U.K. Film Council funds digital age

Cash to be used for four film funds

LONDON — The U.K. Film Council is buckling up for the digital age and providing £5.5 million ($10.9 million) of funding a year until 2010 to improve access to film across the U.K.

The cash injection has been raised from UKFC reserves and recoupment.

The extra coin will be used for four funding priorities: the U.K. Film Festival Fund, the U.K. Digital Film Archives Fund, the Partnership Challenge Fund and a Digitalisation and Marketing Fund.

In addition to the new funds, up to $2 million a year from the existing $16 million Premiere Fund will be made available to market test British films and help pay for late tweaks, such as remixing music or re-filming sections. Any film will be able to apply to the fund, not just those supported by the Premiere Fund.

“Premiere Fund head Sally Caplan will not be obliged to spend all £1 million ($2 million) per year and she will decide which films receive funds for market testing,” said UKFC spokeswoman Lisa Tremble, who is eager to stress the new fund will not eat into the Premiere Fund to a major extent.

Other than that, none of the current UKFC funding will be affected by the four new funds.

The Digitisation and Marketing Fund will get $4 million a year to widen the theatrical and online distribution of British and specialized film. The fund will be incorporated into the existing P&A fund, which receives $4 million a year.

The Digital Film Archives Fund will receive $2 million a year. The cash injection will help bankroll the digitalization of the film archive and increase public access to existing digital archives.

“The resounding message was that digital advances will change the way the film industry works and that the U.K. Film Council must take a lead,” commented John Woodward, UKFC chief executive. “We recognize this and will act upon it by ensuring our policies and funding measures encourage and support innovation.”

The U.K. Film Festivals Fund will make $3 million available to fests to raise their profile and attract more diverse auds. Through the sponsorship fund, the UKFC already supports a clutch of higher-profile fests, such as the Edinburgh Intl. Film Festival and the London Film Festival. But no UKFC film fest strategy currently exists, said Tremble.

The Partnership Challenge Fund, again with $2 million to spend, will look to leverage funds from outside sources, including other lottery distributors, toward film joint projects.

The focus of the funding priority areas remains broad and will be sharpened up in coming months after another round of consultation with the industry is completed.

The three-year plan for funding and policy priorities runs from April 2007 to March 2010.

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