The BFI has opened the £2m BFI COVID-19 Production Continuation Fund, a temporary new fund for UK independent productions unavoidably interrupted as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. National Lottery funding – up to £150,000 per project – is available for productions in critical financial need to help cover unexpected additional costs, aiming to ensure producers are in a position to restart when it is safe and practical to do so. The deadline for applications is Wednesday 27 May.
A number of independently financed UK films that were already filming or in late stage pre-production have incurred significant and unexpected costs in having to shut down as a result of the pandemic. The majority of these productions are, as a result, at serious risk of collapsing, as they are unlikely to find other sources of funding to cover these costs. This exceptional new National Lottery production fund is focused on ensuring productions can be stabilised, increasing their ability to resume production when social distancing guidance allows.
Ben Roberts, Chief Executive of the BFI, said: “We are focused on restarting the industry as quickly as possible, and central to that is ensuring we have a strong and vibrant independent film sector in the UK, which was under considerable pressure before the shutdown. This fund is part of that work, providing a vital lifeline to independent productions directly and significantly impacted by the lockdown. It aims to ensure the production companies, along with the creatives and crew they were working with, are in a position to restart when it is safe and appropriate to do so, and crucially, encouraging our talented workforce to remain in the sector.”
Applications are invited from independently financed films with a production budget of less than £8m, that are produced by a UK production company and are capable of qualifying as a “British film”, including UK qualifying co-productions. Productions can apply for up to £150,000, which can be exceeded in exceptional circumstances where critical need for a higher amount is demonstrated. Funding can only be applied to help cover identified COVID-19 related additional costs that cannot be covered from other sources (including from successful insurance or completion bond claims, Government supported COVID-19 schemes, or existing or new third party funders), and may not be used to reimburse funds advanced by existing funders. In the case of qualifying UK co-productions, such costs must relate to UK production elements for which the UK co-producer is responsible. All awards from the fund will be recoupable.
The BFI COVID-19 Production Continuation Fund mirrors the financial support already provided to the eight BFI funded features that were filming or in late stage pre-production when they were forced to stand down due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The fund is part of a package of support the BFI has rolled out to support individuals, organisations and businesses across the sector that have been most impacted by COVID-19. The BFI is also continuing to work closely with industry and Government to develop and implement a robust, sector-wide strategy for recovery. Out of its Screen Sector Task Force, a number of working groups are focused on key areas: inward investment; independent film; distribution and exhibition; and television and broadcasting.