Making an application for BFI National Lottery Discovery Feature Funding

This guide gives you advice and recommendations on how to write a good application for BFI National Lottery Discovery Feature Funding.

Application dates

The Discovery Fund is now closed for applications. The Discovery Fund will re-open again in September 2024 (exact dates are TBC).

1. Overview

The BFI National Lottery Filmmaking Fund invests National Lottery funding in a diverse range of work with creative merit and ambition, which the commercial sector is not able to back, in full or in part, and which would therefore benefit from National Lottery support.

Through its various funding programmes, the Filmmaking Fund focuses on developing new, emerging and established talent in front of and behind the camera and encouraging risk in form and narrative approach.

BFI National Lottery Discovery Feature Funding provides support of up to a maximum of £1,000,000 for features from debut directors with budgets of up to £3,500,000. Assessment of applications for Discovery funding will focus strongly on the talent involved and their progression, as well as the feature project itself. Through championing under-represented talent earlier in their careers, we can help create a more diverse and inclusive film industry.

Please note that we don’t expect to provide many awards at the maximum level of £1,000,000 per project, and our award amounts will generally range from £500,000 to £850,000. We have limited funds and may therefore only be able to offer you a lower amount than the one you request. 

2. Delivering against our National Lottery Strategy

All activity supported with BFI Discovery funding should contribute to some of the outcomes identified in the BFI National Lottery strategy. The outcomes that Discovery applicants should seek to meet can be found in our funding priorities and outcomes. You will be asked to identify which outcomes your project will achieve in your application.

Core priorities

We will apply the following six priorities when reviewing applications. These take in the three National Lottery strategic principles as well as the outcomes mentioned above. 

1. Equity, diversity and inclusion: addressing under-representation in perspective and representation, talent and recruitment, agency and opportunities, widening the range of voices and audiences served.

2. Impact and audience: supporting projects with a strong cultural or progressive impact for audiences.

3. Talent development and progression: supporting early career filmmakers (producers, writers and directors) and projects with a reasonable proportion of early career cast and crew.

4. Risk: supporting projects that take creative risks.

5. UK-wide: increasing the number of projects and filmmakers outside London and the South East, looking at location and representation.

6. Environmental sustainability: addressing sustainability both creatively and practically.

BFI Diversity Standards

We ask applicants to address priority one – equity, diversity and inclusion – through engaging with the BFI Diversity Standards for film (you can download the document below). You will need to demonstrate how your project meaningfully tackles under-representation in relation to disability, gender, race, age, sexual orientation and socio-economic status, while also considering the interactions of these identities and any other barriers to opportunity.

Discovery funding will prioritise projects that will make a significant contribution to improving equity, diversity and inclusion across the industry and so your application will need to make clear, specific commitments to making this change.

Key Performance Indicators

The BFI will measure the success of Discovery funding using the following Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). They incorporate the BFI’s inclusion targets and the characteristics of the filmmakers benefiting from Discovery funding awards will contribute towards our performance against these targets:

  • Number of projects per year: 6
  • Projects receiving BAFTA albert certification: 100%
  • Projects meet minimum of three Diversity Standards (including mandatory Standards C and E): 100%
  • Writers, directors and producers new to BFI National Lottery funding: 20%
  • Geographic spread of writers, directors and producers: 60% based outside London and the South East; 15% based in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales
  • Geographic spread of main production base (monitored through the location of lead applicant/production company): 55% based outside of London & SE; 13% based in NI, Scotland or Wales
  • Step Up – individuals supported on each project: 3
  • Number of Wellbeing Facilitators on each project: 1
  • Supported writers, directors and producers making a second longform work in the five years following completion of the project: 50%
  • Projects have a sales agent attached within 12 months of the film’s delivery to BFI: 100%
  • Inclusion targets for writers, directors and producers supported:
    • Disability (including those identifying as D/deaf or neurodiverse or with a longstanding physical or mental diagnosis) 18%
    • Ethnically diverse (London) 40%
    • Ethnically diverse (outside London) 30%
    • Gender (50-50 balance of male and female identifying within the gender binary) 50%
    • LGBTQIA+ (including those identifying outside the gender binary) 10%
    • Working class background 39%

3. Check if you’re eligible

Applicant

All applications for funding must be made by:

  • the project’s dedicated individual producer through a limited company registered and centrally managed in the UK
  • a producer with an established creative track record in successfully delivering moving image work, which means having produced previous projects. These could be feature films, short films, television, music videos, immersive projects, artists’ moving image work etc. We cannot accept applications from producers whose only previous work is not screen-based

