BFI Film Fund

Welcome to the BFI Film Fund. We are the film production heart of the BFI, and the largest public film fund in the UK.

We invest over £26m of Lottery funds per year to support film development, production and distribution activity in the UK and the budget is set to rise to £30m by 2017.

Our aim is to champion a breadth of bold and distinctive filmmaking across the UK; to nurture new talent; and to back the development, production and distribution of films that will enrich UK film culture and define the UK and its storytellers in the 21st century.

We welcome applications for film projects in all genres, and we are committed to promoting diversity in the filmmakers we support, the stories they tell and the audiences they reach.

20,000 Days on Earth (2014) received production funding from the BFI Film Fund.

20,000 Days on Earth (2014) received production funding from the BFI Film Fund.

We also support independent UK distributors to help ensure that the best British and specialised films connect with a wide range of audiences across a range of platforms. We support sales companies that are launching new UK films at key international film festivals and markets.

On these pages you will find information regarding all our activities and how to apply for funding.

If you have a query about the Film Fund, you can contact us by emailing or calling us on 020 7173 3232.

We provide funding for:

  • Feature film production, including international co-production and completion funding
  • Feature film development, principally script development
  • Talent development (including funding for short films) via the BFI NET.WORK
  • Feature documentaries
  • Production company slate development, via the Vision Awards
  • Digital and cross-media activity
  • Distribution of feature films in the UK
  • International sales of UK feature films and other film export activities

Applications can be made to the Film Fund at any time, and you should expect to receive an initial response from us within six to eight weeks.

To make an application, visit the BFI Film Fund application website.

Quick links

Development funding – recent changes

As of August 2013, the Film Fund only accepts live action, fictional feature film development applications from filmmakers who have already had a feature film produced and theatrically distributed. Please note we still accept development funding applications for Animated Films and Documentaries from filmmakers who have yet to make their first feature.

For emerging filmmakers seeking development funding for their live action feature film, we have launched the BFI NET.WORK – a new UK-wide talent development programme in partnership with National Screen Agencies, helping new and emerging filmmakers to reach their full potential.

All live action applications for development funding from emerging talent (i.e. if the writer and/or director attached to your project has yet to have a feature film produced and released) should now be made directly to the NET.WORK.

More information on the NET.WORK, and how and where to apply to, is available here. Please note this it is a different application process from the Film Fund system detailed below.

Production and development funding

We make in the region of 25 major production awards each year and provide development support for approximately 100 feature projects.

We welcome production applications from new and established filmmakers. Priority will be given to projects and filmmaking teams that demonstrate a bold vision and creative excellence, and that are unlikely to be fully financed by the marketplace.

We cannot fully finance the production of a feature film, regardless of the budget, and therefore most applications requesting full financing, or full financing except for the UK film tax relief, will be rejected automatically.

First features

Given the volume of applications we receive from emerging directors, we now make decisions on production awards for first features, where the budget is likely to be under £2,000,000, in quarterly funding rounds.

Applications can be made at any point, but will only be assessed after the quarterly deadline for submission has passed. Upcoming deadline dates, and more information about the process, can be found on our first features page.

Gone Too Far! (2013), Destiny Ekaragha’s first feature, was awarded development and production funding by the BFI Film Fund.

Gone Too Far! (2013), Destiny Ekaragha’s first feature, was awarded development and production funding by the BFI Film Fund.

Projects from directors who have previously made a feature-length film on a very low or micro budget, or an otherwise unreleased film, might still be considered through this process.

Low-budget films

We receive applications for projects at many different budget levels. When reviewing applications for very low-budget films, we will take into account whether we think the budget you have submitted is reasonable and realistic, and we expect you to ensure that your film is produced in accordance with all applicable UK laws, including those relating to cast and crew payments.

Find out more about iFeatures, our low-budget partnership with Creative England, Creative Skillset and BBC Films.

