October 25, 2009
Mark Macaskill
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Producers of a thriller starring Robert Carlyle are offering fans the chance to appear on screen alongside the actor in return for investing in the film.

The Glasgow-born star of Trainspotting and the Full Monty has signed up for the lead role in Clean Skin, a British film in which Carlyle plays an MI5 agent. The movie is set in and around London and is due to begin filming early next year.

Private investors are being invited to buy shares in the movie by UK Film Studio, a London-based firm involved in the venture, with the chance that they will appear as extras with speaking parts.

Those who help to bankroll the film will also be invited to gala screenings and after-film parties in London’s West End and Cannes.

Investors will enjoy tax relief on their contributions and the possibility of tax-free profits if the film is a box office success.

The offer is being run as part of the government’s Enterprise Investment Scheme, which allows small, high-risk companies to raise finance by offering investors tax breaks.

The scheme is increasingly popular among filmmakers unable to raise finance from traditional backers such as banks and hedge funds. Last week, it emerged that Universal Studios had cancelled a film with Cate Blanchett and Hugh Grant due to budgetary constraints.

Carlyle is said to have been impressed with the script of Clean Skin, a story about the efforts of the intelligence services to thwart a terrorist attack.

In the vernacular of counter-terrorism officers, a “clean skin” is someone with no previous convictions and whose profile does not fit that of a terrorist.

“The film is about a character whom you don’t expect to be a problem,” said Harry Rushton, a director of the UK Film Studio and a consultant on the film set. “Carlyle plays an intelligence officer and he really enjoyed the script, he was taken by it. This one’s definitely going to get off the ground and the benefit to investors is that they are associated with a successful film and get tax relief against the money they put in.”

The film will be directed by Hadi Hajaig, who has successfully used money from private investors to finance previous ventures including his 2006 film, Puritan. He hopes that Carlyle will attract significant investment in the project.

Earlier this month, Carlyle, a former Labour supporter, accused the government of not doing enough to help filmmakers. Last year, overseas investment in filmmaking in the UK fell from £523m to £338m.

“The British film industry is on its knees,” said Carlyle. “It’s all too easy for the government to jump on the bandwagon when we have a hit, by slinging their arms around filmmakers and actors.

“I’d like to see that support when they don’t need our votes, like a tax incentive to attract foreign productions here. Of course the Americans don’t want to film here. The government have made it harder and even more expensive.”

The actor is best known for his portrayal of the sociopathic Frank Begbie in the 1996 film Trainspotting, based on the book by Irvine Welsh.

The Full Monty, the Oscar and Bafta-winning film in which Carlyle played an unemployed Sheffield steel worker, grossed around £160m worldwide when it was released in 1997.

Carlyle’s 2007 film, 28 Weeks Later, earned around £32m.

The actor is currently appearing in Stargate Universe, the American sci-fi series, which premiered earlier this month in Britain on Sky TV.

A spokeswoman for Carlyle confirmed his involvement in the venture. “Robert is attached to the project. We have signed a letter of intent with the producers,” she said.
Source of this article : Times Online