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Deputy finds emails showing film producers did ask to meet him

Deputy finds emails showing film producers did ask to meet him

Friday 27 May 2022

Deputy finds emails showing film producers did ask to meet him

Friday 27 May 2022


Deputy Neil Inder has conceded that the producers of the film Toilers of the Sea wrote to him asking for a meeting just 10 days before he told the States' Assembly that they had not requested a meeting.

On Wednesday, Deputy Inder, the President of the Committee for Economic Development, was facing questions in the Assembly about his Committee's refusal to commit public money to make the film in Guernsey when he said: "Until the Committee has had a formal request for a meeting, we really are shouting in the air here at the moment."

After hearing Deputy Inder's words in the States, the film's producers, Dave Shanks and Joy Mellins, told Express they were "incredibly surprised". And Mr Shanks said: "We find it very hard to reconcile what Deputy Inder said with the facts as we know them."

The following day - at around 16:00 yesterday - the Committee acknowledged that Deputy Inder received an e mail on 15 May in which the producers of the film asked to meet him in person. 

The Committee stated that the producers' email to Deputy Inder of 15 May "was only found yesterday [Wednesday, 25 May]".

The Committee claimed that the request for a meeting "was buried at the end of a long email on the same subject". Express has seen the e mail. It contained 478 words and the request to meet was highlighted in bold type.

Dave_Shanks_and_Joy_Mellins.jpg

Pictured: Film producers Joy Mellins and Dave Shanks were surprised when Deputy Neil Inder told the States' Assembly on Wednesday that they had not asked to meet him when they had written to him on 5 May and 15 May asking for a meeting.

Express has also seen another recent e mail in which the producers asked Deputy Inder to meet them.

That e mail was dated 5 May, contained 289 words and included two requests for a meeting, both of which were highlighted in bold type.  

There was no mention of this e mail in the Committee's statement yesterday. 

Deputy Inder replied to the 5 May e mail within an hour of it being sent. His reply made no reference to the producers' requests to meet. But it reiterated his Committee's position, first established in 2021, that it could offer the producers some logistical support but could not provide any funding for the film.

Economic Development Committee

Pictured: The Committee for Economic Development, which released a statement yesterday acknowledging that meeting requests had been received.

The Committee's statement yesterday also addressed Deputy Inder's claim in the Assembly on Wednesday that his Committee was unclear about what the producers of the film were proposing.

Deputy Inder told the Assembly that his Committee had "received a proposal [from the producers] in 2021" and "met with the team" at that time.

"Subsequent to that…we have had no formal proposal as to what the production team, acting in their capacity as a professional body, actually want to do," said Deputy Inder in the Assembly.

But the Committee stated yesterday "in the interests of full disclosure" that in their e mail to Deputy Inder on 15 May the producers were "clarifying aspects of their proposal and requesting a further meeting to update the President". 

castle cornet

Pictured: Producers of Toilers of the Sea propose to involve Castle Cornet in their project if they can obtain support to make the film in Guernsey.

The Committee said it would now invite the producers to a meeting.

"The President very rarely declines to meet with individuals and groups. However, it is a fact that there is a sentence, in an only recently read email, that does request a meeting," said the Committee.

"Contact will be made with the Toilers of the Sea producers and, out of courtesy, an arrangement will be made for them to meet with members of the Committee."

In their email to Deputy Inder on 15 May, the producers said they were seeking the support of the States in the form of "a letter of commitment of anything between £500,000 to £2million where the money will only be called upon once we have letters of commitment from other individual investors totalling £8million". 

"As an investor in the film, the States would be in shared first position recoupment for all monies received from its international distribution," they said.

The Committee's position on funding the film was first set out in a letter to the producers of the film 15 months ago and reiterated since. In February 2021, the Committee told the producers: "As you are aware, the previous Committee provided £25,000 in development funding. Unfortunately, the Committee does not have access to significant amounts of uncommitted funds and, given the inevitable risk attached to a project of this nature, does not feel it would be appropriate to invest taxpayers' funds in this way. The Committee's view is that you will need to seek investment finance from private individuals or corporates."

Victor_Hugo.jpg

Pictured: French writer Victor Hugo wrote Les Travailleurs de la Mer (Toilers of the Sea) in 1866. The book is dedicated to Guernsey, where he spent 15 years in exile. 

On Wednesday, the producers said they were "extremely disappointed" that the Committee was not engaging with them in the way they hoped or supporting the production of the film locally. 

"The Bailiwick of Guernsey is the natural home of Toilers of the Sea and we want to honour that," said Ms Mellins. 

"We have been trying for three and a half years to secure the production of this film in Guernsey and now we have some very serious decisions about making the film somewhere else, although we both want it to be in Guernsey."

Mr Shanks was born and raised in Guernsey. His sister still lives locally. His father, Ernest Shanks, was Deputy Bailiff. 

"This film deserves to be made locally and we will go all out to try to make that happen," said Mr Shanks.

"I am so disappointed. This deserves to be made and we want to make it. If we have to make it somewhere else, it will be with very heavy hearts."

READ MORE...

"We find it very difficult to reconcile what Dep. Inder said with the facts"

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Posted by Ian McCathie on
It is staggering that one of senior deputies seems unable to read a long email and it will be a travesty if Toilers is filmed anywhere else but Guernsey. The States can find funds for many vanity projects but not for supporting a film that could probably create huge positive publicity for Guernsey, which would cost a huge amount to purchase through Guernsey Tourism. The other Guernsey film we lost was a travesty with foxes barking in the soundtrack of Guernsey at night
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