What is the BFI NET.WORK?

The NET.WORK is the BFI’s new initiative to create a joined up network of people charged with finding filmmakers who have the potential to make a feature film and nurturing them to the point that they are ready to do so. The initiative is UK-wide, with points of access in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. The main idea is to provide more resources and more expertise to this important area of development in order to better nurture our filmmakers of the future while also creating a knowledge and information-sharing network so that these resources and expertise can be applied in a more targeted and effective way. There will be two aspects to the NET.WORK. The first will be physical centres with people who will work with emerging talent and offer short filmmaking opportunities for new talent, and the second will be a website which will be targeted at new talent.

What is the difference between New and Emerging Talent?

New talent are those filmmakers who have so far done very little but who are looking for opportunities to prove themselves and to develop their filmmaking voice. They may have made a self-funded short or written a screenplay but probably haven’t yet produced work of a quality that has attracted financial support from within the industry.

Emerging talent are those filmmakers who have acquired some professional skills and will have made work of a certain level but who have not yet made a feature. Writers may have written and produced plays or television. Directors may have a track record in the theatre or in music promos and may now be looking for guidance and support towards making their first feature film.

Here are some bullet points to help differentiate between new and emerging talent:

New talent

  • have little or no professional experience.
  • have some track record in self-funded films, in student films or in other screen-based or related media (theatre, radio, visual arts etc) but whose work has yet to attract attention and/or significant support from within the film industry.

Emerging talent

  • have already acquired some professional experience.
  • have produced work which has already received positive industry and/or public attention.
  • have not yet written or directed a produced feature film.

Who will be running the NET.WORK?

The BFI is working with national partners to deliver the NET.WORK. These are Creative England, Creative Scotland, Film Agency for Wales and Northern Ireland Screen. Each organisation will have executives with specific responsibility for working with new and emerging filmmakers, with the ability to apply resources to script development, short filmmaking and other bespoke development needs. Some of the nations also offer other schemes for new and emerging talent and details can be found on their websites.

The BFI is also working with Film London to deliver two shorts schemes in the capital, one producing up to 18 films at a lower budget level and aimed primarily at new filmmakers and one at a higher budget level for emerging Black and Asian Minority Ethnic filmmakers. The BFI is working with 104 Films to offer training and development programmes for disabled filmmakers across the UK.

What will the NET.WORK centres look like in England?

Creative England has worked with the BFI to set up two centres – one in Brighton and one in Sheffield. Each centre will have a Senior Executive and a Development Executive who will identify and work with filmmakers. The centres are principally dedicated to work with emerging filmmakers but will also manage some aspects of work with new filmmakers such as the shorts scheme, iShorts.

Can I apply to both Brighton and Sheffield in England?

Applications will be centralised and, regardless of where you live, talent executives in either centre may work with you. This is designed to remove any element of a postcode lottery and to ensure that the decision-making system can apply a plurality of tastes to give everyone the best chance of consideration and support. It’s also designed to ensure you receive the most appropriate support for your needs.

If I’m a filmmaker based in London, will I need to go to a talent centre in Brighton or Sheffield?

Yes. The Talent Centres will provide support to emerging filmmakers from across England, including those based in London.

If you’re looking for short film funding, new filmmakers based in England (out of London) can apply to the Talent Centres’ shorts scheme, iShorts.

If you are a filmmaker living in the capital and wanting to make a short film, you should apply to Film London’s shorts scheme, London Calling, which will produce up to 18 short films. In acknowledgment of the large and diverse talent pool in London, there will also be a shorts scheme called London Calling Plus, producing five higher budget short films and specifically targeting emerging Black and Asian Minority Ethnic filmmakers this year.

What will the NET.WORK look like in the other nations?

Each nation has an agency devoted to working with filmmakers to develop and support their work. The talent needs in each area have been identified to be slightly different and each agency has formulated an offer to help filmmakers in their area with a targeted initiative through the NET.WORK.

