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INDUSTRY / MARKET UK

The post-Brexit UK Global Screen Fund is renewed

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- After its launch in April this year, the £7 million fund has been renewed for a further three years, with international producers also reaping the benefits

The post-Brexit UK Global Screen Fund is renewed
Denitsa Yordanova, head of the UK Global Screen Fund

After the confirmation of its renewal last month, we have been granted a further sense of the scope of the UK Global Screen Fund (UKGSF), established earlier this year in an effort to stave off the gap in the British independent film sector created by Brexit. Following on from a more cautious awarding of funds, a further nine international co-productions, predominantly backed by European countries, have received a share of £1.32 million out of the £7 million annual supply – all of which have been selected for their global market appeal, whilst still helping to consolidate the growth of homegrown films abroad. In addition to offering grants independent of this scheme, the BFI is administering the fund, provided for them out of the £42 million allocated by the government to the creative industries in the latest budget. Denitsa Yordanova, formerly of TV companies All3Media and Endemol Shine, is the executive heading up the scheme.

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The fund is divided into three strands: co-production (from where the above awards derive), distribution, and international business development. Recipients through that last strand have also recently been confirmed, with a total of £2.1 million awarded to 25 UK-based production companies – many of them famous for a bevy of high-profile and award-winning films, but needing further support to branch into international TV production. Stephen Woolley and Elizabeth Karlsen’s Number 9 Films (makers of Carol [+see also:
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, Youth [+see also:
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and Mothering Sunday [+see also:
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), Sheffield-based Warp Films (spun off from the pioneering electronic music label, and responsible for Shane Meadows’ work), and Mike Goodridge’s newly formed Good Chaos (the UK producers of Ruben Östlund’s highly anticipated Triangle of Sadness) are some of the lucky companies receiving non-repayable grants of between £50,000 and £117,600 over the three years.

Even within the latter days of the UK’s involvement with the Creative Europe – MEDIA programme, the country had been involved in fewer international co-productions than it had previously, as BFI CEO Ben Roberts pointed out last month. The films granted production awards run the gamut from commercially orientated, actor-driven films aimed at older audiences – as the British industry specialises in – to family animation, and also to works by up-and-coming auteurs that could flourish on the festival circuit. Singaporean director Anthony Chen (who won the Cannes Camera d’Or in 2013 for Ilo Ilo) is one such filmmaker, making Drift, a UKGSF-supported UK-French production, set to shoot early next year. There’s also Eva Weber’s Merkel, a documentary on the outgoing German chancellor and a UK-German-Danish co-pro, which has already secured a raft of key distribution deals. Chris Andrews’ thriller Bring Them Down is a co-production through the European Convention between the UK, Belgium and Ireland, also co-financed by MUBI, with Paul Mescal and Tom Burke leading the cast.

At the Westminster Media Forum policy conference last month, Roberts further outlined the thinking behind the scheme: “The business model for independent film is under increasing pressure, with film financing from private lenders, equity and bank loans in short supply. This is leading to an increased reliance on very limited public funds, such as the BFI and public broadcasters. There is further pressure on distributors, financiers and sales agents due to the rapid shifts in the way people are watching films.” He further went on to echo the “delight” about the continuation of the UKGSF, helping as it will UK producers to find international partners and boost exports, although a full economic review of the “value chain” for UK indie films is also under way, courtesy of the BFI.

“Our aim is to get robust and reliable evidence to strengthen our domestic film sector in terms of production, distribution and exhibition, and start to increase its value over the next decade,” Roberts further explained.

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