Filmmaking team

All projects must:

  • have a director attached who has not yet directed a third-party funded feature film that has been commercially distributed in the UK and/or Ireland. For the avoidance of doubt, any features that were self-financed by the director, or that did not achieve commercial distribution in the UK and/or Ireland, will not count for these purposes
  • be able to demonstrate that the director has relevant directing experience through their work in moving image media. This can be alongside having the majority of their directing credits in a related creative sector, such as theatre
  • in addition to having a director that meets the above criteria, have a writer and producer attached at the time of application
  • have a minimum of two individuals across the three key creative roles of producer, writer and director. The writer and director may be the same person, but there must always be a dedicated producer, who cannot also be the writer or director of the project
  • have a writer, director and producer who are all over 18 and not in full-time education. If any of the filmmaking team are currently in full-time education, you may include them in your application provided that their course or studies will be completed within two months of the closing date of the call for applications, and that they would be available from that point to work full-time on the project
  • The producer and director of your project can only be attached to one application submitted to the Discovery fund, per funding round
  • If your project has more than one director attached, and the directors intend on sharing their credits as co-directors, we will define the project as a debut only if both directors haven’t previously directed a third-party funded feature film that has been commercially distributed in the UK and/or Ireland. If either of the attached directors have directed such a feature film that has been commercially distributed in the UK and/or Ireland, applicants should submit to the Impact fund

Projects

All projects must:

  • have a total budget of no more than £3,500,000
  • be a stand-alone live action or animated work of fiction with an intended running time of at least 70 minutes. Please note that documentaries are not eligible for Discovery funding; National Lottery support for documentary is provided by the BFI Doc Society Fund
  • have a fully developed script (which will need to be submitted as part of the application)
  • be seeking funding of no more than £1,000,000 to be applied as a contribution towards the total budget. Awards will be made in accordance with the scale, ambition and reach of each proposal. We hope to receive applications at a range of budget levels and requests, and do not expect to support many films at the top award level
  • include third-party funding, in addition to the amount requested from the BFI, in their finance plan. We do not accept applications for the entire project budget amount. You do not need to have all of your other funding in place before you apply to us, but you will need to provide a draft finance plan showing how your project may feasibly be funded
  • allow enough time within the production timeline for the BFI to assess the application and, if it is successful, for the legal paperwork required to be completed, prior to beginning principal photography
  • include an initial calculation of the UK film tax credit and any other incentives or subsidies available to the production in their finance plan. Find the latest information on the UK Film Tax Credit at gov.uk
  • be capable of qualifying for certification as a British film, either through the applicable cultural test, or as an official co-production. Read more information on British certification. Should you need advice as to whether your project is capable of qualifying, please contact certifications@bfi.org.uk prior to submitting your application
  • have secured, or you have a contractual right to secure, the rights (including any underlying rights) in the idea you are proposing. This includes use of any necessary archive or biographical material. You will be required to provide proof of this prior to any funding offer or payment of any award from the BFI
  • be capable of obtaining a BBFC certificate that is no more restrictive than BBFC ‘18’
  • clearly engage with our core priorities

Co-productions

We accept applications for international co-productions provided that they meet the eligibility criteria outlined above, including clear engagement with our core priorities. Minority co-productions should however consider applying to the BFI UK Global Screen Fund’s (UKGSF) International Co-Production strand in the first instance, unless you believe that your project won’t meet the applicable eligibility criteria and/or you are seeking an amount in excess of the maximum award available from UKGSF. You should not apply for Discovery funding and UKGSF International Co-Production funding simultaneously, and you cannot receive support from both funds for the same project.

If your application for Discovery funding is declined, you may still subsequently apply to UKGSF if you meet their eligibility criteria, and vice-versa.

BFI Locked Box

If you have a BFI Locked Box from one or more other BFI-funded projects that is accumulating funds, you should tell us this in your application. If you have, or are likely to have, more than £20,000 accrued in any BFI Locked Box at the point of financial closing of your new project, we will require you to invest all sums over £20,000 in the project ahead of additional funding from the BFI. For more information, see details on the BFI Locked Box factsheet.