Feature documentaries

We are committed to supporting feature documentaries that are intended for a theatrical release. In a partnership with Sheffield Doc/Fest, we now consider projects from documentary filmmakers through twice-yearly pitching sessions – Sheffield in June and London in December – where a shortlist of applicants will be asked to present their projects to a panel of Film Fund executives and industry experts.

Any filmmakers wishing to apply for production funding for documentaries should read visit our documentary production funding page for upcoming dates, and note that their application to the Film Fund will be handled through this new process.

Dreams of a Life (2011)

Dreams of a Life (2011)

Talent development and short films

In September, we launched the BFI NET.WORK – our UK-wide network for emerging talent, which aims to discover and develop new and emerging voices, enabling them to realise their potential and ultimately prepare them for their first feature.

The BFI NET.WORK connects the work of the BFI’s funded partners, including the UK’s screen agencies, which will nurture promising writers and directors who have yet to have a film produced and/or released, through a hands-on and holistic approach. This work includes developing and funding short films at various degrees of filmmaker experience and budget; commissioning and funding feature pilots; and developing and funding new writing.

Creative England runs two talent centres in Brighton and Sheffield, and Creative Scotland, Northern Ireland Screen and the Film Agency for Wales run complementary activity. Other NET.WORK partners, such as Film London, Aardman and 104 Films, will run bespoke activity. The NET.WORK will host regular screenings, readings, masterclasses and other networking events across the country, and a talent campus will bring filmmakers together to share work, experience and information.

Early in 2014 we will launch a dedicated online discovery platform as part of the network, which will allow filmmakers to upload new work (shorts and writing) and be discovered, interact with the Film Fund and other industry professionals, and learn more about funding opportunities. This online platform will provide a unique and innovative route to securing development support and funding.

From now on, all filmmakers who have yet to make a feature film must seek development support through the NET.WORK, but the Film Fund will continue to provide production support for first-time directors.

Find out more about the BFI NET.WORK.

International co-productions

We allocate some of our funds to co-production awards, to support UK co-productions where the majority of the creative input comes from one of the UK’s partner countries.

Priority will be given to projects where:

  • A world-class, non-British filmmaker wishes to engage with UK talent or cultural content
  • UK involvement enhances the international appeal of an exceptional project that has been originated outside of the UK
  • An international project gives an opportunity to an outstanding, emerging talent from the UK.

Applications for co-production funding are made in the usual way, as per the Film Fund’s production awards. Films supported in this way would still need to qualify as a British film as set out in our guidelines.

The co-production funding is not intended for documentaries, which will be considered through the documentary pitching strand.

Completion funding

Please note that we have recently changed our policy on completion funding.

Following a review of our process for completion funding, we will now only consider applications from films that have been invited to launch at a major international film festival but need additional funding to be completed prior to their festival screening.

As festival selectors are used to looking at films at an incomplete stage, such as those with temp mix and grade, we don’t offer completion funding in order to prepare a film for festival submission, only once it has been accepted.

We will not consider completion funding for projects where a sales or distribution company is one of the film’s financial partners, as in such cases we would expect the completion of the film to be covered by the film’s existing commercial partners.

Applications should be made through the Film Fund’s regular application mechanism and we will consider the application first before deciding whether or not to request the film.

Film distributors looking for support for the UK release of the film should consider applying to our Distribution Fund.

Sales agents looking for support for promoting the film at the festival should consider applying to our Film Export Fund.

Please also note, documentaries that are still being assembled and have additional shooting requirements may be eligible to apply for our documentary production funding strand.

Here is our list of major international film festivals:

Annecy (Animation)
Fantastic Fest
Hong Kong
Karlovy Vary
Pusan International Film Festival
Rome Film Festival
San Sebastian
Sitges International
Sheffield Doc/Fest
South by Southwest
Tokyo Film Festival
Tribeca Film Festival

Digital and cross-media projects

We provide development support and distribution funding for select digital and cross-media projects developed tangentially to the film, and which aim to increase the scope for audience engagement with the film.

