The British Film Institute (BFI) announced their five-year post-Brexit funding plan in Birmingham today, guaranteeing just under £500million in investments between 2017 and 2022.
The plan, titled BFI2022, will see more investment aimed at diversifying the British film industry both in terms of the locality of its funding (most notably outside of London) and the diversity of the filmmakers making or starring in their funded titles.
Amanda Nevill, CEO of the BFI said:
“There is one word at the heart of this strategy: future. We will be supporting filmmakers so they are free to experiment and innovate for the future of the medium, opening doors to a future that includes greater opportunities for a diverse generation of individuals to find their voice in the industry; expanding the circle of decision-makers so that the energy behind the current success of film radiates across the whole of the UK.”
Josh Berger, the BFI Chair said:
“Our aim is to find, educate and support the very best talent, give them the skills, tools and creative freedom needed to tell their stories, and make sure as many people as possible can enjoy and be inspired by those stories on the big screen, the small screen and even the screen in their pocket.”
Similarly, funding will be allocated to increasing international expertise at the institute in order to ‘support the industry in the development of future trade deals over the next five years’, and BFI have requested that the British Film Commission “undertake a review of production services in the UK” to ensure that the UK “remains one of the easiest countries in the world to make films in”.
While the fund may seem to be of huge significance to potential filmmakers in the UK, and particularly the areas outside of London so often overlooked regarding such investment, there remains a clear ideology within the institute that increasing foreign investment and the support of foreign talent remains key to the British film industry’s success as has been made evident by its comments regarding the ease of access that international companies will have to UK services. This is seen as a controversial stance to some within the UK film industry as the continued blurring of what it means to be a ‘British film’ seems bound to continue if not expand, thus making the discovery of talented artists seeking the ability to share their cultural knowledge and local stories even more difficult. This also comes shortly after 2014 was controversially considered a ‘successful year for British film’ by the British Film Institute because of the success of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, ‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation’ and ‘Gravity’, all of which were seen as ‘British films’ under current regulations. Despite controversy, plans have been met with support in government, with the Minister for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock stating the following:
“The creative industries are one of the UK’s greatest success stories, contributing a staggering £84 billion a year to our economy and supporting nearly 3 million jobs. Film plays a central part in that and we recognise that supporting continued success is vital. I welcome the BFI’s new strategy and I am pleased that the BFI has strengthened its commitment to diversity and is looking to further its reach by doing more to support creativity outside of London. This will help to equip more young people with the skills they need to succeed whatever their background, wherever they live, and ensure that the UK remains a great place to make films.”
Regardless of the stance of the individual regarding the British Film Institute’s decision making and ideological positioning, the announcement of such heavy investment will be a welcomed bit of news for those within the UK’s film industry, especially following the EU’s announcement of a €121million funding of ‘entertainment’ companies in Europe coming after the country’s decision to exit the European Union earlier this year.