The Brit 50

Source: Screen File

Welcome to The Brit 50, Screen International’s survey of the independent UK-based production companies actively engaged in originating, developing and producing feature films for both local and international distribution.

While we aimed to keep our criteria simple and straightforward in drawing up this list, the industry of course is anything but those things in 2018. It has become an exponentially more complicated world to navigate since 2010, which is the last time we spotlighted The Brit 50.

Scroll down for the full line-up

Back then, we featured distributors, a sales agent and broadcast divisions BBC Films and Film4 on our list. In pulling together our Brit 50 this time, we decided to keep the focus on the independent production companies, and their accompanying producers, whose primary business is developing and producing original projects, rather than also being involved in the financing, selling or distribution of them.

In the UK, as the world of independent film grows increasingly precarious, more companies are looking to board IP at the earliest stage possible, in order to participate more fully in the success at the other end. Sales companies such as Independent have been producing for years, while others including Protagonist, HanWay, Cornerstone, Bankside and Embankment are increasingly moving into production in order to have a better position on projects and get in on the good ones earlier.

Distributors including Lionsgate, Altitude, Vertigo, eOne and Entertainment Film Distributors are also actively engaged in this, while Studiocanal has indicated a stronger push towards production and away from distribution with its recent activities. Pathé UK, meanwhile, occupies a unique position, often sourcing material that it can develop in-house before attaching a filmmaker, while also boarding later on in the process as a financier and executive producer with projects brought to it by third-party producers.

Element Pictures was another company we strongly considered. Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe’s outfit has produced films including The Favourite and Disobedience out of the UK in the last two years, and they have a creative outpost in London. We decided not to feature them in the end, however, since the majority of their operations are run out of Ireland.

As for the UK’s major public funders — BBC Films, Film4, the BFI — they remain the bedrock of UK independent film production. As well as being new-talent incubators, they nurture with significant funding and creative input the vast majority of independent UK films that go on to make an impression on the festival and theatrical circuit or as cultural or awards touchstones.

Anyone who still has our 2010 Brit 50 list sitting on their desks will notice a few names who featured then that aren’t part of our 2018 line-up. Many have segued to new companies; some informed us their focus is almost exclusively on television these days (and the fluidity of working between the two also marks many of the companies on this list, another sea change from 2010); one is taking a personal sabbatical; and another high-profile name asked not to be included given their sporadic output.

But as well as the companies and names we all know, who have been so instrumental in creating a dynamic UK production landscape, there are also exciting new faces on this year’s Brit 50 who will fly the flag for UK filmmaking in years to come. Some of these we have included in ‘Watch This Space’, live on Screen later this week, a list that also shines a spotlight on a few distinguished industry figures venturing into pastures new.

Any list is subjective, of course, but we feel confident this Brit 50 is reflective of activity, intent, ambition and acclaim. If we had created this list a year earlier or six months hence, it may have shaped up differently, but this is our snapshot of this particular moment in time.

For profiles of all 50 companies, click on the links below.

The Brit 50

Company profiles by Ben Dalton, Charles Gant, Tom Grater, Geoffrey Macnab, Wendy Mitchell, Orlando Parfitt and Louise Tutt.

This story first appeared in the print edition of Screen International. Click here to subscribe