Awards might include funding for the production of concepts, such as a series of characters that might be exploited in an animated feature, or in a game environment and/or for the promotion of the film. A recent example is the digital companion project for Ken Loach’s documentary The Spirit of ’45 – My ’45 (, which began development during the film’s post-production.

The Spirit of ’45 (2013)

The Spirit of ’45 (2013)

By funding these selected test cases, we will explore whether creating digital content around a film can increase audience interaction pre- and post-release; and ultimately see if this approach could have a positive impact on the film’s value and provide new innovative business models.

Applications for projects should either be made by the producer at the film’s development stage through the Film Fund’s regular application mechanism or, if the film is at the post-production stage, through the Distribution Fund New Models strand.

Strengthening the UK production sector

The terms and conditions of our funding for single film projects are set out in the Film Fund guidelines. These include a number of initiatives aimed at supporting the UK production sector, and enabling UK film businesses to be less reliant on Lottery support.

Recycling Development Awards to the Producer

We recycle 100% of the money that is recouped by the BFI from an investment in development (up to a maximum of £100,000 per project) and make it available to the successful applicant in question for future investment in its further filmmaking activities (subject to certain conditions).

BFI Producer Corridor Entitlement and Producer Equity Entitlement

A percentage share (a blended rate of 37.5%) of the BFI’s recouped income is made available to the production team for future investment in its further film activities. As set out in Film Forever, allocations of this income share are subject to an agreement to be reached between PACT, DUK and WGGB and to approval by the European Commission of an amendment to the existing scheme.

We also promote a Producer Equity Entitlement, where the value of the advance against the UK film tax relief is treated as the producer’s own equity in the film. Both provisions are certain to subject conditions (more details can be provided if your project is selected for production funding).

Joint Venture Partnerships

We are running a Joint Venture (JV) pilot scheme to encourage UK producers and UK distributors to align their interests more closely. Subject to certain conditions, a portion of the proposed BFI production award on a limited number of titles will be available to the producer to be used as up to a 50% contribution towards the UK distributor’s minimum guarantee. In return for sharing the distribution risk, the distributor would allow a share of its net revenues to be paid to the BFI and advanced to the producer for investment in future filmaking.

Vision Awards

The Film Fund’s Vision Awards scheme enables production companies to build their development slates with creative and financial autonomy. The awards provide resources to enable companies to focus on the development of their slate, which will allow them to strengthen their company profile. Vision Awards funding runs for two years, with the current round for 2013/14 closed, and a further round anticipated for 2015/16. Any such awards are repayable to the BFI from the production companies’ future film productions.

You can read more about the 20 production companies on our Vision Awards page.

Support for UK distributors and international sales

The BFI Distribution Fund supports access to, and awareness of, high-quality British independent and specialised films in order to boost audience choice and to enrich film culture UK-wide.

The nationwide release of The Selfish Giant (2013) was supported by the Distribution Fund.

The nationwide release of The Selfish Giant (2013) was supported by the Distribution Fund.

Read more about the BFI Film Fund: Distribution Fund.

The Film Export Fund is a springboard for UK film exports. It is designed to help UK films make sales abroad at significant international festivals and markets. The Fund can help sales agents with a film’s publicity and marketing, as well as with the technical and logistical costs of appearing at a high-profile festival.

God Help the Girl (2014) has received support through the Film Export Fund.

God Help the Girl (2014) has received support through the Film Export Fund.

Read more about the BFI Film Fund: Film Export Funding.

A word on feedback

We make every effort to ensure that our application process is fair and as transparent as possible. Sadly, given the volume of applications we receive, we are not able to provide feedback on projects that we have decided not to progress.

Read more

  • Joint Venture Scheme

    Joint Venture Scheme

    A scheme to encourage UK distributors and producers to form strategic partnerships.

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