The scale of BFI development and production funding

In a recent conversation with some filmmakers, I was asked about the amount of money the British Film Institute (BFI) awards to British films for development and production activities.

I thought it was a great topic for an article, so I agreed to take a look.

The BFI is a public body which, among other things, awards money raised from the National Lottery to people, projects and productions which will help the British film industry.  In the past, the BFI was primarily a cultural and heritage organisation but in 2011 its remit grew when it was given Lottery funding responsibilities from the newly-shut UK Film Council (UKFC).

How significant is the BFI’s financial support to UK films?

It’s hard to understate just how much …

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The big changes taking place in UK film production

New figures released last week about UK film production in 2017 have prompted questions from readers about the health and evolving nature of the UK film industry.

I’m focusing on the production sector because otherwise it would be far too big a topic for one article. I’ve split the key changes into five points (and a bonus one at the end for good measure).

I’ll start with the happier trends and work towards the less positive changes.

1. Overall, the production sector is booming

In just under twenty years, the amount spent on feature films in the UK has ballooned from £389 million in 1998 to £1.9 billion in 2017.  Once we take inflation into account, this is an almost threefold increase. Some of the …

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The shocking state of corporate finance among UK film companies

The vast majority of film research is focused on either the sector as a whole, or studies the performance of a subset of films.  There is very little research into the companies behind the films and how the corporate side of the film business operates.

This is a rather large oversight as films and filmmakers do not operate in a vacuum – they are employed, resourced and assisted by a network of companies, without whom their films wouldn’t get funded, produced or seen.

Which is why I am pleased to be able to discuss the results of two studies that looked at the corporate finances of over 100 film businesses in the UK over a ten-year period.  They provide a vital insight into how the film …

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The London Film Festival by numbers

The 61st annual London Film Festival kicks off this week, with a programme of 242 feature films from 67 countries around the world. 

So I thought I’d take a quick look at the festival and its films.

The London Film Festival by numbers

Last year, the London Film Festival screened to a total audience of 184,000 people, making it the UK’s largest film festival by a big margin. 

And it’s growing; the 2016 attendance figure is 70% higher than a decade ago.

Note: I could not find the figures for 2002 and 2005 but the festival did run.

Good value

One possible reason for this large attendance is that tickets compare favourably with average cinema ticket prices in London.  A few years ago, I looked at the average …

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The effect of Brexit on the UK film industry

It’s been almost a year since I last addressed the topic of Brexit on this blog and I’ve wanted to give you an update for a while. The reason you’re reading this now is that the BFI have finally released an internal report (commissioned last summer) which looks at the effect of Brexit on the UK’s screen sector.

The report was put out to tender last August and the finished document delivered to the BFI’s Screen Sector Task Force in January. It wasn’t publicly available, so I put in a Freedom of Information request and last Friday the report was added to the BFI site. I strongly recommend that you download and read the full report yourself. It’s 84 pages long …

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The UK’s secret 20% tax relief for short films

Short films have long been a vital part of the journey of new filmmakers, allowing them to learn new skills, meet like-minded collaborators and showcase their talent.  

Most people’s first few shorts have a budget of almost (or exactly) nothing, with the filmmakers relying on the help of friends and family.  However, as their ambition grows, so too must their budget. The cost of a short film can vary wildly, but over half of the short films submitted to the Raindance Film Festival cost more than £3,000.

Short filmmakers do all sorts of things to raise money for their short films, including crowdfunding, applying to schemes, begging family and spending their own savings.  So it may come as a surprise …

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How much of the UK film economy comes from abroad?

As we’ve previously discussed, the UK film economy is currently in bullish form.  One of the major reasons is the high levels of ‘Inward Investment’  i.e. films from other countries which are choosing to shoot in the UK.  

A few people have asked me to give an idea of just how much of the UK film economy comes from abroad.

How much of the UK film economy comes from aboard?

Productions funded by non-British sources have been growing significantly over the past decade. In 2016 they accounted for 85% of the money spent on film production in the UK, up from 67% in 2006.  This is thanks to the recent trend of the UK housing some of the world’s biggest films, such as all …

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The state of the UK film industry

The newspapers last week featured headlines like “UK film production break[s] records” and “Star Wars punches London film industry past light speed“.  This led to a number of people contacting me to ask if the overall message was true – is the UK film industry really doing as well as is being claimed?  

Most of the messages came from independent British filmmakers who were either sceptical at the claim that all was rosy in UK film, or who thought that the numbers were being cooked to make things look better than they are. 

The first thing to note is that I don’t doubt for a moment that the data is correct.  The BFI does a terrific job at collecting the raw data, …

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What needs to change in the UK film industry

It appears to me that the UK film industry is currently in a period of increased introspection.  Even before the Brexit vote, I noticed a rise in the number of questions I received from industry professionals, both online and in person, about what’s next for UK film.  Popular topics include equality within the industry, the dramatic fall in micro-budget production and the response of the British Film Institute (BFI) on various issues.

And then in June, the decision by UK voters to leave the EU shocked the film industry. The vast majority of filmmakers didn’t have a working knowledge of how the UK film industry connected with European bodies and institutions, and only learnt the advantages they had been receiving once the decision had been made to discontinue them.  Scaremongering …

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What types of films compete in the London Film Festival?

In a few weeks the 59th BFI London Film Festival will open, screening 238 films from 72 countries in 16 cinemas over 12 days.  The main accolade awarded each year is the ‘Best Film’ prize, which last year was won by Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan.  This year’s 13 nominees have just been announced and the winner will be revealed on the last day of the festival, 17th October. 

The London Film Festival is the highest profile UK film festival and takes place in many of the UK’s most prestigious cinematic venues.  It’s often regarded as being in the second tier of major international festivals, behind only The Big Five (Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Sundance and Toronto).  Each festival has their own tastes and therefore screen certain types of films.  Earlier this year …

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