In Stage 1 of the FOCUS project companies will work with a Business Development Consultant to identify the best routes for growth, and create a Business Development Strategy outlining the areas of specific sector expertise needed in order to achieve the company's ambitions.
Three consultants for Stage 1 have been contracted to work with participating companies on FOCUS. They are Mike Kelly, Olsberg•SPI, and Jen Topping. Please see below for more details about each of the consultants.
Participating companies in FOCUS will be matched with the most appropriate Business Development Consultant for their needs.
Mike trained and qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Price Waterhouse and became the Group Accountant for Thames Television PLC in 1990, being part of the management team that turned round the monolithic former ITV franchise holder into a leading independent producer and distributor of television programmes such as Mr Bean, Minder and The Bill. He subsequently worked as Finance Director of Majestic Films & TV, the leading sales agency responsible for the distribution of films such as Dances with Wolves and Driving Miss Daisy, and British Screen, the public-private partnership owned by Channel 4, Granada, Rank and United Artists that helped finance and produce around 15-20 British and European productions per annum, including award winning films such as Sliding Doors, Topsy-Turvy, Ma Vie en Rose and Antonia's Line.
As its inaugural Head of Finance, Mike helped establish the UK Film Council, integrate its constituent bodies, create its systems and policies and make its initial investments in the development, production and distribution of films including Gosford Park,Bloody Sunday and The Magdalene Sisters. He was then recruited by Warner Bros to help expand their local language production activity in Europe and then extend it to Asia, taking a leading role in planning the expansion of its businesses and becoming responsible for finance and physical production on the acquisition, production and distribution of around 20 films per annum including, for example, Desu Noto (Death Note), Goodbye Lenin, Romanzo Criminale (Crime Story), Un Long Dimanche de Fiancailles (A Very Long Engagement), Volver and Young Adam.
In 2006 Mike established Northern Alliance Ltd, a Chartered Accountancy practice specialising in providing accounting and consulting services and business advice to public and private sector clients operating in the entertainment and media industries. Northern Alliance has provided business advice to clients as diverse as Aardman Animations, Royal And Derngate Theatres and Octopus Investments, the largest Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) provider in the UK. Northern Alliance also advised Film London on the finance, physical production and business affairs of projects it supported via its ‘Microwave’ programme including the 5 times BIFA nominated Shifty, Ben Drew’s Ill Manors and 2014 Sundance opening film Lilting. Other productions Northern Alliance has provided advice on include Control, Tyrannosaur and This is England ‘86. Northern Alliance also pioneered and helped deliver ‘Take 12’, the digital innovation programme that has assisted over 40 businesses understand and seize the opportunities presented by the Internet. Public sector consulting work includes the first ever comprehensive examination of the corporate finance of the UK film industry, the most detailed analysis yet of the UK’s low and micro budget film sector and, with Ipsos Mori, the most extensive examination of what the UK public think and feel about film; ‘Opening Our Eyes’.
A NESTA creative business mentor, Mike has also helped deliver teaching, training and industry development programmes across the UK and overseas, including as a visiting lecturer at Cass Business School.
Olsberg•SPI is a creative industries consulting firm specialising in the worlds of film, television, video games and digital media. With a practical understanding of the creative industries, SPI delivers informed, creative and realistic solutions for clients. The firm has worked on company development and sustainability in the UK and around the world and in 2012 published Building sustainable film businesses: the challenges for industry and government.
Olsberg•SPI proposes a team approach to Stage 1 consultation. Companies will work directly with Leon Forde, but also benefit from the support of Jonathan Oldsberg, Andrew Barnes and Aidan O'Hare.
SPI Chairman Jonathan Olsberg has worked in the screen industries for 35 years, starting out in New York as an international sales agent, handling titles such as My Beautiful Launderette, before distributing specialised films in the US from directors like Resnais, Godard, Verhoeven, Greenaway and Paul Cox. In 1989 Jonathan returned to London as Managing Director of international distributor and sales agent Glinwood Films (The Last Emperor).
Jonathan founded SPI in 1992 and his work as chairman has ranged across all areas of its expertise, including extensive work on company development. He is a member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the British Screen Advisory Council and the European Film Academy. His first career was in investment banking, in London and New York. In 1973 Jonathan obtained an MBA from Columbia University in New York having previously qualified as a chartered accountant in 1971.
Leon is an Associate Director of Olsberg•SPI having joined the firm in 2013 after 15 years as a senior journalist and contributing editor for Screen International. Leon’s work for Olsberg•SPI spans a wide range of international strategy, business planning, feasibility and insight projects. In 2017 he delivered The State of the UK Independent Film Sector, a major analysis for UK producers’ body Pact of all cyclical and structural changes occurring in the independent film business.
He has spoken about the film business on the BBC and CNN and at international festivals and conferences, and has also contributed to a wide range of media outlets in the UK and overseas. He is a member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and the British Screen Advisory Council’s Future Leaders’ Forum.
Andrew is an Associate Director at Olsberg•SPI, with seven years’ experience consulting in the public policy space, and has been at the firm since 2012. Andrew works across all areas of SPI’s business, with recent projects related to economic impact and screen sector strategy, the future potential of digital media innovations, and festival evaluations.
He is presently working on a refresh of SPI’s 2015 Economic Impact for the UK’s Screen Sector Tax Credits, an evaluation of the status of the Irish audiovisual sector, including economic impact and strategy elements, and an evaluation of the Sarajevo Film Festival. He is a member of the British Screen Advisory Council’s Future Leaders’ Forum.
Aidan is a Research Analyst at Olsberg•SPI, having worked previously in Ireland as an Investment Analyst. He has finance and applied economic research experience from his time in the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, a large sovereign wealth fund. Here he worked to develop a framework, methodology and procedures to measure and report the Fund’s annual economic impact on the Irish economy across many metrics. He also analysed and forecasted the economic impact of prospective investments and conducted scenario analysis on the entire assets of the Fund. Aidan has completed level two of the Chartered Financial Analyst programme. He also has a research Masters’ degree in Economics from Trinity College Dublin from 2011.
Jen has over 16 years’ experience of business, commercial and editorial management for TV broadcasters, publishers, games and tech companies.
She specialises in strategy and management of digital content propositions for traditional media businesses covering P&L management, editorial and creative leadership, strategy definition and implementation, commercial planning, complex partnership management, talent development, operational and cultural change. Jen is also experienced in business development and defining investment opportunities for growth.
Her most recent role was EVP of Digital for Beano Studios. Reporting to the CEO, Jen was responsible for defining and executing the strategy to build a global digital content network designed specifically for children.
She’s worked with a broad range of clients from charities looking to launch new online customer experiences to investment funds seeking opportunities in the TV, digital and games sectors.
Previously Jen was director level at Microsoft working for the studio producing interactive TV for Xbox, where she was headhunted to join the European studio responsible for creating interactive TV experiences for Xbox.
She spent seven years at Channel 4 in a range of senior roles including managing channel4.com and was part of the launch team for 4oD. There, she created and implemented new processes, strategies and frameworks, many of which continue to underpin C4's online portfolio, managed the channel's first suite of iOS apps, and negotiated the channel's first digital rights framework with PACT
She is an MBA graduate with a background in BBC journalism. Jen was vice chair of BIMA from 2013 to 2016, the trade body for the British digital industry.