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BFI launches revamped £4m Distribution Fund

New-look fund introduces new application criteria and strands.

The BFI today launches its new-look £4m Distribution Fund to replace the P & A Fund.

The fund now comprises four strands specifically designed to address different types of films, with distributors now needing to apply for backing under one of the strands.

The Big Audience strand will provide awards of around £250k to £300k to British films with “commercial appeal”; Breakout awards of around £100k to £150k will be granted to “independent UK and specialised films”; the New Models strand will “encourage and support new thinking in distribution and marketing through experimental and ambitious releases”; while the new Sleepers category will provide awards of around £20k to £40k to support “in-release films that have achieved exceptional weekend box office results and taken the market by surprise”. [See below for full descriptions]

Alex Stolz, senior executive, distribution fund, will oversee the fund, reporting to Ben Roberts, director of the BFI Film Fund.

Roberts said: “Distribution of independent and specialised films in the UK still carries a high degree of financial risk which can make ambitious release programmes challenging, especially for independent distributors. By sharing some of that risk and encouraging distributors to be bold and creative in their approach, the BFI Distribution Fund will be key to helping us increase choice and bring great films to audiences across the UK.”

Last year’s P & A budget was £4m, an increase on the £3m allocated in previous years.

The launch of the Distribution Fund marks another step in the roll out of Film Forever, the BFI’ five year plan to support the UK’s film industry. 

The new strands as described by the BFI:

BIG AUDIENCE

The Big Audience strand will provide significant awards of around £250-300k, helping to take high quality independent British films with commercial appeal and strong marketable elements to a wide UK audience.

Distributors will contribute at least 50% of the total P&A (prints and advertising) costs and the BFI’s funding will significantly enhance the scale and scope of the distribution strategy, ensuring the film is released on at least 100 screens and seen by cinema audiences across the nations and regions of the UK.

BREAKOUT

Breakout awards will increase audience reach for exemplary independent UK and specialised films.

With funding awards of around £100-£150k, Breakout awards will ensure critically acclaimed films with audience appeal and strong marketable elements can be seen on more screens, particularly outside London, helping to bring the best in UK and world cinema to new audiences across the UK.

NEW MODELS

The New Models strand will encourage and support new thinking in distribution and marketing through experimental and ambitious releases that explore new opportunities outside traditional theatrical and marketing routes.

The BFI’s funding will support the distribution of high quality new British and specialised films as part of a multiplatform release and/or using original marketing strategies and creative audience-building opportunities offered through cross-media activity.

The BFI aims to compile data and findings from releases supported through the New Models strand, to help the UK industry overcome challenges and exploit opportunities for growth in an ever-changing marketplace.

SLEEPERS

This brand new approach will provide flexible, agile and responsive support for in-release films that have achieved exceptional weekend box office results and taken the market by surprise.

The BFI will monitor and assess opening weekend performance and identify and invite distributors to apply for ‘fast-track’ awards of around £20-40k, where the funding can make a real impact in helping such films capitalise on their unexpectedly strong performance and reach the widest possible audience, particularly at a regional level.

As an entirely new approach, the BFI is initially launching the Sleepers strand as a pilot.

Readers' comments (3)

  • Erm, if a film has "commercial appeal and strong marketable elements" why does it need this [any?] level of support to get it to a wide UK audience. Is this to stop the big boys moaning about unfair advantage being given to the tiddlers?

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  • Let's face it, the money will be gobbled by the big boys and you will have a marketplace that's the same even if these funds didn't exist. Where is the attempts to develop talent that is still sidelined? Microwave funded Plan B and Tony Grisoni who can get money elsewhere. Of sorry, am I being cynical? Remember when 20th Century Fox had access to lottery money?

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  • I think it's brilliant what this kind of support has done for indie distributors in getting wider releases and the proof is in the box office for anyone who bothers to read and analyse it.

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