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The BFI has opened its new BFI National Lottery Filmmaking Fund, with £36.6m over three years for fiction feature films offering crucial support for the independent sector UK-wide. It will be available through four focused funds: Development; Creative Challenge – funding labs; Discovery – backing debuts; and Impact – for second features and beyond with funded decisions guided by the new fund priorities.

BFI reinforces its commitment to UK debut filmmakers; recent films such as Aftersun, Rye Lane and Blue Jean demonstrate the cultural importance and power of nurturing new independent filmmakers.

Equity, access and inclusion

As one of the three core principles set out in the BFI’s Screen Culture 2033 to guide all of its work, the BFI continues to be committed to supporting a more equitable and inclusive industry. All projects supported through the BFI National Lottery Filmmaking Fund will need to achieve the new BFI Diversity Standards for film.

To address access barriers for filmmakers, cast and crew with support requirements relating to a disability or physical or mental health diagnosis, applicants will be encouraged to include relevant costs in their budgets.

If a project is already requesting the maximum available amount, teams can request additional access costs if needed. The BFI will continue to use its role as a financier to actively address underrepresentation in supported feature films, requiring commitments to inclusion and fostering a positive working culture.

All projects can request additional BFI National Lottery funding to access support in two specific areas: to fund a Wellbeing Facilitator, dedicated to championing and facilitating a positive working culture on a production and acts as an independent point of contact for everyone on set throughout the lifecycle of a production; and to support talented crew from underrepresented groups to progress their careers by taking on more senior roles (including Heads of Department) through BFI Step Up. Building on the success of the Step Up the fund will aim to facilitate even more people to make a meaningful career progression on a BFI production.

Mia Bays, Director of the BFI National Lottery Filmmaking Fund, said:

“National Lottery good cause funding has supported film since 1994, and continues to play a crucial role in the UK independent film landscape. Through our support we aim to benefit people’s lives across the UK, serving the public, the filmmaking community and wider culture both at home and away. This guiding principle has seen the fund team back a rich and varied slate that celebrates a multitude of voices and achieves significant audience reach and cultural impact.

“The UK has world-class indie filmmakers and the Filmmaking Fund launched today firmly seeks to support them and nurture those who will be part of shaping its future. In response to evidence, listening to the industry, and building on past achievements, we are setting out a strategy that is re-focused and clear about our ambition to support projects to have the greatest possible impact with audiences and on the careers of filmmakers, which speak to communities underrepresented in UK film previously. We are all navigating a reality, post pandemic, of challenging conditions which require a pragmatic approach. Informed by my own 30-year experience across the sector and working closely with the filmmaking fund team, we are committed to doing as much as we can with the funding available in fair, focused, transparent and mindful ways.”

Screen Culture 2033, the BFI’s 10 year strategy, sets out a clear commitment to support UK independent film in recognition of its vital importance to UK cultural and economic life. £54m over three years, representing almost 40% of the BFI’s National Lottery ‘good cause’ funding, is dedicated to filmmaking, supporting talent development, shorts, features and immersive. The new BFI Filmmaking Fund is an important pillar of that work.

Other BFI support of the UK independent filmmaking sector The BFI’s commitment to UK independent film extends beyond the funding and support available through the BFI National Lottery Filmmaking Fund. As the UK’s lead body for film, and detailed in its 10- year strategy, the BFI works to create the conditions for a thriving screen sector in the UK, and fundamentally believes a successful UK independent film industry is vital to that. It therefore is a major element of its screen culture programming across the board, including through BFI venues, UK-wide, BFI Player and BFI Festivals.


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