Coronavirus: BFI Unveils $5.7M Support for U.K. Exhibitors, Freelancers, Producers

Ben Roberts
Photographed by Charlie Gray

Ben Roberts

The organization also said its $27 million worth of filmmakers funds will remain in place, with some having their criteria tweaked to offer more flexibility amid the pandemic.

The British Film Institute on Thursday unveiled an array of financial measures aimed at assisting an industry ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, including a £4.6 ($5.7 million) package for exhibitors, freelancers and producers. 

The support scheme was announced by CEO Ben Roberts, who said that the impact of the COVID-19 crisis has been devastating and far reaching. 

"We are part of a community of innovative and talented creatives working across the entire value chain," he said. "We are committed to supporting the individuals, organizations and businesses who have been most impacted by COVID-19, and we have developed a program of support, which sits alongside the government’s extensive fiscal package."

From a $5.7 million pot repurposed from the U.K.'s National Lottery Funding, £2 million ($2.5 million) would be allocated to the BFI Film Continuation Fund and made available to independent U.K. productions interrupted by the crisis to help cover unexpected additional production costs and ensure productions are in the best position to resume production when practical.

Another £1.3 million ($1.6 million) has been set aside for the BFI Fan COVID-19 Resilience Fund, offering critical relief to exhibitors across the U.K. Meanwhile, £800,000 ($990,000) has been made available for BFI-funded features that were interrupted due to the COVID-19 restrictions to ensure those employed were paid two weeks' notice.

As previously announced, the BFI has contributed £500,000 ($620,000) to the COVID-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund, offering support to active workers and freelancers hit by the virus and set up by the BFI and The Film and TV Charity. 

Alongside these financial packages, the BFI has also adjusted the criteria of its £2.5 million ($3.1 million) development fund, offering greater flexibility in the scheduling of payments and frontloading fees. 

Other key BFI filmmaker funds, including the Production Funding, Vision Awards and Young Audience Content Funds, are still fully active and open for business. Roberts said its existing funds for shorts, features and talent development totaled £21.9 million ($27 million) for 2020/2021. 

"Our world-leading screen sector is at the cultural heart of the nation and is one of our greatest success stories," said Creative Industries Minister Caroline Dinenage. "It is fantastic to see the BFI taking a strong lead in helping those in the industry struggling in these difficult times. Together with the government's unprecedented financial support package, these measures will help ensure that the sector continues to thrive and is well placed to recover as quickly as possible."