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Nik Powell OBE

Producer, Distributor
4 November 1950 to 7 November 2019

Producer, NFTS Director (2003-2017), BAFTA Trustee and Board Member (2007-2015), BAFTA Film Committee Chair, Deputy Chair and Member (2004-2016)

Few people have had such a lasting impact on the British music and film industry as Nik Powell. As a music producer and co-founder of Virgin Records with Richard Branson, Simon Draper and Tom Newman, he helped establish such talent as the Sex Pistols, Genesis, the Human League, Simple Minds and Mike Oldfield, among many more.

Ten years after launching Virgin, Powell moved into the film and video industry, setting up innovative indie outfit Palace Pictures with Scala Cinema owner Stephen Woolley in 1983. Palace’s history is the stuff of legend, with the company making a name for not only releasing striking and provocative cinema but also for highly creative marketing campaigns. Among its huge roster of theatrical titles were such standout hits as The Company of Wolves (1984), Mona Lisa (1986) and The Crying Game (1992).

Powell continued to produce after Palace ceased trading in 1992 through new company Scala Productions, with credits on films right up until 2019, but his contribution to the industry extended far beyond making movies. Powell was an influential member of BAFTA, serving on the Film Committee between 2004 and 2016, with stints as both chair and deputy chair. He also was a board member from 2007 to 2015, where he helped lead on numerous vital decisions about the charity’s aims, values, scope and direction.

Powell also served as director of the National Film and Television School from 2003 to 2017, overseeing the development of some of our brightest new talent and helping the school gain international recognition as one of the world’s best creative hubs. During his tenure, many of the school’s graduates went on to earn great critical acclaim, and quite a few BAFTA wins and nominations. The culmination of Powell’s work at the NFTS was recognised in 2018 when he and current director Jon Wardle collected the BAFTA for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema, one of the Academy’s highest honours, on behalf of the school.

With a long list of personal achievements and having made an unrivalled impact on the UK’s creative pool of talent, Powell’s legacy will be a lasting one.

Read Nik Powell's Guardian obituary here.

Read Nik Powell's Times obituary here.

Read BFI tributes to Nik Powell here.