Netflix U.K. Features Chief Fiona Lamptey Pledges to ‘Bring Back British Talent’ to the U.K.

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Fiona Lamptey, director of U.K. features at Netflix, has revealed a strategy to build a rival to Hollywood in the country using the best of British talent, who are often forced to move Stateside once they outgrow the British isles.

Speaking at a Spotlight session during the BFI London Film Festival on Saturday, Lamptey said, “My big strategy is to bring back British talent. I feel it’s ridiculous: we’ve got the talent, we’ve got the locations, we’ve got the production workforce, we nurture them to a certain point, and there’s nowhere to go.”

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“I really want to bring back our stars, like people that have to leave their home to go make a film that feels aspirational, or ambitious, and that they can get paid for,” Lamptey added. “So I really want to make those projects that kind of feel big for the U.K. but are completely relatable to the U.K. And I want to do Hollywood films — I feel like as a U.K. audience, and as U.K. talent, we have a very distinctive voice, so I want to do our version of that, not their version.”

Lamptey produces via her Fruit Tree Media and had a distinguished career at U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 and film division Film4 working on features and short film productions. She took up the newly created position at Netflix in 2020.

Describing her stint at the giant streamer as “amazing,” the executive urged attendees at the event to read the Netflix culture document, which was updated in 2017. She said that it was great to work with “full autonomy” and that she feels “empowered to do stuff.”

Lamptey said the streamer had trusted her to program and find scripts that work in the U.K. first and then have the thematic capacity to travel.

“This is what I’ve been waiting for, my whole career — to really be able to change the industry in a really big way,” Lamptey said. “So it just feels really empowering. It feels great to be kind of a new type of gatekeeper in the U.K.”

The busy executive said she is going through 400 scripts and when she commissions feature films, budgets begin at £8 million ($10.8 million).

One of her objectives is to commission projects which are “social commentary wrapped in genre.”

“How do you do both? How do you entertain an audience and also say something?” Lamptey said. “Someone who hasn’t got the same cultural references as you: how do they still enjoy that film? That’s what I’m really interested in.”

Lamptey also revealed a new commission in “Cold Harbour Lane,” which she described as “horror/home invasion” and “full of Black characters.” Variety has reached out to Netflix for more details about the movie.

Channel 4 sci-fi mini series “Foresight,” and feature film “Ear for Eye,” both produced by Lamptey, are playing at the festival, which runs Oct. 6-17.

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