On 12 February we celebrated the premiere of the first year of films from Collabor8te, the scheme I developed through Rankin Film Productions, which hunts out and develops some of the country's best new filmmakers. The packed event took place at the Regent Street Cinema, where Nokia and I brought together a whole host of famous faces and new filmmaking talent for a unique evening in a unique setting.
The Regent Street Cinema isn't your usual premiere location but as it visually embodies the history of film and is an enormous part of our film culture, it felt symbolic to hold the event there. Based within the current University of Westminster, it is literally the birthplace of film in the UK. In 1896, the Lumiere brothers' new 'Cinematographe' was used to show moving pictures to a British paying audience for the first time.
This seminal moment in history, which paved the way for a huge international film industry, happened in this particular cinema and I thought it was an inspiring place to ignite the talents of those filmmakers just starting out in their careers. We were also able to use the grandiose reception area to exhibit a gallery of portraits of all of the Collabor8te filmmakers, writers, producers and partners, all taken on a Nokia 808 by my assistant Trisha Ward. The result was impressive and was a fitting celebration for all the diverse talent involved in Year One of the scheme.
Since the UK Film Council disbanded in 2010, Collabor8te is the only scheme of its type in the country to uncover and develop new talent within the film industry. Rankin Film Productions and The Bureau went through over 1,400 submissions to decide on the top 12 that would go into development. We were overwhelmed by the interest out there, clearly demonstrating a need for opportunities like this.
Will we discover the next Lumiere Brothers? Who knows - but we hope to encourage that kind of pioneering hunger to experiment and create. And one way we hope to help with this is not only by funding each of the 8 films that will go into production but by pairing up filmmakers with top experts from the industry. For example, casting director Amy Hubbard (credits include The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy and The Hobbit) has cast the likes of Bill Nighy and Stephen Mangan in one of the Collabor8te shorts (The Hungry Corpse) and has scoured the country looking for the best new and established talent for each project.
Beyond supporting emerging filmmakers, Collabor8te's goal is to raise the profile of filmmaking in Britain and to bring the importance of the film industry to the fore. We aim to engage a wide and diverse public to recognise the needs of the industry and the support that it requires.
One such example of this great work is The University of Westminster's efforts in leading a fundraising campaign to raise £6.1m for the restoration of the Regent Street Cinema. It will be transformed back to its former glory in 2014 for the benefit of the public, students and filmmakers - an exciting endeavor that I can't wait to see completed.
I'm incredibly optimistic about the future of film in this country, proved by the high quality of the films premiered in Year One of Collabor8te. We hope to keep pushing to find yet more unique voices, compelling stories and skilled filmmakers for Year Two of the scheme.