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British Film and Production Companies: Working Title

vikiwalden | Wednesday January 30, 2013

Categories: A Level, EDUQAS A Level, EDUQAS AS, FM2, Section B: British Film Topics, Film Industry, Production Companies, Genres & Case Studies, British Film

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History of a British Studio


British film has often been considered a cottage industry, which means it functions only “at home?. While it has booms, such as the early days of a studio system with the Rank Organisation, it also has disastrous busts. Many of the country’s film studios cannot sustain themselves. Unlike Hollywood, where the studios would be vertically integrated institutions, in Britain, studios have mainly been facility bases – places where people can film.

However, one production company has managed to not only sustain itself, but broken the barriers of the cottage industry and become an international organisation. That company is Working Title.

In 1984 Tim Bevan and Sarah Radclyffe founded Working Title. Eight years later, after Radclyffe had been replaced by Eric Fellner, the company secured financial backing from Polygram.

In a Guardian interview, Bevan said:


“Before that we had been independent producers, but it was very hand to mouth. We would develop a script that would take about 5 per cent of our time; we’d find a director, that’d take about 5% of the time and then we’d spend 90% of the time trying to juggle together deals from different sources to finance those films. The films were suffering because there was no real structure, and speaking for myself, my company was always virtually bankrupt.?

The majority of British production companies are independents and face the funding difficulties Bevan describes above. When Bevan decided to start the company, the British film industry was in a poor state. In 1987, Goldcrest and several other companies had slates too small to support flops, and collapsed.  Five years later, Palace Pictures stopped trading too. More and more films were being backed by American and Japanese investors which meant profit wasn’t going back into the British industry.


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