Today’s article contains new data that the BFI have released to me. Following research I carried out about UK Film Council / BFI funding of short films, I wondered what the success rate was for feature film funding applications and put in an enquiry. The National Lottery is the second largest source of public funding for films in the UK, and in 2012/13 totalled £65.4 million. (Incidentally, the largest source is HMRC, who gave £206 million via the UK film tax relief). The vast majority of Lottery money is awarded by the BFI, and filmmakers are invited to apply for grants within development, production and distribution strands. In summary…
- In the past three years, the BFI has received 2,505 applications for funding.
- Of those, 720 were successful, equating to 29% of applications.
- Almost half of all applications to the BFI for development funding in 2012/13 were successful.
- In an average year, the BFI receives 353 applications for development funding, 403 for production funding and 79 seeking support for distribution.
Development BFI funding
In the graph above, the numbers for ‘applications received’ include the few which were later withdrawn. The figures for development applications cover film development, pilots, pre-production, supplementary funding applications and awards. Between 2012/13 and 2013/14 the number of applications fell by 16%, leading to a higher overall success rate for the remaining applications.
Production BFI funding
These figures are inclusive of production, first time directors, completion, documentary, enhancement applications and awards. The steep rise in applications in 2013/14 led to just 13% of applications being successful.
Distribution and promotion BFI funding
Many filmmakers are familiar with the BFI’s development and production funding schemes but not many are aware of their long-running support of distribution, helping independent films reach cinemas and audiences.
I’m grateful to the BFI for releasing these figures as I’m sure they will be of use to many filmmakers considering making an application. Before its demise, the UK Film Council was subject to the Freedom of Information Act, but the BFI isn’t. Which means that even though the BFI took over all of the UKFC’s activities it has no legal obligation to share information on its work. Despite this, the BFI (in their words) “voluntarily comply with Freedom of Information Act principles in respect of those of our activities which are of a public nature”. In practice this means that they are remarkably open with their data and statistics.