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After unveiling plans for the project in late 2020, the British government and British Film Institute has now formally launched the U.K. Global Screen Fund.
The one year pilot fund — put at 7 million pounds ($9.7 million) — is effectively aimed at partially replacing Creative Europe’s MEDIA funding, which the U.K. lost access to following the completion of the Brexit transition period Dec. 31, 2020, and is “designed to boost international development and distribution opportunities for the U.K.’s independent screen sector,” according to the BFI.
Financed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and administered by the BFI, the fund will target support across film, TV, animation, documentary and video games, and will funnel investment through three key strands: supporting sales and distribution for U.K. films internationally, supporting business strategies driving international growth and supporting international co-productions.
“Today’s announcement of the 7 million pounds pilot U.K. Global Screen Fund will deliver a vital boost to the U.K.’s exceptional independent screen sector by stimulating international partnerships and generating new export opportunities,” said BFI CEO, Ben Roberts. “As we look to this weekend’s Oscars, and the incredible lineup of U.K., nominees, it’s clear our screen industries continue to punch above their weight internationally, and contribute significantly to the U.K. economy. It’s vital we continue to build on the global impact of our diverse and brilliant independent screen content, enabling the creativity and success for which the U.K. is so renowned.”
Others to throw their weight behind the fund include David Parfitt, the Oscar-winning Shakespeare in Love producer, currently nominated for The Father, who said the business development aspect was “particularly attractive” to a company such as his Trademark Films.
“It would allow us to engage and compete on more equal terms with other global independent production companies, allowing us to take further risks and giving a welcome boost for international success,” he said.
Meanwhile, James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli described how independent film was the “bedrock” behind the immense levels of creativity in U.K. filmmaking, adding that the fund would “help support that creativity and allow audiences all over the world to enjoy it.”
The pilot U.K. Global Screen Fund is being led by Neil Peplow, director of international affairs at the BFI.
Alongside financial support for U.K screen businesses, the fund will also drive and fund a new international promotional campaign, while further investment will support research into a new data hub providing international data to the industry.
Companies eligible for the U.K. Global Screen Fund will be able to apply for the international distribution strand from April 28, the business development funding from May and the co-production funding from June.
Despite the positivity surrounding the newly launched initiative, there’s likely to be some disappointment that the government wasn’t able to provide a bigger pot of money. In 2018, the U.K. received $14.5 million in MEDIA funding and the BFI has initially been calling for $22.8 million, highlighting how MEDIA funding has aided both U.K. exhibition and distribution and British films in Europe for more than a decade. It argued that the sector would likely shrink by 10 percent, costing up to 1,200 jobs, with no replacement arranged.
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