UK films with public funding hire more women

Today’s article is an offshoot of two strands of research I’ve been working on over the past few years – gender in the film industry and UK films with public funding.  I looked at the percentage of female writers, producers and directors within UK films, focusing on how the female representation changes between films supported by a public body and those that are not.

In summary…

  • 20% of UK films shot 2009-13 received some form of public funding
  • Across all UK films 2009-13, women accounted for 14% of directors, 27% of producers and 15% of writers
  • On publicly-backed films, women account for 20% of directors, 32% of producers and 24% of writers
  • The BFI fund a disproportionately large number of dramas, biopics and period dramas
  • The BFI …
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Which BFI funded films returned the most money?

Last week I looked at the previous six year’s worth of financial accounts for the UK Film Council (UKFC) and the BFI, focusing on the recoupment stats. I have since managed to build a complete set of accounts for the 12 years between 1st April 2002 and 31st March 2014.

In summary…

  • Across all BFI funded films between 2002-14, the UKFC / BFI has received 37.6% of its money back
  • 29.4% of UKFC/ BFI funded films have returned at least £1
  • Only 5.8% have returned the full amount they were awarded
  • The highest returning funding scheme was the Franchise Funds, which returned 71% of its investments
  • The average development award was for £62,291
  • Half of development funding awards were under £25,000.
  • Of those feature films awarded development funding, 24% …
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Do BFI backed films make a profit?

As I get further down the rabbit hole of publicly-funded UK films, I’m finding curiouser and curiouser results.  Today’s research looks at the money that is returned to public organisations if a film they backed performs well. I have previously looked at How the BFI awarded £129 million in the past four years, Which public bodies are funding UK films and If publicly-backed films are any good so today I will not be addressing where the funding comes from. Instead, I’ve been going through the BFI’s financial reports over the past decade to look at how their investments fared.  It’s fascinating to get a window into how these BFI backed films performed for investors. Normally, we only get to see gross box office …

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How the BFI awarded its £129 million over four years

Over the past few weeks I have been looking at UK-based public funding for films.  It appears to be a hot topic for UK filmmakers as I’ve had all manner of emails and social media messages asking for more details.  So I decided to dig deeper into the largest public body dedicated to supporting UK film – the British Film Institute (BFI).

Over the past four years, the BFI has awarded almost £129 million of National Lottery money to films, filmmakers and film related organisations and events.  Fortunately for us, the BFI publishes details of its awards and so I crunched the data.

In summary…

  • Between April 2011 and March 2015, the BFI awarded £128,831,288
  • The money was dispersed via 1,178 awards across 927 unique projects
  • Around 75% of those projects …
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Which film genres receive the most UK public funding?

Last week I answered a question posed by someone working in a public funding institution, who wanted to know if organisations like theirs are involved with better-than-average films. The result showed that, yes, they were. This week, I am answering a question on a related topic but this time from a filmmaker. They emailed me to ask “Which genres get the most UK public funding?”. In summary…

  • 39% of UK films have drama as one of their genres
  • One in five of UK films have some UK public funding
  • 55% of the films the BFI / UKFC backed 2009-13 were dramas
  • The BBC are half as likely as the BFI to back a thriller
  • Almost a third of all films backed by the BBC were documentaries
  • Over a five year period, …
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Are films with public funding better than those without?

I recently had a conversation with someone who works at a major film public funding body (who shall remain nameless) and they said “I am starting to doubt if the films we fund are actually any better than the ones we don’t”.

It sounded like a good topic to investigate so I agreed to do some research. This goes to the heart of why public funding for films exists – is it to train filmmakers, to foster creativity/art, to invest in an industry or for something else entirely?  Without knowing why we support films with public funding we can’t agree on an objective set of factors to measure success.

However, in order to investigate this topic today I am going to take a leap and define “better” …

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The BFI and the Freedom of Information Act

In order to conduct my data research I rely on a number of different sources.  Some of the data is already publicly available, some I gather myself and some comes from asking organisations to make available information that has not previously been published. The BFI is one such source in this third category. In the UK, public bodies have a duty to share certain information with the public, under Freedom of Information (FOI) rules.  In the past year, I have been exploring how the BFI and the Freedom of Information Act interact.  It’s a complicated relationship and today I’m pleased to share some of the outcomes. In summary…

  • The BFI is not officially subject to FOI requests but is voluntarily answering public …
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How many BFI funding applications are successful?

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 …
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How does the BFI award it’s short film funding?

Today’s article is something I have been trying to write about for almost a year; short film funding. Last July I contacted the BFI with a Freedom of Information request about the amount of money awarded to short films. After a bit of chasing (and ten months passing), they have finally released the figures. I asked them which short film projects they have funded in the past few years, and to what amounts. In summary…

In summary…

  • Since 2011, the BFI has awarded over a million pounds to 29 short film projects
  • The largest amount of funding for one film was £58,500
  • Warp Films received over 10% of the total amount awarded
BFI short film funding by year

The total amount awarded since January 2011 was £1,084,961 …

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