One of the challenges for any filmmaker is finding the funds to make your project. Today’s post is a list of UK film funds that offer grants and support that can help make your film a reality.

I’ll add to this and keep it updated as I come across new opportunities. All the headings are links to the respective organisations, so click through for more information.

*Now with added tax breaks.

BFI

The godfather of British film and a regular presence on the cinema screen for UK theatrical films. The BFI Film Fund has a range of schemes supporting UK film makers.

They offer funding for first time directors making features under £2 million. The deadline for this year has closed, but it’s worth keeping track of them on Twitter to keep updated with their schemes.

There’s also production funding for documentary features and support available for international co-productions. Short films are funded through BFI NET.WORK which is a joint effort across the UK film creative agencies. 

For some interesting background, check out Stephen Follow’s post on short films funded by the BFI between 2011 – 2014. He has a breakdown of which films were funded and how much they were awarded, which might help you with your own application.

Creative England

Creative England offer all kinds of support for emerging film makers, from short film funding to features. From their website:

Talent Centres – The Creative England Talent Centres are a key part of the BFI UK-wide NET.WORK, offering bespoke support for the next generation of new and emerging film directors, writers and producers. We fund short film production and feature film development in order to propel filmmaking talent towards their first feature.

Production Funding – Creative England manages two production investment funds: the Creative England Production Fund and the West Midlands Production Fund.

The Creative England Production Fund can invest between £50,000 and £200,000 in films budgeted below £2m, ideally made by regional filmmakers and filmed in the regions.

And the West Midlands Production Fund can invest between £100,000 to £500,000 of matched commercial equity in both films and TV – the aim being to encourage production in, and bring filmmakers to, the West Midlands region.

iFeatures – Low budget feature film development and production initiative aimed at supporting emerging talent and stories in the English regions outside of London. The initiative is funded by Creative England, BBC Films and BFI Film fund with the training element funded by Creative Skillset. Three films will be made on budgets of £350,000 each at the end of a year-long development process.

Enterprise – Film Enterprise works with film related businesses based out of London.  It offers made to measure programmes of support and funding to help companies improve their growth and sustainability.

Partnerships – Innovations and Partnerships works with companies who have innovative ideas for helping the film sector grow and develop outside London. It supports original projects with strong partnerships and a commitment to cross-sector collaboration.”

I’ve sat in on a few talks by the Creative England team and they’re really keen to find new voices and support regional films, by regional storytellers, set in the regions. There’s also a drive to support Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic talent (BAME). Competition is fierce for all of the grants, so your application needs to be detailed and comprehensive and really show who you are and why you want to tell your story.

Film London – Microwave

Film London’s fantastic micro budget feature film project offering £150,000 for feature film funding for emerging talent. Previous projects funded include Lilting, Shifty and Strawberry Fields.  The deadline for entries this year is Wednesday 30th July 2014. From the website:

“The new edition of the scheme will produce up to six features over three years, taking film-making teams through a funded development and training period, before going into production with budgets of £150,000, and with additional funding ring-fenced to support distribution.

As part of Film London’s commitment to championing diversity amongst London’s film-making community, we will undertake a comprehensive outreach programme for Microwave, with the ambition to long-list at least 50% BAME filmmakers.

This time round, Microwave will train up to 36 film-making teams over three years, who will undergo an intensive period of development to hone scripts, stories and skills in preparation for production. All applicants that make the longlist will have access to experienced industry mentors who will help them develop their project.

Two features from the first round will be commissioned and later green lit for production.”

BRITDOC

Documentary makers, BRITDOC is the organisation for you.

There’s the Bertha BRITDOC Connect Fund offering funds of £5000 – £50,000.

It “is the first European-based outreach and engagement fund, and is open to filmmakers from around the world. The fund is looking to support smart, strategic outreach campaigns for ambitious independent documentary films with a social issue at their core; films which have the ability to achieve real change on a local, regional or global level.” 

This year’s deadline for applications is now closed.

Then there’s the Bertha BRITDOC Documentary Journalism Fund, offering grants of £5000 – £50,000

They’re “supporting long form feature documentaries of a journalistic nature. We are looking for films that break the important stories of our time, expose injustice, bring attention to unreported issues and cameras into regions previously unseen”

BRITDOC Circle is by invitation only and is described as “a brand new film fund to support the very best artistic and journalistic films made by European filmmakers. A fund reflecting the voices and concerns of creative filmmakers from the European continent.A fund which complements existing international grantmakers, state funds and broadcast partners for maximum effectiveness.”

