British Film Institute Sets COVID-19 Support Fund for Sales Companies

Photographed by Charlie Gray
BFI CEO Ben Roberts

The $625,000 fund will help sales companies adapt to new business practices, such as virtual markets.

With the recent Cannes Virtual Market leading the charge of new-look online-only film markets — likely to become the norm until the novel coronavirus pandemic comes under control — the British Film Institute has introduced a new fund to help sales companies adapt. 

The £500,000 ($625,000) BFI COVID-UK Sales Company Organizational Fund, launched Monday, will offer up to £25,000 ($31,000) per company to support costs arising directly from new models of working that are emerging as a result of the pandemic to film sales and distribution.

Applications will be open for four weeks from Monday, with the money to be used to cover costs that can't already be covered by funds from the U.K. government or other sources. 

"We are committed to supporting the government's ambitious export targets and ensuring a globally competitive U.K. film market," said Ben Roberts, CEO at the BFI, which already has put in place a package of financial support measure for individuals, organizations and business across the sector. "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 market U.K. films in the competitive international marketplace, is paramount to their trading and our overall film landscape."

The new fund arrives a day after the British government announced a £1.57 billion ($1.96 billion) emergency support fund for the U.K.'s arts industry, which has been critically hit by the crisis and is facing widespread closures and job losses.