BFI logo 2020

Source: BFI

The BFI has launched a £500,000 ($625,000) fund to support UK sales companies impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The BFI Covid-UK Sales Company Organisational Fund will award up to £25,000 ($31,000) per company and aims to support firms hit by costs arising directly from new models of working, which are emerging as a result of the virus crisis in relation to film sales and distribution.

The fund launches today and the deadline to apply for support, which the BFI is allocating from National Lottery money, is August 2, 2020. This time limited fund is to cover costs that cannot be covered by funds available from the UK government or other sources.

While UK cinemas began reopening on Saturday (July 4) and production is moving towards restarting, sales companies have been hit by the impact on international markets, which have been cancelled or moved online such as the recent virtual Cannes market.

Operating in a fully digital environment requires sales companies to develop different ways of marketing, selling and acquiring product, and requires access to new digital and IT processes, which incurs costs.

“We are committed to supporting the Government’s ambitious export targets and ensuring a globally competitive UK film market,” said BFI CEO Ben Roberts. “As a vital part of the value chain, sales companies connect a film with a global audience, and deliver back to the rights holders the resulting international revenues.

“Enabling them to evolve their business model in this period of rapid change for the industry, so they can more effectively and efficiently marketing UK films in the competitive international marketplace, is paramount to their trading and our overall film landscape.”

The BFI’s Film Export Fund remains open to applications to support UK titles selected to premiere at eligible festivals (including virtual editions). The BFI’s International Fund has also supported the first virtual UK Film Centre at Cannes, which offered business and collaboration opportunities; enabled selected UK producers to participate in the Producer’s Network scheme; and promoted the UK film sector as part of the international industry.

The BFI previously established a package of support for individuals, organisations and businesses across the sector that have been most impacted by Covid-19 and is also continuing to work with industry and government to develop and implement a sector-wide strategy for recovery.

Initiatives that have resulted from the work of the BFI’s Screen Sector Task Force and members include creating guidance for film and television production to restart and cinemas to reopen, both given the greenlight by government and Public Health England.

Further work continues around measures needed to support independent production and exhibition including insurance and the costs of recovery for the sector in trying to restart.