Creative England gets £1.8m in funding for its programmes for new and emerging filmmakers; Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are also partners with enhanced new talent support.

The BFI is unveiling its new BFI NET.WORK to back new and emerging film talent across the UK with more than £3m per year.

The partners in the NET.WORK are Creative England, Creative Scotland, the Film Agency for Wales and Northern Ireland Screen. The BFI is also working with Film London on two short film schemes, with Aardman on animation talent development, and with 104 Films to support emerging filmmakers with disabilities.

The NET.WORK aims to join up agencies across the UK to work together and share information about new and emerging writers, directors and producers; nurturing them on the road to making their first feature films.

The various schemes and initiatives that are part of NET.WORK will give funding for film writing, directing and production for shorts and developing ideas for first features; there will also be events, labs, screenings, readings and masterclasses across the nations and regions.

The £3m annually is double the amount previously available. That amount includes £1.8m per year to Creative England to deliver Its new talent strategies, including its two new centres in Sheffield and Brighton plus its shorts scheme iShorts as well as other support for emerging talents.

All the nations will get a boost from the NET.WORK to add new talent support mechanisms in addition to their existing offerings. Creative Scotland and the Film Agency for Wales each get £200,000 from the BFI to expand new talent support (with funding matched locally by each) and Northern Ireland Screen gets £150,000. The rest of the funding is divided among other NET.WORK partners – with more to be confirmed in coming months.

In 2014, the NET.WORK will launch a website that will be a showcase for rising filmmakers’ works as well as providing access to executives and industry information.

There will be an annual NET.WORKER event to bring together filmmakers from across the country, with the first one slated for 2014.

“There’s more money, and more people, and there will be a greater focus of resources, including energy and time, for new and emerging filmmakers,” BFI Film Fund Director Ben Roberts told Screen. “It’s a more collaborative approach.”

He continued: “The understandable view of filmmakers who have yet to break in is that there is a Soho Ivory Tower that feels impenetrable. This quite dramatically reverses that approach.”

With this more ‘decentralised’ approach, non-London filmmakers can benefit, Creative England Head of Film Chris Moll noted. “We needed to shift the centre of gravity for new talent out of London,” he said.

“The whole principle of the network is more about sharing information about who’s doing what,” Moll added. “It’s not like the old regional screen agencies that might have been fighting against each other.”

The BFI itself will not directly fund shorts and won’t fund development for most first features. But the BFI will continue to back first features with production funding when appropriate. “Strong intelligence will come out of the network for people gearing up for first features, and then they could come for us for first feature production funding,” Roberts said (NET.WORK funding won’t guarantee future Film Fund support, however.)

England plan

In England, Creative England has partnered with the BFI to establish talent centres in Brighton (headed by Celine Haddad with development executive Peter Parker) and Sheffield (headed by Paul Ashton with development executive Jessica Loveland). They will manage talent from across the UK, including select filmmakers from London, and will run the iShorts short film scheme aimed at new filmmakers.

Sheffield was seen as a good fit because of companies like Warp Films and its links to the north. Brighton was seen as more convenient for London and Southern filmmakers as well as its lively cultural scene.

“In an ideal world we’d have four or five centres, but we’re starting with these two,” Moll noted. “The centres will evolve, it’s more about the team….we need them to be based somewhere. They will be visible across the UK.”

Roberts added that other discipline-based centres, such as for documentaries or writing, could be added in months and years to come.

Creative England also has offices in Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol.

iShorts is the entry-level shorts scheme that Creative England is launching (applications for the first round are open today). It will give £5,000 in funding to 20 shorts in each round.  For more emerging talents, there is no creative England set ‘scheme,’ but a portfolio of support that can be tailored to each individual (that support will be capped at £30,000 per project). (The executives noted that ‘new’ filmmakers will be generally defined as those who haven’t had any professional projects made, and ‘emerging’ filmmakers would be those who have worked professional but still not made a feature film that has been launched theatrically.)

The BFI will be involved in funding decisions with Creative England; as Moll says, “We have a joint signoff on who we’ll support but ultimately we (Creative England) will get final say.”

Brighton and Sheffield aren’t seen as hubs, just centres where the teams will be based. “We’re one team looking at all projects,” Haddad said.

Ashton added: “There is no North or South remit. We can match any executive with any filmmaker.” For instance, a Sheffield-based filmmaker could find an affinity with an executive working in Brighton.

He continued: “It’s a really great opportunity to say it’s not just London-centric. We’re going to come to wherever the talent is. Wherever you re based, we’ll work with you.” The team will go on regular roadshows to key cities.

Ashton noted: “It’s getting really talented people ready to make their first feature. That’s what the real thrust of it is.”

London won’t be ignored, assures Deborah Sathe, Head of Talent at Film London. “London has the best talent in the country because that’s where the industry has the most job opportunities,” she says. Film London’s two short schemes are the entry-level London Calling, backing up to 20 low-budget shorts annually, and London Calling Plus, backing up to five higher-budget shorts (with around £15,000 each) by black and Asian minority ethnic filmmakers per year.

“They are on their way to making their first features, but in a safe environment to make their short film,” Sathe added. Some London-based filmmakers (emerging level especially) will also be eligible for Creative England backing.

Plans for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

In Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Screen will continue to offer its own funding for short films and feature film pilots, plus it will kick off the new Breaking In initiative. Breaking In will showcase Northern Ireland-based writers, directors and producers to key London-based producers and agents, via readings and networking events.

In Scotland, the BFI Film Fund will continue to provide support for new Scottish filmmakers until the Scottish NET.WORK plans come into play in 2014 after the current Scottish film policy review. An external organisation is expected to be appointed to manage the NET.WORK initiatives in Scotland.

In Wales, the Film Agency For Wales continues its own development and production support for Wales-born filmmakers as well as through new NET.WORK activities including mentoring, labs, talent showcases, script readings and networking. In addition, Wales will launch its first short film scheme for new Welsh talent. The agency will appoint a dedicated executive for its NET.WORK activities.

More information on the NET.WORK can be found at