In an effort to help UK film companies navigate their way through the brave new world of digital, the UK Film Council (Ukfc) has teamed up with the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta) to create Take 12. It is a digital innovation programme designed to encourage independent UK film companies to embrace digital technology and make money.
"We selected a broad range of companies, from production companies to sales agents and distributors, to VoD start-ups," says Peter Buckingham, head of distribution at the Ukfc.
"This programme is not just about investing in companies, it is about conducting an experiment the film industry can learn from."
"The timing was right," explains Nesta's creative economy director Jon Kingsbury. "The BBC had launched the iPlayer, we noticed that more people were downloading and piracy was becoming more of an issue. It was a case of what could Nesta and the UK Film Council do to experiment with digital distribution."
The programme pairs 12 film businesses, including Metrodome Distribution, Revolver Films, Warp Films and onedotzero, with two "innovation partners" made up of digital consultancy experts.
The two partners are allocating an estimated $62,000 (£40,000) worth of their time to each company.
"Any film company in the UK should be able to find, partially at least, a match with one of the businesses on this programme," says Richard Ellis, co-founder of strategic consultancy firm MTM London. It has teamed with multi-platform production company Illumina Digital to form one of the innovation partners responsible for six of the businesses.
"We hope by the end, each of these businesses will be able to stand up and say, 'This is what we have learned,'" says Vanessa Arden-Wood of Illumina Digital.
The second innovation partner is Huge Entertainment, a UK digital entertainment agency working with the other six businesses.
"The great thing about this project is that it gives smaller companies access to a much larger scope of thinking, deal-making and connections than they would normally have," says Morgan Holt, a director at Huge.
The programme also includes a series of workshops where all the companies come together, the first of which took place in July.
"There is no room for competitiveness. Part of the proviso is that they are completely up for it. And that means sharing ideas," says Nesta's Kingsbury.
"These 12 businesses are digital pioneers," adds Buckingham. "We have a live laboratory going on where we can all peer in and see the results."
- For ongoing coverage of Nesta and the UK Film Council's digital innovation in film programme, go to www.ScreenDaily.com.