BBC commits $1.3 million to boost UK indies, preps Harry Potter nature special

UK pubcaster the BBC has laid out measures to help support the UK’s small and emerging indie producers. The new program is designed to help boost the strength of UK production ...
January 8, 2020

UK pubcaster the BBC has laid out measures to help support the UK’s small and emerging indie producers.

The new program is designed to help boost the strength of UK production in the context of global competition and producer consolidation, with a strong focus on diverse and out-of-London producers.

The measures include a £1 million (US$1.3 million) pot, the Small Indie Fund, to support small and emerging companies, defined as outfits with turnovers of less than £10 million per annum under the new scheme.

The BBC will tailor support packages to help selected companies grow according to their specific needs, determined company by company, with some promising companies being fast-tracked with a commissioning mentor, development deal, and targeted commissioning opportunities.

Commissioners responsible for out-of-London projects and companies with diverse leadership will have priority access to this funding to stimulate and strengthen ideas and new talent across the UK, and forge closer creative relationships throughout the industry.

Support may take the form of tailored cash flow terms, shared risk arrangements agreed upon upfront and assistance in securing third-party investment, if required.

“We’ve listened to the sector and understand the pressures small indies face in this fast changing global landscape. Small indies are a vital part of the UK’s creative industry and crucially deliver content that speaks to British audiences,” said Charlotte Moore, BBC director of content, in a statement. “We recognize how valuable they are to the ecology and this additional support will enable them to compete more effectively.”

In other BBC news, BBC1 is tracing the origins of the mythical creatures from author J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter universe in the 60-minute documentary Fantastic Beasts: A Natural History (w/t), fronted by English actor — and Harry Potter audiobook narrator — Stephen Fry.

Fantastic Beasts: A Natural History will draw parallels between the fictional creatures and real world animals — from the 11,000 year-old woolly rhino to Rowling’s “Erumpent.”

The special is produced in partnership with Warner Bros. and London’s Natural History Museum. The museum’s Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature exhibition, opening this spring, will be featured in the film.

Fantastic Beasts: A Natural History will take viewers behind the scenes at Warner Bros. Studios and through the “hidden corridors” of the Natural History Museum. It will also include footage from the BBC Natural History Unit’s archive content and scenes from the Fantastic Beasts narrative feature films.

Charlotte Moore commissioned the documentary. It is produced by the BBC Studios Natural History Unit and Warner Bros Entertainment UK. Mike Gunton serves as executive producer.

With files from Jillian Morgan and Frederick Blichert

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news editor at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joined the RS team in 2015 with experience in journalism following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and with communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.