The British Film Institute has set out a package of support measures designed to assist the U.K. film industry as it struggles with the impact of the coronavirus crisis.
Ben Roberts, chief executive of the BFI, said Thursday it has “repurposed” more than £4.6 million ($5.71 million) in funding to target specific areas of the sector, including exhibitors, freelancers and producers. It has adjusted criteria on key existing programs – including its annual £2.5 million ($3.1 million) Development Fund and the BFI Locked Box – in response to issues such as cash flow and company overhead.
In a statement, Roberts said: “The impact of the COVID-19 crisis has been devastating and far reaching, and we are working with colleagues across the industry to support those who have been hardest hit, and ensuring that we thrive as we recover.
“We are part of a community of innovative and talented creatives working across the entire value chain. We are committed to supporting the individuals, organizations and businesses who have been most impacted by COVID-19, and we have developed a program of support, which sits alongside the government’s extensive fiscal package.”
The BFI’s program of support includes:
• £2 million ($2.48 million) for the BFI Film Continuation Fund
Up to £2 million ($2.48 million) to be made available to independent U.K. productions interrupted by COVID-19 to help cover unexpected additional production costs to ensure productions are in the best position to resume production when practical.
• £1.3 million ($1.61 million) for the BFI Fan COVID-19 Resilience Fund
Exhibitors and festivals have faced immediate closure and cancellations, with many small- and medium-sized businesses at risk of permanent closure and making staff redundant. The BFI has repurposed the BFI Film Audience Network’s National Lottery Activity funding, to offer relief to exhibitors across the U.K.
• £500,000 ($621,000) contribution to the COVID-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund
BFI has partnered with The Film and TV Charity to set up this fund, which yesterday announced a contribution of £500,000 ($621,000) of National Lottery funding. The fund offers support to active workers and freelancers working across production, distribution and exhibition who have been hit by the crisis, providing one-off grants of between £500 ($621) and £2,500 ($3,100). The £2.5 million ($3.1 million) fund is thanks to donations from industry, including Netflix, the BBC, WarnerMedia and several individuals, as well as the BFI.
• £800,000 ($993,000) for BFI funded features
£800,000 ($993,000) was made available for BFI funded features that were interrupted due to COVID-19 restrictions. As contracts were abruptly cut short, the funds have ensured those employed were paid two weeks’ notice.
• BFI funded partners
All the BFI’s funded partners and projects have been given flexibility on both the scheduling of payments to support cash flow, and on delivery against activity targets impacted by the pandemic. This has been particularly essential for the 28 exhibitors, major festivals, distributors and archives who received £3.8 million ($4.71 million) through the BFI’s Audience Fund Organizational Awards in March.
The U.K.’s creative industries minister Caroline Dinenage commented: “Our world-leading screen sector is at the cultural heart of the nation and is one of our greatest success stories. It is fantastic to see the BFI taking a strong lead in helping those in the industry struggling in these difficult times. Together with the government’s unprecedented financial support package, these measures will help ensure that the sector continues to thrive and is well placed to recover as quickly as possible.”