The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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For Woody, Britain’s better than US

London, Dec. 25: Woody Allen, the quintessential New Yorker who has transferred his film-making affections to London, has hit out at American film financiers for trying to interfere in his projects.

The 70-year-old director said it was much easier to film in London, as his financial backers, who include the BBC, kept out of the way when he was shooting, rather than those in the US who now wanted to do more than simply invest.

Woody likes to retain control of his films. He also expressed regret that his films remain highly regarded but not financially successful. He said: “My relationship with American audiences is the exact same as it always has been. They never came to see my films, and they don’t come now.”

He was speaking before last Sunday night’s British premiere of Match Point, the first film he has made in London.

The '8.4 million film, which stars Scarlett Johansson, has been nominated for four Golden Globes and stars Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Emily Mortimer, Penelope Wilton, Matthew Goode, James Nesbitt and Ewan Bremner in its cast.

He has since finished a second film in Britain, Scoop.

In the past, the autonomous Allen has enjoyed creative control thanks to generous patrons such as Arthur Krim, the former head of United Artists. However, the entertainment industry is changing.

Speaking on BBC1, Allen said: “I like to make films in a certain way. I don’t like anyone to read my script. I don’t like anyone to have any input on my castings or see my dailies or interfere with the picture.

“In the United States, there are many people who don’t just want to consider themselves bankers. They want to feel they have input. I just can’t work that way.

“I found that in London there were people who were willing to finance the film and not bother me about reading the script or casting. So it was a very pleasant atmosphere to work in artistically.”

Allen said that in the US he had received “more than I deserve of adulation”, but in the sense of being a big-moneymaking filmmaker he had never been popular.

“I’ve always had a small audience in the United States. Annie Hall was the smallest money-making Academy Award-winning best picture in history.”

Allen called himself a mediocre filmmaker who had squandered “golden opportunities over where I could work with complete freedom artistically”.

He said: “I have made some films better than others. But I’ve disappointed myself most of the time... the only thing standing between me and greatness is myself.”

Allen, who performed with his New Orleans jazz band in Brighton last Monday, added: “People come and see the band because they see me in the movies.

“There are real musicians that can’t fill up concert halls. My audiences come more to look than to listen. The fact that people come ' and buy tickets 'continually amazes me.”

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