You can sign up for their newsletter to be kept updated.

The Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust is on a mission to support projects that:

  • stimulate interest, excitement and debate about biomedical science through high-quality, original artistic practice
  • examine the social, cultural and ethical contexts of biomedical science through the arts
  • encourage new ways of thinking
  • promote high-quality interdisciplinary practice and collaborations between arts, science and education practice
  • support formal and informal learning.

There’s Arts Awards for Small Arts Awards (small- to medium-sized projects – up to and including £30,000) and Large Arts Awards (larger projects – above £30,000),  People and Society Awards with People Awards (up to and including £30,000) and Society Awards (above £30,000) and Development Awards worth up to £10,000, for a maximum of one year.

“Your project must involve the creation of new artistic work and have biomedical scientific input into the process, either through a scientist taking on an advisory role or through direct collaboration.”

Deadlines for application are staggered through the year. See the links for details. 

This could have potential for documentaries and feature film projects. They’re a fantastic organisation and have some great exhibitions on which could serve as inspiration. 

IdeasTap

IdeasTap aren’t a funding body, but they do post regular opportunities for competitions, grants, workshops, jobs, and training on their Twitter feed. They’re a great aggregator for the creative industries.  A lot of their opportunities are youth focused for 16 – 24 years old, but it’s worth keeping an eye out in case there’s something that fits your project.

UK Film Tax Credit

Also not a funding body, but for films that qualify as British films either through passing the Cultural Test or as a co-production, the UK film tax credit can make up a significant chunk of your budget.

The tax credit also applies to high end television productions, animation and games and is one of the key draws for international productions coming to the UK. From the British Film Commission website, they break it down as follows:

Value of UK Film Tax Relief

  • For films with a total core expenditure of £20 million or less, the film production company can claim payable cash rebate of up to 25% of UK qualifying film production expenditure
  • For films with a core expenditure of more than £20 million, the film production company can claim a payable cash rebate of up to 25% of the first £20 million of qualifying UK expenditure, with the remaining qualifying UK expenditure receiving a 20% tax credit

Accessing UK Film Tax Relief

    • Tax relief is available for British qualifying films. Films must either pass the Cultural Test or qualify as an official co-production
    • Films must be intended for theatrical release
    • Films, including those made under official co-production treaties, must reach a minimum UK spend requirement of 10%
    • Tax relief is available on qualifying UK production expenditure on the lower of either – 80% of total core expenditure; or  the actual UK core expenditure incurred.
    • There is no cap on the amount which can be claimed
    • The FPC responsible for the film needs to be within the UK corporation tax net.”

Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS)

Continuing on the tax theme, SEIS and EIS are great ways to protect investors in your film. These are tax incentives set up by the government to encourage investment and can be applied to film production. We Are UK Film outlines how it works on their website:

“Indirect assistance is provided by the UK government to film, among many other sectors, in the form of the Enterprise Investment Scheme (“EIS”) and the more recently established Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (“SEIS”). These are tax incentives provided to UK tax payers to encourage them to invest in the production, and subsequent exploitation of a film.

EIS and SEIS were established by the government in 1997 and 2012 respectively and are tax incentives provided to UK tax payers to encourage them to subscribe for new share capital in UK companies that carry on qualifying trades. The production of a film and subsequent exploitation of that film is a qualifying trade for EIS and SEIS purposes.

SEIS is designed for a small fundraising by a UK company of up £150,000 while EIS can be used by a UK company on larger fundraisings of up to £5m.

Subject to the relevant conditions being met by both the company and individual investors, among other tax benefits to the investors, and income tax reduction of up to 50% of the amount subscribed for shares can be received by qualifying individuals under the SEIS incentive and 30% of the amount subscribed under the EIS incentive.

For government information on EIS schemes visit http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/eis/

Simply put, if you have a top rate tax payer who wants to invest in your film and you channel that through SEIS or EIS, they can be eligible to receive 50% or 30%  respectively of their investment back as a tax break, mitigating the risk of investment. If you want to understand more or set up an SEIS and EIS scheme, have a chat with HMRC or a good film accountancy firm who can guide you through the process.

If your film qualifies and there’s no conflicts of interest, it’s possible to mix and match across the funds to make up your film budget.

Agree, disagree, questions, thoughts? Hit me up in the comments.

If there’s any opportunities I’ve missed or need correcting, give me a shout in the comments and I’ll update the post to keep things current.  

Picture Credit: Jerry Maguire

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