Unlocking Film Heritage Digitisation Fund FAQ

Find out more about the Unlocking Film Heritage Digitisation Fund.

Can I talk to someone about my application before I send it in?

In the first instance, please read the guidelines for applicants and the frequently asked questions below. We also recommend that you read about Film Forever, our five-year plan. If, after that, you still have any questions, please use the webform below and we will contact you by email or phone.

What information do I need to include in the application?

Please refer to the guidelines for advice on completing the application form. There are two different sets of guidelines, one for commercial rights holders and one for significant collections. There are a number of documents you will need to submit with your application. These are detailed in each set of guidelines and include:

  • a content and delivery plan telling us about the films you want to digitise.
  • a budget.
  • a workflow schedule for significant collections applicants.
  • an exhibition and exploitation plan (for rights holders).

All the information you will need to complete these can be found in the guidelines for applicants.

Why is the fund only open to significant collections and commercial rights holders?

Our priority is to make the UK’s rich screen heritage available to everyone to enjoy. We are starting this by digitising 10,000 titles and making these available in the cinema, through DVD or online platforms – 5,000 from the BFI collection and 5,000 from significant collections and rights holders across the UK. Our ultimate goal is to digitise and make available to the public all of the UK’s screen heritage. Less than 5% of the material in these significant collections is digitised – it is our priority to make this available through this programme.

The BFI is keen to ensure that films are digitised representing material of interest to audiences across the whole the UK. By working with the identified significant collections the BFI is able to reach collections covering the whole country.

What are the significant collections?

There are over 31 ‘significant collections’ representing material from archives across the UK. They include national collections in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, The Imperial War Museum and important dedicated film collections in each of the English regions. These public, non-profit making, charitable organisations collections were identified as part of the Screen Heritage UK programme. Each collection was assessed against key ‘significance’ criteria by an expert panel and ratified by the Screen Heritage UK Board in March 2010. See Appendix F of the significant collections guidelines for more details.

What is a commercial rights holder?

For the purposes of the fund we describe a commercial rights holder as a company or organisation controlling the distribution rights within the UK and other territories to license and commercially exploit moving image content. This can be for home entertainment such as Blu-ray or DVD, VOD or download via the web, television broadcast or theatrical cinema exploitation.

Why just fiction features?

There will be a number of calls for funding applications over the course of the Unlocking Film Heritage (UFH) programme. In later rounds the range of content we are looking for will be wider and may include television material (shot on film), news films, short fiction, films originally designed as public records and animation. In this round the focus is on British fiction features.

What if my distribution plan for UFH digitised films requires a window for distribution in other media (e.g. theatrical, DVD) prior to the exploitation period on the BFI Player? Your rights and recoupment terms do not seem to allow for this.

In the event you have submitted a distribution plan for UFH content which requires windowing around exploitation on the BFI Player, the BFI will work with you to agree suitable arrangements. You should include information on release plans and windowing in your exhibition/exploitation plan. See the appendix to the guidelines for more details.

What if I can’t licence content to the BFI Player?

We recognise that some applicants may not control the VOD rights for some titles and therefore cannot grant a licence to the BFI to include the content on the Player. In such cases a robust ‘exhibition’ plan demonstrating wide audience reach within the UK will be a requirement of funding. See Appendix F: exhibition and exploitation plan for rights holders.

The guidelines mention a royalty due to the BFI from my revenues from a film in the event that film is unavailable for licensing to the BFI Player, but I cannot see this scenario reflected in your rights and recoupment terms.

The rights and recoupment appendix shows the standard terms we would apply in the event rights for BFI Player are available. Funding for digitisation in the absence of BFI Player rights is dependent on approval by the BFI of an alternative distribution plan submitted by you. As such plans could take a variety of forms, appropriate terms will be drawn up by the BFI upon approval.

What is the BFI Player?

The BFI Player enables you to watch great films without subscription. It is a VOD service from the BFI which is currently only available to UK customers.

It features contemporary and classic films, hand-picked from our renowned festivals, cultural programme and the BFI National Archive.

How is digitised content placed on the BFI Player protected from unauthorised copying and distribution, and how is viewing of the content limited to the licensed territory?

The BFI Player uses industry-standard digital rights management and geo-blocking to protect content from unauthorised copying and distribution.

What if I licence content for free on the BFI Player, do I have to pay the grant back?

No. Where digitised content is made available on the BFI Player free of charge to users for the licence period described in the guidelines, there will be no requirement for repayment of the digitisation grant in relation to that specific piece of content.

What if I have great films but they don’t meet the curatorial themes?

Our priority is to digitise material that meets the curatorial themes. Applications meeting these requirements will be given a much higher priority in the assessment process. The curatorial themes are wide and cover a broad range of areas including ‘A Portrait of the British Isles’ (working title) covering people and places UK wide, through to targeted themes associated with anniversaries and key events. Further themes will be announced as the programme rolls out. If you have material that is unique or highly significant and meets the funding criteria but does not match the themes at all you should contact us using the contact details listed below.

How many titles may I submit?

There is no fixed limit on the number of titles you can submit in our application providing that your total application does not exceed £80,000 and that your costs are based on the Digital Framework Suppliers Universal Rate card costings. However, you are encouraged to consider making a balanced proposal based on the curatorial themes (listed in the appendices). The majority of titles will be included in the ‘Portrait of the British Isles’ (working title) theme.

When will the next curatorial themes be announced?

Curatorial themes will be announced with or just prior to each funding round. Please see the guidelines for indicative dates. We anticipate the next funding guidelines will be published in August/September 2014.

If I’m successful in my bid for UFH funds in this round, will I be able to submit for later rounds?

Yes, provided you met the requirements of the grant in this round and have successfully delivered the digitised content within the agreed deadlines. Each application will need to meet the funding guidelines and associated round of curatorial themes.

How do I create an account?

If you do not have an account you will be asked to register for one before starting your application. Logging in to your account allows you to access your in-progress or submitted application. You can log in to your account via the account login link on the Unlocking Film Heritage Digitisation Fund page.

What is meant by ‘diverse’, ‘diversity’ and ‘hard to reach’?

We want to help enable all groups within our society to participate in and enjoy film culture as audiences and learners. We want to make certain that our funding is open to a wide range of people, embracing differences in the values, attitudes, cultural perspective, beliefs, ethnic background, sexual orientation, ability or disability, skills, knowledge, socio-economic status, age and life experiences of each individual in any group of people.

Some of these groups fall in to the category of ‘hard to reach’ audiences and it may require specialised or targeted marketing to encourage them to visit a cinema or to watch something they would not choose for themselves but might enjoy.

If you require further information, please use our webform:

Unlocking Film Heritage Digitisation Fund webform

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