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BFI announces Vision Awards

20 UK production companies selected for £2.8m awards from 170 applicants.

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Designed to help grow strong and sustainable UK film businesses, each company will receive a Vision Award of up to £200k over two years for film development and company growth.

The list of recipients comprises a healthy combination of fledgling and established UK production outfits.

According to the BFI, the successful companies “each demonstrated a clear strategic vision for their future growth as well as a commitment to nurturing a diverse range of new voices and fresh ideas from across the UK, with a focus on creative excellence running through all the proposals”.

The open and competitive application process saw more than 170 applicants shortlisted down to 34 who then undertook interviews with a panel of senior executives from the BFI before the 20 successful companies were chosen.

Six, almost a third of those selected, are based outside London; eight feature women in leadership roles; and for the first time – and in acknowledgement of new opportunities afforded by the recently introduced UK tax credit for animation – animation studios were eligible to apply, with four selected. 

Ben Roberts, director of the BFI Film Fund commented: “Each of the companies selected had a strong vision for the future growth of their business and we feel they’re poised to build their profile nationally and internationally, many of them by capitalising on their filmmaker relationships and creative instincts, coupled with an entrepreneurial flair.

“We think it’s an exciting and eclectic mix, and I’m really pleased we could support UK animation studios for the first time. This sizable investment in development will help to build the foundations of future growth and success for UK film.”   

The BFI’s interview panel comprised director of the BFI Film Fund, Ben Roberts; BFI creative director, Heather Stewart; BFI Film Fund senior executives, Chris Collins, Lizzie Francke and Natascha Wharton; and BFI business affairs executive, Jodie Orme.

BFI Vision Awards 2013-15

£100,000 awards (in alphabetical order)

42

  • Rory Aitken, Ben Pugh, Josh Varney, Kate Buckley
  • Film credits include: Shifty, Welcome To The Punch.
  • Upcoming: Monsters: Dark Continent

42 are taking a unique and entrepreneurial approach to forming a UK film business, bringing talent management and production under one roof.

COWBOY FILMS

  • Charles Steel, Alasdair Flind
  • Credits include: The Last King of Scotland, Fire In Babylon, Marley.
  • Upcoming: How I Live Now.

Across its narrative features, feature documentaries, and TV drama, Cowboy have impressed with a track record of introducing and working with filmmakers and writers of outstanding quality.

INDEPENDENT

  • Luc Roeg, Andrew Orr
  • Credits include: We Need To Talk About Kevin, Moon

By successfully straddling production, international sales, and UK distribution, Independent can expertly strategise and oversee a film’s journey through production, international festival selection and eventual release into the marketplace. With a strong commitment to new and emerging UK talent, Independent provide a unique and important offer for the UK market.   

LUPUS FILMS (animation)

  • Ruth Fielding, Camillan Deakin
  • Credits include: The Snowman And The Snowdog.
  • Upcoming: Raymond Brigg’s Ethel & Ernest (feature).

Lupus intends to apply their first-class artistry to recognisable and well-loved properties (such as Raymond Briggs), to spearhead a revival of 2D animation in the UK and establish themselves as a formidable, and uniquely, British animation film company.

NEXUS PRODUCTIONS (animation)

  • Christopher O’Reilly, Charlotte Bavasso, Claire Jennings

Oscar-nominated, and winner of three Cannes Lions Grand Prix and two Black D&AD Pencils, Nexus have a track record in developing animation talent and have partnered with award-winning producer Claire Jennings (Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbit and Coraline) as they move into features. The company has also established Nexus Interactive Arts, a division that creates innovative storytelling experiences across digital media, including app-based storytelling, gaming and interactive web films.

PASSION PICTURES, RED BOX FILMS (doc)

  • Passio: John Battsek, Andrew Ruhemann
  • Red Box: Simon Chinn
  • Combined credits include BAFTA and Oscar-winning and nominated: One Day in September (Passion), Man on Wire (Red Box), Project Nim, The Imposter, Searching for Sugar Man.

Working in partnership Red Box Films and Passion Pictures have impressed with their instincts for documentary features which are both critically and commercially successful. The companies are poised for growth into narrative and animated features.

WARP FILMS

  • Mark Herbert, Robin Gutch
  • Credits include: Four Lions, Submarine, This Is England
  • Upcoming: ’71, For Those in Peril

A previous Vision Award recipient, and having recently celebrated 10 years of distinctive British storytelling, Sheffield and London-based Warp has continued to demonstrate ambition and a capacity for growth. The panel was excited by Warp’s intention to expand into higher budget films and original cinematic comedies.

WILDGAZE FILMS

  • Finola Dwyer, Amanda Posey
  • Credits include: Quartet, An Education.
  • Upcoming: A Long Way Down

With little previous Lottery investment, Wildgaze have proven themselves able to raise significant budgets for their brand of quality, and commercially-successful, features. Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut Quartet has so far grossed over £8m in the UK, and close to $55m globally. 

