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British Film Institute Ties Funds to Diversity Goals

The British Film Institute has implemented new requirements to ensure that productions that are supported by U.K. Lottery funding through the BFI Film Fund reflect the diversity of the country.

Starting Sept. 1, all projects receiving BFI Film Fund coin will be assessed using the “Three Ticks” assessment approach. The assessment requires applicants to demonstrate commitment to diversity across three areas of production, from the composition of the workforce to the stories and characters onscreen, with at least one tick needed in a minimum of two areas for a project to be eligible for BFI production funding:

* Onscreen diversity, which includes diverse subject matter, at least one lead character positively reflecting diversity, at least 30% of supporting and background characters positively reflecting diversity;

* off-screen diversity, which includes includes key creatives (director, screenwriter, composer, cinematographer), at least two heads of department from diverse backgrounds, production crew and production company staff; and

* creating opportunities and promoting social mobility; i.e., paid internships and employment opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds, training placements and opportunities for former trainees or interns to progress within their careers.

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The BFI Film Fund is the largest public film fund in the U.K., investing more than £27 million ($46 million) into film development, production, international sales and distribution, supporting around 30 productions each year. Recent BFI Film Fund-backed productions telling diverse stories include Amma Asante’s “Belle,” above, which was released in the U.S. by Fox Searchlight; “Gone Too Far,” from director Destiny Ekaragha and writer Bola Agbaje; and Cannes Directors’ Fortnight hit “Pride,” from director Matthew Warchus and writer Stephen Beresford, which will be released in the U.K. by Pathe on Sept. 12.The BFI will be hiring a diversity expert to provide guidance.

The new requirements are backed by U.K. producers’ association Pact and ethnic minority recruitment and training charity Creative Access.

“To stay really relevant, it is vital that our film and television industries reflect and properly represent our society,” said BFI CEO Amanda Nevill. “Diversity is good for creativity; it supports economic growth, taps into underserved audiences and makes for good business sense. It’s a complex challenge but one we want to approach with an open heart and mind and renewed vigor, so today’s announcement is just the beginning.”

In partnership with Pact, the BFI will hold a series of town hall events for local producers to explain the new approach and answer questions about its implementation, with the first of these set to take place in London on July 23.

“Diversity is and will continue to be one of the most challenging and persistent issues to address. We already support a wide range of voices through the Film Fund, but the BFI and the wider film industry can all do more to ensure films reflect the breadth of talent and audiences in the U.K., and to provide routes of career progression in front of and behind the camera,” said BFI Film Fund director Ben Roberts.

Projects will be independently assessed against the three ticks criteria by the BFI’s Certification Unit, which also administers the cultural test for film, games, high-end television and animation projects.

 

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