BFI National Lottery Filmmaking Fund opens as part of £54 million worth of support measures for British films and talent
- £36.6 million will be handed out over the course of three years, offering “crucial support” for the UK independent feature-film sector through four new funds
On 21 March, the British Film Institute (BFI) announced the opening of the BFI National Lottery Filmmaking Fund. With a total of £36.6 million (€41.43 million) set to be handed out over the course of three years, the funding will offer “crucial support” for the British independent feature-film sector. In detail, funding will be made available through four different funds: Development; Creative Challenge, funding labs; Discovery, backing debuts; and Impact, for second features and beyond.
The grants are part of Screen Culture 2033, the BFI’s ten-year strategy committed to supporting independent film “in recognition of its vital importance to the country’s cultural and economic life”.
The strategy’s support measures account for a total of £54 million (€61.16 million) over three years, “representing almost 40% of the BFI’s National Lottery ‘good cause’ funding”, and they will be “dedicated to filmmaking and supporting talent development, shorts, features and immersive content”.
The new fund has been shaped following extensive consultation and research, including sources such as the Economic Review of UK Independent Film. As a result, the fund’s revised priorities will see “an increased focus on equity, diversity and inclusion, the introduction of audience impact and environmental sustainability, alongside talent development and progression, creative risk taking, and UK-wide reach”.
In addition, there will also be increased attention paid to “where funded filmmaking teams are based, representation of place, location of production activity and the potential for local audience impact”. Therefore, new, specific targets have been introduced, which require 60% of teams and 55% of productions based outside London and the South East to benefit from the grants.
Zooming in on production funding, £29.4 million (€33.29 million) are now being made available via two new funding streams. The BFI Discovery Fund will back six directorial debuts per year budgeted below £3.5 million (€3.96 million). Next, the BFI Impact Fund will aim to support five projects per year with production funding – all of these must be features by second-time filmmakers or beyond, or debuts budgeted at over £3.5 million (€3.96 million). The £4.5 million (€5.09 million) BFI Development Fund remains “flexible and broad” in terms of the costs it will cover at all stages of development. It aims to support around 60-70 projects per year. Additional project development support will be available through the £2.7 million (€3.05 million) BFI National Lottery Creative Challenge Fund, which will open later this year. This fourth pot will back labs and development programmes to decentralise project development and ensure support is accessible nationwide.
Meanwhile, the BFI will continue to prioritise dedicated support for UK documentary filmmaking via the BFI Doc Society Fund (worth £6 million, or approximately €6.67 million) for the next three years, as well as funding for short, immersive projects, which will continue to be available from BFI NETWORK and the BFI Doc Society Fund. To support emerging talent, £7.8 million (€8.83 million), provided through BFI NETWORK, are set to back live-action and animated shorts as well as early feature development and professional development.
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