What is The UK Film Council doing to support short film-makers and short film-making?
The UK Film Council aims to support a range of short films and their directors by setting up several schemes to fund the production and distribution of shorts and to help turn these directors into feature length film-makers. They fund script development, film production, film export and distribution, film education, festivals and audience support schemes, to help widen audiences throughout the UK, and have even created new funds in order to support particular areas of film-making.
The Film Fund - The first and possibly most important scheme run by the UKFC to help support short film-makers and short films is The Film Fund, which funds the production and development of both feature-length and short films. It is said to be “…the heart of the UK Film Council,” as it is a fairly new fund specifically created to support aspiring film-makers, producers and writers of stand-out talent. The Film Fund also takes risks with films which appear to be unmarketable but are top-notch British films, therefore giving directors and their films a chance to be noticed regardless of whether their film can be marketed towards an audience.
The Innovation Fund - The Innovation Fund, due to launch in Autumn 2010, is being set up to support films made in the UK that use digital technology rather than traditional celluloid and is being set up to ensure there is support for a number of emerging technologies across all areas of the production, distribution and marketing stages of film. The investment of 240 digital screens across the UK has enabled shorts made on digital to be viewed by a larger audience rather than a specific few as there is no expense to change the digital film to 35mm celluloid.
The Prints & Advertising Fund - Much like the Innovation Fund, the Prints & Advertising Fund helps to create and support the distribution and marketing of films by having an annual budget of £2 million which goes towards widening the access to a range of films, creating more opportunities to see these films and raising the audience awareness of the range of films available by up-and-coming directors.
Cinema Extreme - The Cinema Extreme scheme is the combination of FilmFour and the UK Film Council and their idea of supporting directors who have a clear idea of what they want to achieve and who have had previous successes on other UKFC schemes or with their previous shorts funded in some other way. Many of the films funded on this scheme are shown at several international film festivals and have won many awards with Andrea Arnold recently picking up an Oscar for ‘Wasp’. Andrea Arnold is a key example of one of the successes of this scheme with her going on to make successful features such as ‘Fish Tank.’
Digital Shorts Scheme - The Digital Shorts Scheme enables film-makers in different regions of the UK to collaborate with a variety of regional companies that use new, digital technology to produce shorts that look as effective as if they were shot on 35mm celluloid. The next step up from the Digital Shorts Scheme is Digital Nation, which was previously known as Digital Shorts Plus and allows more established film-makers to work with companies across the UK helping them to create a portfolio for funding later on in their careers. The scheme works by having several films developed in to scripts and then selecting 12 to be made using digital technology with a budget of £17,500 - £20,000.
What are the nine Regional Screen Agencies (RSAs) that Film Council funding is delivered through?
The UK Film Council invests £6.3 million a year in the nine Regional Screen Agencies that are attempting to make film culture more accessible for the whole of the UK and helping to build thriving and sustainable media sectors across Britain by bringing together existing national and regional film bodies, media development agencies and commissioners. The nine Regional Screen Agencies are:
EM Media - EM Media is the screen agency for the East Midlands and focuses on supporting and developing a wide range of creative talent and their projects while raising the regions profile in terms of the East Midlands ability to make films and create a range of diverse media. Since 2002 they have helped fund over 600 projects including both short films and features with one of their main successes being Shane Meadows’ BAFTA winning ‘This Is England.’
Film London - Film London is one of the larger Regional Screen Agencies and obviously covers the London area. It strives to up London’s film culture and to ensure that London has a prosperous media sector by providing most aspects of film production, including research resources and location development. Formed in 2003 and partly funded by the UK Film Council, Film London also receives funding from the London Development Agency, Skillset, Arts Council England London and even the Mayor of London. In 2009 production figures state that Film London helped to assist with 13% of feature films and 19% of shorts. Several projects funded by Film London have gone on to do well at award ceremonies with the short film ‘I Do Air’ picking up a BAFTA.
Northern Film & Media - Northern Film & Media is the screen agency for the North East of England and aims to develop expertise, in both companies and individuals, in the areas of TV, film, animation and a host of multi-media and new technologies. Formed in 2002, they have since been very successful, providing support, training, schemes, services, workshops and networking events for both professional and non-professional film-makers, and with the help of the latest technologies they are able to host events which attract audiences wanting to be a part of the developments in film, TV, animation and other digital media. They work in conjunction with The UK Film Council and also work alongside established organisations such as ONE North East and Business Link.
Vision & Media - Vision & Media is the screen agency for the North West of England, which aims to support new film-makers while providing support, advice, programmes and projects for people already within the media and those who are wanting to enter into any type of media production including TV, radio, publishing, music, games and of course film. They also aim to help productions find locations and crew within the North West region with their extensive crew and location database. They believe in supporting festivals, as they are vital to the development of film-makers, and in helping to grow and attract business while promoting creativity and culture and developing skills and talent.
Screen East - Screen East is the Regional Screen Agency for the East of England, focusing on mainly TV and film production and providing locations, facilities and crew for new, emerging directors. Funded by the UKFC and the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) they take film and education seriously trying to develop young people’s understanding of film through different media schemes. They also believe in the importance of cinemas and festivals with regional cinemas such as Village Screen, a rural touring cinema scheme providing quality film screenings in community venues throughout Norfolk being supported by them.
Screen South - Screen South has a close connection with The UK Film Council acting as a key route for the flow of information between the Film Council and other regional organisations and film-makers. It primarily focuses on digital shorts made in the South East, particularly in Kent and Surrey, providing the crew and locations for these shorts. However they have also set up different programmes for aspiring feature length, short or even documentary film-makers. The latest in these line of programmes being ‘docs360’ a nine month development programme and competition for documentary film-makers where you could receive £25,000 if you win. Screen South also hosts festivals where awards are handed out in association with Skillset and have also screened shorts using the latest digital technology at the famous Pinewood Studios.
Screen West Midlands - Screen West Midlands provides support and funding for films such as the first MySpace user-generated film ‘Faintheart’ by being able to provide production support with the availability of both crews and locations. They believe in developing audiences on both a national and an international level by making film “…stimulating, entertaining and sustainable” and have strong beliefs about their investment in education as they believe that film is a medium for individual development, growth and creativity with even a section on their website dedicated to a range of resources solely for educational purposes.
Screen Yorkshire - Screen Yorkshire is the Regional Screen Agency for Yorkshire and Humber and like the other regional agencies provides funding and support for the development of films made within the area. Funded by Yorkshire Forward and The UK Film Council they again take education and film seriously with a section on their website devoted to educational resources. There is also a database of crew and locations to help with the production issues of shorts.
South West Screen - South West Screen is based in Bristol and uses several of The UK Film Councils schemes, including Media Box, to help disadvantaged teenagers by providing post-graduate bursaries for graduates to set up their own business or project.
As a short film-maker, what funds could you yourself apply for?
As a short film-maker I would obviously need to have a strong narrative and good, original plot to gain funding for my film and may even have to supply my own crew and scout my own locations. However I could apply for funding through The UK Film Councils Digital Shorts Scheme or through one of the Regional Screen Agencies with my regional agency being Screen South; Screen South may be slightly more helpful than the Digital Shorts Scheme however as it can provide me with advice and crew members through their online databases and expertise.