a glass of something cold, was the only thing we could offer one another!

We’ve worked together for a long time and faced many of the same challenges. We’ve also shared many memorable moments – some good and some not so good! But it’s fair to say that without John, and his unfailing good humour and down to earth approach, some of these might have got the better of me!  We won some battles and lost others, but we shared a determination to champion our regions, not to give in, and that has seen us through almost two decades as colleagues – and friends. Though work circumstances might change, Screen Yorkshire and NFM will always remain in touch and I hope John and I will too.’


John couldn’t be happier to be leaving NFM in the hands of Alison Gwynn, who has worked for our organisation since 2017, after spending thirteen years as Programme and Development Director at Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books, and a spell as Head of Marketing at International Centre for Life.

When asked on his thoughts on Alison becoming NFM’s Chief Executive, John said:

‘I think Alison is fantastic. Alison is very dedicated to NFM. As soon as she joined us, she really bought into it, and she’s made it her business to learn about the different aspects of the industry. She’s very talented, she’s a great fundraiser, she’s a good manager, and she’s a great ideas person. I think NFM will thrive under her.’


Alison added:

‘I’m so pleased to have had the chance to work with John over the past couple of years. His experience of managing the company through ever-changing economic climates and cultural landscapes has been invaluable. On behalf of the NFM team, both past and present, I’d like to thank John for his commitment to the organisation and to improving the region’s screen industries. It’s a huge honour to be passed the baton, and I look forward to leading NFM through its next phase of development’.


You can read John’s full interview here.

We wish John all of the luck in the world, and thank him for his years of dedicated service to NFM!

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