Film Agency for Wales will complement its own development and production activity with a broad range of support for new and emerging writers, directors and producers through the NET.WORK. The agency’s NET.WORK activity will include tailored talent and project specific mentoring, specialist talent labs, talent showcases, script readings, short films and networking, and they will employ a dedicated executive to work in this area. Film Agency for Wales accepts funding applications from residents of Wales and from Welsh-born writers, directors and producers who live elsewhere.

Northern Ireland Screen have formulated a plan, called Breaking In, to introduce and showcase their emerging talent to London-based producers and talent agents through a series of performed readings and networking activities.

Creative Scotland will offer a broad range of opportunities through the NET.WORK, with new initiatives to be managed by an external organisation. Scotland is currently undergoing a film policy review at national level and until this is complete and the NET.WORK in Scotland becomes operational at the beginning of 2014, the BFI Film Fund will continue to provide direct support for new and emerging Scottish filmmakers.

How will the NET.WORK website work?

The website will be both a source of information for filmmakers to find out about how to get supported at any stage of their talent development journey and a place where new talent can showcase work and come to the notice of the film industry or NET.WORK executives. It will be possible to post short films and writing work on the site for consideration by NET.WORK executives. Through this it is hoped that a steady stream of new filmmaking talent will be guided towards the next stage of development of their careers. It is due to be active in 2014.

How do I apply to the NET.WORK?

There will be online links from the BFI’s website and those of the other partners which will direct you to the central portal for the NET.WORK. From here, depending on where you are based, you will be directed to the relevant organisation.

Can I apply to the Talent Centres in England if I live in Wales?

To make the best use of NET.WORK resources locally, writers, directors and producers who are based in Wales should apply to Film Agency for Wales. Similarly, those based in Scotland and Northern Ireland should approach Creative Scotland or Northern Ireland Screen.

We do recognise that writers, directors and producers applying as team may come from different nations so the Talent Centres will offer some flexibility for collaborations. However, the core principal is that the primary beneficiaries of support – a writer seeking screenplay support, a director seeking to do a short film – should be supported by their own national organisation.

How much money can I apply for?

It depends on what you want to do. In England, screenplay support and feature film development in the Talent Centres is generally capped at £30k. Shorts across the UK may be budgeted at a range from £4k to £50k depending on what stage you are at and/or which fund you are applying to. Other support will be given as required – the aim is to provide bespoke support tailored to the needs of the individual. All applications for support via the Talent Centres should be connected to the end-goal of a feature film project and will be judged on their contribution towards that. If you are selected for support then the bespoke needs of the project or the talent connected with it will be subject to discussion and negotiation with the executives involved.

Can I apply to both London Calling and London Calling Plus?

As the budget levels are so different filmmakers cannot apply for the same project to both schemes. The budget and talent should dictate the scheme being applied to.

Will the BFI still develop New and Emerging filmmakers directly?

No. The NET.WORK will now handle all of this work but BFI executives will be closely involved in the system through information sharing and, in England, will consult with Creative England on relevant funding decisions.

The BFI Film Fund will continue to provide production funding for first feature films directly, accepting applications on a rolling basis and making decisions every quarter.

Are there any exceptions?

In some cases, such as when a very established producer is working with an Emerging director who is also very established in another discipline (TV or theatre) with a project which is a at a high budget level, then the BFI may take these projects on directly.

What is a high budget level?

Most first films are below £2,000,000 and this is a useful guide figure.

Does development support through the NET.WORK guarantee production funding from the BFI or its partners?

No. The NET.WORK is designed to help filmmakers on their paths towards making their first feature film, but the BFI has limited funding available and all its funding decisions are based on the creative merit of the individual project and the team behind it. Coming through the NET.WORK is not a guarantee of production funding further down the line.

Will the NET.WORK do anything else other than provide support for writing/directing?

The NET.WORK will also nurture the filmmaking community by providing opportunities for networking and information sharing both through the website and physically through campus style schemes where filmmakers can meet each other, show work and benefit from masterclasses. These will be designed for filmmakers who are being nurtured through the NET.WORK but there will be elements open to the public too. Through these we would hope to generate an ongoing dialogue about filmmaking practice and talent development in the UK.

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