When you’re ineligible

You’re not eligible to apply for this funding if:

  • your film is intended primarily for broadcast television
  • your film is a documentary
  • your film focuses on another art form such as literature, dance on film, poetry on film, opera or artists’ moving image
  • you are seeking funding for an immersive media work
  • you have previously applied for BFI National Lottery production funding at any time for the project, and there has not been a substantial change in elements (e.g. a change of director, or a significant rewrite of the material with a different writer)
  • the director of your project has directed a third-party funded feature film that has been commercially distributed in the UK and/or Ireland

If, having read the above eligibility criteria, you’re still unsure whether you are eligible to apply for Discovery funding, please contact the team on productioncoordinator@bfi.org.uk

4. What you can use the funding for

Our funding is a contribution towards the total budget of your film. Your budget should be created using industry norms and market rates, and contain provision for the following:

  • all costs you expect to incur in order to complete and deliver the film
  • the costs of clearance of all rights (including in the music) in the project worldwide in all media in perpetuity on a full buy-out basis (save only for PRS payments for music and any applicable US Guild residuals)
  • working with environmentally sustainable suppliers throughout all stages of production. When preparing your budget, consider how you will account for specific elements of sustainable production practice. This could include sourcing renewable energy; increasing travel by train and other public or shared transport; catering using local, seasonal ingredients; using different and less environmentally impactful materials; or choosing more sustainable solutions for digital storage and post-production. You may wish to consult BAFTA albert’s list of sustainable suppliers
  • repayment of any BFI development funding and/or Vision Award (if applicable)
  • crew payments, at least in line with the London Living Wage (or equivalent)
  • cast payments, at least in line with Equity minimum (including any cast buy-out fees)
  • producer/production fees proportionate to the proposed budget. If we decide to support the project, we will discuss these fees with you. Although there are exceptions, the combined producer fees and/or production fees/overheads are, on average, in the region of 7-8%, and not more than 10%, of the direct costs of production (i.e. the production budget net of the producer fees and production fees/overheads). The BFI does not encourage deferral of any fees
  • adequate unit publicity stills and footage
  • any access support you require in order to produce the project (see further information below)
  • adequate legal costs for the production (including for any other financiers who require their legal costs to be met from the budget)
  • all customary production insurances (including errors and omissions) on which the BFI will require to be added as a named insured (for production insurance) and as an additional insured (for errors and omissions)
  • all the delivery materials required by the BFI including enhanced access materials (see Appendix A for a full list of BFI delivery materials)
  • adequate delivery materials for delivery to an international sales agent and all other financing partners
  • a mandatory Film Skills Fund (FSF) levy of 0.5% of UK core expenditure (subject to the FSF cap)
  • a 10% contingency
  • sufficient allowance for accounting and audit costs including those related to the final audit and your UK tax credit application
  • if required by BFI or any third-party funders, provision for a completion bond
  • if a bond is not required, an allowance of an additional £20,000 financier’s contingency
  • any other requirements of funding detailed within these guidelines

We encourage you to be economical when budgeting, but we need to ensure that the projects we support are produced in accordance with all applicable UK laws, including in relation to cast and crew payments. You can include contributions ‘in kind’, e.g. of resources or time — these should be clearly identified as such in your budget and you will need to demonstrate that cast and crew are being paid fairly.

Costs that we cannot support, and which should not be included in your budget, include the following:

  • core costs for day-to-day running of your production company not associated with the film
  • activity that is already specifically supported by another source of funding
  • costs incurred prior to a formal offer of funding from BFI

The above list is not exhaustive, and we may inform you that other types of activity identified in your application may not be included in your production budget.

Access support costs

If any members of your core team, cast and/or crew have personal access needs that will incur additional costs during the production of your project, you can include these costs in your application. We define such needs as specific support required by people who are disabled or have a physical and/or mental health diagnosis, which will result in a verifiable additional cash cost to your production budget. For example, this might include a BSL interpreter to work with members of cast or crew; additional transport or accommodation costs for disabled team members; or the personal assistant of a team member with a learning disability or mental health diagnosis who requires assistance during the production.

If you require support for such costs, please include them in your budget under the category Access Support.

If you are already seeking the maximum award amount and have not been able to cover support costs within that, you can apply for these in addition to the maximum award amount.

BFI delivery materials

A full list of the delivery materials that will be required if we fund your project is provided at Appendix A. The BFI is committed to ensuring that the cinema experience is open to all, especially to disabled audience members. It is therefore a requirement of our funding that the film is delivered with subtitles and audio description, and that the availability of these materials is publicised, and they are made available in time for any UK screenings of the film.

