The BFI has announced a programme of support worth £4.6m ($5.7m) to aid the UK film sector, which has been badly affected by the Covid-19 crisis.
The re-purposed National Lottery funding will target specific areas of the sector including exhibitors, freelancers and producers. It comprises:
£2m BFI film continuation fund
Up to £2m ($2.5m) will be made available to independent UK productions interrupted by Covid-19 to help cover unexpected production costs and ensure productions can resume production when practical.
£1.3m BFI FAN Covid-19 resilience fund
The organisation has repurposed the BFI Film Audience Network’s (FAN) National Lottery activity funding to offer relief to exhibitors across the UK. Opening next week, applications will be via local Film Hubs.
£500,000 contribution to the Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund
In partnership with The Film and TV Charity, this fund (now open for applications) offers support to workers and freelancers working across production, distribution and exhibition, providing one-off grants between £500 and £2,500. Other organisations to contribute include Netflix, the BBC and WarnerMedia.
£800,000 for BFI-funded features
This is for current BFI-funded features that were interrupted due to restrictions put in place to curb the spread of coronavirus. As contracts were abruptly cut short, the funds ensured those employed were paid two weeks’ notice.
BFI-funded projects will be given flexibility on the scheduling of payments to support cash flow, and on delivery against activity targets. This applies to the 28 exhibitors, festivals, distributors and archives who received £3.8m ($4.7m) through the Audience Fund Organisational Awards in March.
The BFI has also adjusted its criteria on existing schemes. This includes the annual £2.5m ($3.1m) Development Fund, which now offers greater flexibility in the scheduling of payments and frontloading fees, and can now cash flow funds up to 80% for each step.
A portion of BFI Locked Box funds, previously only accessible for future project development, production or training, will now be made available to support overheads to help protect businesses during the next six months.
All of the BFI’s existing funds for shorts, features and talent development funds – which total £21.9m ($27.2m) in 2020/21 - are still operating, including production funding; the £2m ($2.5m) Vision Awards, set to be announced this month; and the Young Audience Content Fund.
In a statement, BFI chief executive Ben Roberts said: “The impact of the Covid-19 crisis has been devastating and far reaching, and we are working with colleagues across the industry to support those who have been hardest hit, and ensuring that we thrive as we recover.
“We remain in close collaboration with government and a wide range of partners through the Screen Sector Task Force, through which we have already helped to shape measures introduced to support our industry. The government has been really supportive throughout this process, and while this vital work continues, we are also focused on developing a strategy for our recovery.”