Ben Roberts, Director of the Film Fund
Ben Roberts is the Director of the BFI Film Fund and is responsible for overseeing the BFI’s Lottery investments in film development, production and distribution, along with the BFI’s international activities.
He has 15 years’ experience in the film industry, across international sales, studio acquisitions, UK distribution and film finance, gained during his time as CEO of Protagonist Pictures, and before that at Universal Pictures International and independent UK distributor Metrodome. His first job in film was as a part-time usher at Showcase Cinemas in Coventry.
Matimba Kabalika, Assistant to the Director of the Film Fund
Before joining the BFI in 2012, Matimba spent four years at Partizan, where she worked in production on commercials, music videos and short films, working with an array of emerging and established directing talent.
Development and production
Natascha Wharton, Senior Development and Production Executive
Natascha was born in Trinidad, to a Trinidadian father and German mother, and her introduction to cinema was at the local drive-in. Before joining the Film Fund in 2010, she worked at Working Title Films, initially in the development department. While working across Working Title’s slate on projects such as Elisabeth, The Borrowers and Bridget Jones’s Diary, Wharton created a New Writers Scheme supporting early screenplays from a diverse group of writers, including Rowan Joffe, James Watkins, Nick Love and John McDonagh.
In 1999 Wharton set up WT2, Working Title’s low-budget-film division, with producer Jon Finn. The first film to be made through the label and executive produced by Wharton, was Stephen Daldry’s Billy Elliot. Ten films from emerging filmmakers followed, including Shaun of the Dead, Ali G Indahouse, My Little Eye and Hot Fuzz. Wharton continued to work on Working Title’s slate developing projects with a broad range of writers and directors including Richard Curtis, Dan Mazer, Susanne Bier and Kevin Macdonald and in 2010 served as Executive Producer on Greg Mottola’s alien comedy Paul.
Lizzie Francke, Senior Development and Production Executive
Lizzie was formerly a development producer for the UK Film Council’s Development Fund, where she oversaw the First Feature programme, out of which was developed such projects as Clio Barnard’s The Arbor and Gillian Wearing’s Self Made.
She started her career as a film critic in the early 1990s, contributing to The Guardian, The Observer, Sight and Sound and Screen International, amongst others. During this period she also wrote the book Script Girls: The History of Women Screenwriters in Hollywood. In 1997 she was appointed Artistic Director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival and in her five years there re-established the festival as a key showcase for British cinema.
She moved into production in 2001, first for Little Bird, where she co-produced Marc Evans’ thriller Trauma, then as Executive Producer for EM Media, where her credits include Control, and When Did You Last See Your Father, Magicians and Better Things. She also acted as the British co-producer on VINYAN, the second film from cult Belgian director Fabrice du Welz, released in 2009.
Fiona Morham, Head of Physical Production
After graduating from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Fiona moved to the UK. She began working in the film industry as a production runner on Wish You Were Here, directed by David Leland and produced by Sarah Radclyffe. She then joined Working Title Films in various production positions on films such as Chris Menge’s A World Apart, Stephen Frears’ The Grifters and Vincent Ward’s Map of the Human Heart. She freelanced as a line producer for Working Title’s award-winning TV series The Borrowers and The Return of The Borrowers before working briefly at the BFI as a production executive and then as a freelance producer with the BBC with directors such as Pawel Pawlikowski, John Akomfrah and John Mackay. In 2002 she joined the UK Film Council as Head of Production.
Emma Kayee, Production Manager
Emma joined the Film Fund at the beginning of 2013 after several years working as a freelancer in production, most recently on The Selfish Giant. Prior to working in film production she was a researcher for various TV comedy programmes, produced and production managed shorts and music videos, and worked in various roles for Secret Cinema and Future Shorts. She studied English Literature and Film Studies at university, her first job in film was as a cinema usher.
