British Film Institute’s five-year plan on Brexit, diversity

The British Film Institute has unveiled a strategic plan to invest £500 million (US$620 million) into the UK film industry over the next five years. During an event in Birmingham on ...
November 30, 2016

The British Film Institute has unveiled a strategic plan to invest £500 million (US$620 million) into the UK film industry over the next five years.

During an event in Birmingham on Tuesday (Nov. 29), BFI chair Josh Berger and CEO Amanda Nevill explained that the plan, dubbed BFI2022, will partly focus on increasing in-house expertise to better position the industry during the country’s Brexit negotiations to leave the European Union.

Building on the BFI1′s Film Forever plan, the 2017-2022 strategy’s other primary goals include shifting focus to fund more filmmaking not necessarily destined for theatrical releases, and aspire to greater diversity on screen and behind the scenes by pushing producers to adopt voluntary diversity standards.

To grow film capabilities outside London, the BFI will devolve 25% of all production to decision makers outside the capital to support emerging filmmakers across the UK. This will include placing a regional network of talent executives in key cultural venues and piloting a £10 million Enterprise Fund to provide repayable working capital for innovative projects in smaller shops working across the screen industries outside London.

“We have to keep pace with competition and navigate through a completely new world order following the decision to exit the EU,” the BFI said in a statement, adding it will “undertake a review of production services in the UK and make sure we remain the best country in the world to make films, and a review of production infrastructure to identify priorities for future investment and growth.”

The £500 million is made up of financing from Government Grant-in-Aid, BFI earned income and National Lottery funding and will go toward areas such as audiences and culture, film education, skills development and production support.

Though feature film remains core to the BFI mission, the organization is looking to use National Lottery funds to back more episodic, hour-long and other non-feature work including animation, digital work and interactive work. It will also introduce a new model to fully finance low-budget projects and debut films, as well as support for distributors for these types of projects.

The BFI will also digitize at least 100,000 hours of “at-risk” British TV shows including documentary series such as Rainbow City, A Superstition, Eastern Eye and Nationwide, as well as drama, children’s and morning show programming currently held on obsolete formats.

Regarding diversity, the BFI will build on current initiatives such as the BFI Diversity Standards and public programs Black Star and Black Britain on Film by launching 10-year skills building strategies for people of all backgrounds, work with producers so they can adopt the BFI Diversity Standards and devote programming to women and explorations of British Asian and Black British life.

The organization is also creating a manifesto for film in the classroom and launching a searchable, interactive database of British feature films.

Film Forever, the BFI’s previous five-year plan, covered 2012-2017 and saw the establishment of film clubs in nearly 10,000 schools and the introduction of the BFI Film Audience Network, BFI Film Academy and VOD platform BFI Player which increased public access to the BFI National Archive with the digitization of 10,000 unseen titles.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor-in-chief and content director for Realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to Realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.