BFI Vision Awards

£50,000 awards (in alphabetical order):

BLUE-ZOO ANIMATION (animation)

  • Oli Hyatt, Tom Box, Adam Shaw

BAFTA-winning Blue-Zoo have produced quality animation for SKY, BBC, Nickelodeon, Freemantle, Cartoon Network and Disney. They communicated many of the issues facing the UK animation sector and the panel felt that this level of support, and an ongoing relationship with the BFI Film Fund, would help the company to deliver its sustainable, profitable and international model for producing Animated Films in the UK.

FLICKERPIX (animation)

  • Joel Simon, David Cumming, Tim Bryans

Award-winning Northern Ireland-based animation studio has identified a gap in the market for low-to-medium budget stop motion animated feature films, and in their shorts work has successfully blended stop motion characters with 2D backgrounds to great effect, in an innovative and cost-effective way. The panel were delighted by their ambition to become the Roger Corman Productions of comedy stop-motion animation movie making, creating a thriving and creative powerhouse in their Holywood studios.

FLY FILM

  • Kate Ogborn, Lisa-Marie Russo
  • Credits include: The Spirit of ’45, Swandown, Self Made, The Deep Blue Sea.

Fly have delivered an impressive range of projects spanning documentary, artist’s film, and auteur work and have been a nurturing environment for more challenging material. They have the appetite, experience and people skills to effectively develop and support a cross section of creative talent.

FORWARD FILMS

  • Kate Myers and Tracy Brimm
  • Credits include: Grabbers, Skeletons

Forward impressed as a two-woman company with ambitions to redefine British film, re-shape genre and nurture new and emerging UK filmmakers and voices, always with a strong focus on their path to market.

INFLAMMABLE FILMS

  • Diarmid Scrimshaw
  • Credits include: Tyrannosaur 

A Yorkshire-based feature film company with a strong track record and a proven ability to create and nurture talent relationships, Inflammable are building an exciting slate of commercial, high quality projects.

JW FILMS

  • James Wilson
  • Credits include: Attack The Block, The Pervert’s Guide To Ideology.
  • Upcoming: Under The Skin

JW Films excited the panel with a passion for film and a philosophy that artistic quality and innovation makes for good business; that groundbreaking filmmaking will further the UK’s internationally recognised film culture; and that great cinema leads the audience and is not led by it.

ORIGIN PICTURES

  • David Thompson
  • Credits include: The Awakening.
  • Upcoming: Mandela, X+Y

A previous Vision Award recipient, Origin demonstrated a commitment to discovering and supporting new and original talent. The panel were particularly excited by Origin’s plans for a writers’ room for emerging and diverse writing talent, to help generate ideas and offer opportunities to benefit from mentoring at Origin.

RAINY DAY

  • Rebekah Gilbertson, Nicole Carmen-Davis
  • Credits include: The Edge Of Love.
  • Upcoming: Panda Eyes, Miss Shirley Bassey

An entrepreneurial female team with considerable success to date in securing private finance from a range of sources to support their projects. Rainy Day have strong ties to Wales with most of their films shot in or featuring strong Welsh elements, and also a strong development focus on films for children and teens, with several projects aimed at this market currently on their slate.

ROAST BEEF PRODUCTIONS (doc)

  • Havana Marking, Mike Lerner, Martin Herring
  • Credits include: Afghan Star, Hell & Back Again, Pussy Riot A Punk Prayer.
  • Upcoming: Smash & Grab: Story of the Pink Panthers

Roast Beef’s documentaries have popularised ‘big’subjects with a compelling, funny, and thrilling approach. They have had four films at Sundance, won six Sundance Awards, two Grierson Awards, a Prix Italia and received an Oscar® nomination, attracting funding from numerous international co-producers. 

ROOK FILMS

  • Andy Starke, Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump
  • Credits include: Kill List, Sightseers.
  • Upcoming: A Field In England

In its relatively short life, Bridport-based Rook has made a number of original, smart, inventive – and beautifully British – features which have attracted significant attention at international festivals, and established Ben Wheatley as one of the UK’s foremost talents. Now Rook are expanding to develop and produce features with other significant new filmmakers, including Peter Strickland.

STRAY BEAR FILMS

  • Ivana Mackinnon
  • Credits include: The Scouting Book For Boys, The Descent 2  

A young producer with vision and aptitude, Ivana Mackinnon has set her sights on a gap in the market for films that are ‘commercial with a twist’and is looking especially for strong female elements: well-drawn female characters; female genre movies; and movies that allow a strong female directorial voice. Having spent time as Film4’s Diversity Development Producer, Mackinnon also has experience in finding exciting and surprising voices and perspectives.

THIRD FILMS

  • Samm Haillay, Duane Hopkins
  • Credits include: Better Things.
  • Upcoming: Bypass

Newcastle-based Third’s objective is to reignite UK cultural cinema, developing bold director-led films that transcend simple genre types. The company cites Denmark and Australia as examples of territories where cultural filmmaking has re-emerged to critical and commercial significance.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Is it my imagination, or is of the case that not one of these companies is based in Scotland? Maybe they have their own fund to apply to?

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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