Isabel Davis, Head of International
Isabel Davis transferred to the BFI in April 2011 after joining the UK Film Council in late 2006. She combines an editorial role in the Film Fund with responsibility for the BFI’s international strategy, coordinating the full range of the organisation’s activity. She plays a key role in the negotiation of co-production treaties and maintains and fosters co-production relationships with all of the UK’s partner countries. Prior to joining the UK Film Council, Isabel was Head of Development at HomeRun, during which time she developed a slate of film and TV projects. Before working in film, Isabel worked in various roles in theatre and the performing arts, including press, fundraising and general management.
Jamie Wolpert, Development Executive
After graduating from Oxford with a degree in Psychology and Neuroscience, Jamie went to the National Film and Television School, where he did a Masters in Producing. His graduation animation film, Badgered, was nominated for an Oscar. Jamie began his career as assistant to director David Yates on the Harry Potter films. He also appeared in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as the ‘Newspaper Vendor’. After working freelance in development on several film and television projects, including BAFTA-winning short film September, Jamie moved to Manchester to be Development Executive for writer/producer Paul Abbott, creator of Shameless and Clocking Off. He joined the BFI in 2012.
David Segal-Hamilton, Development Executive
Prior to joining the Film Fund, David worked in development for Stephen Fry’s Sprout Pictures and as a freelance script consultant and assessor for companies such as BBC Films, Film4 and Film London’s Microwave programme.
Shona Collins, Development Co-ordinator
Prior to working in the film industry, Shona had various roles, including at The Stage newspaper, the Chelsea Flower Show and as a TV presenter for Channel 4. But, realising her talents were probably best suited to working behind the screen, she accepted the role of receptionist at the UK Film Council. Alongside writing and developing comedy for television with Eleven Film, she started at the BFI in 2011 as the Film Fund Assistant, and in August 2012 moved into the Development Co-ordinator role.
Marilyn Milgrom, Script Consultant
Marilyn is a freelance script consultant. In addition to the work she does for the Film Fund she is also a regular consultant to the European Producers’ Network ACE and to EKRAN, a feature development workshop based in Warsaw. She was Head of Development at the New Zealand Film Commission for four years (2007-2011), before which she was senior tutor with the Script Factory. In a previous life Marilyn worked as an actor, in casting and as a TV director and producer.
Alex Stolz, Head of Distribution
Alex is responsible for the Film Fund’s new Distribution Fund. He previously worked at the UK Film Council where he helped implement the Digital Screen Network project as well as the Digital Innovation Fund, which piloted digital audience-building techniques for independent films. Prior to that, Alex programmed some of the UK’s most successful independent cinemas at City Screen. He holds an MA in Film and Television.
Katie Ellen, Senior Manager, Distribution
Katie joined the BFI in 2011. Her role includes looking after the distribution of lottery funding for specialised and British films, with particular focus on New Models awards for films with alternative approaches to distribution, cross-media and creative marketing strategies. Katie also manages the Film Export Fund. Prior to working at the BFI, Katie worked at the UK Film Council in distribution and exhibition and production, and in production at Myriad Pictures, with previous roles in PR and finance.
Vivien Muller-Rommel, Distribution and International Co-ordinator
Prior to the Film Fund, Vivien worked in acquisitions and international production for both The Weinstein Company and Universal Pictures International, the latter at which she played a key role in developing the company’s German slate. Vivien also has considerable experience in the independent sector and co-founded the pop-up distribution venture 2Dcinema, specialising in outdoor pop-up screenings at university campuses around the UK. She has continued her professional development as a mentee on the Women in Film and TV 2012 Programme, and is fluent in German and English.
Kimberley Sheehan, Film Fund Assistant
After studying Media and Communications at Goldsmiths University, Kimberley completed internships at BBC Films, The Nomad Cinema and the BFI. While interning, she worked as duty manager at the Lexi Cinema in Kensal Rise and was an occasional contributor to Total Film online. Kimberley joined the Film Fund at the beginning of 2013 as the departmental assistant.