5. Environmental sustainability, wellbeing and Step Up

This section details the sustainability and wellbeing requirements of your application. It also includes information on the additional ‘Step Up’ fund.

Environmental sustainability

All applicants for BFI production funding need to plan their project, from development stage onwards, with the environment and the climate crisis in mind. In your application, you will need to tell us about how environmental sustainability will be embedded in your production. This means working to reduce your carbon emissions as much as possible, and your impact on the living world; and to maximise the positive environmental benefits your project could have.

This will require you to think about the impact of your approach to production; where your energy comes from, in offices and on location; what materials you consume and how you plan for reduction, re-use and recycling, etc. We ask all applicants to share and embed sustainable values and behaviour with their collaborators and their supply chain and promote sustainable production to colleagues across the wider industry.

As part of the BFI’s commitment to sustainability, we require all projects receiving funding to gain BAFTA albert certification. This process must be started in pre-production. If you are selected for funding, visit the albert website to request an account. You can then use the Carbon Calculator to predict your production’s footprint by entering information on your anticipated activity, including prep and post-production phases. The predicted footprint will enable you to see which aspects of the production will generate the most carbon emissions and help you to identify actions to reduce these before you start. These should then be recorded in your Carbon Action Plan. Once production gets underway, enter the actual data to calculate a final footprint which forms part of your submission to albert at the end of post-production.

Albert has a range of production and editorial tools, and training courses to support you and your teams to reduce the negative and increase the positive environmental impacts of your film. Full details are available in albert’s Production Handbook and you can also find upcoming training dates.

BFI Step Up

BFI Step Up provides a unique opportunity for talented crew from under-represented groups to embrace new challenges and enhance their existing skills, by stepping up to more senior roles including Heads of Department (HoDs) on a BFI-funded production. Once we have confirmed our support for a production, producers should then apply for additional Step Up funding to support stepping up crew.

You do not therefore need to include Step Up costs in the amount you are requesting from the BFI in your initial production funding application. Step Up funding can only be used for the costs of stepping up crew – it cannot be used to cover the salary of core crew already outlined in your production budget or for trainees.

Wellbeing facilitator

Wellbeing facilitators aim to champion and facilitate a positive working culture, acting as an independent point of contact for everyone on set throughout the lifecycle of a production. Similar to Step Up funding, once we have confirmed our support, the applicant producer will be asked to apply for additional funding to cover the costs of engaging a wellbeing facilitator approved by the BFI on their production.

Should you have any further questions relating to Step Up or wellbeing facilitator funding, including wellbeing providers, please contact productioncoordinator@bfi.org.uk

6. How to apply

When you can apply

The Discovery Fund is now closed for applications. The Discovery Fund will re-open again in September 2024 (exact dates are TBC).

Submitting an application

You need to create an account to make your application online. You can save your application and return to it later. You can view a PDF preview of the application form below.

Make sure you complete all the sections as incomplete forms will automatically be deemed ineligible.

Summary of information you need to provide

In the application you’ll need to provide the following information: 

Applicant details

  • Organisation and contact details of the applicant production company and dedicated individual producer

Project and team details

  • Project title/working title
  • The amount of funding you are seeking from the BFI
  • Estimated total production budget – see What you can use the funding for above
  • Your case for National Lottery good cause support
  • Details of the individual producer(s), writer(s) and director(s) or writer/director(s), including their key credits
  • Project logline
  • Proposed pre-production dates
  • Proposed principal photography dates
  • Whether your project has been submitted for or has received funding from other BFI funds, including BFI NETWORK, including during development

Creative proposal

  • Story/synopsis
  • The creative vision
  • Project work undertaken to date
  • Links to relevant previous work
  • Declaring whether your project is an adaptation of an underlying work

Production

  • Production plan
  • Casting proposal
  • Heads of Department
  • Locations
  • Environmental impact

Finance

  • Development spend incurred to date
  • Details of the finance plan you’ll attach at the end of the form, e.g. which financial partners are confirmed, pending and any proposed funding strategies

Market

  • Pre-sale, UK distributor and/or sales agent details/proposal
  • Festival and general distribution strategy

BFI Diversity Standards

You should complete each section of the BFI Diversity Standards tab within the application form (you do not need to make a separate application with this information – it is all contained within the same application form). Please note that the information provided by applicants in their Diversity Standards forms will be anonymised and used to help inform future funding decisions, research and strategy.

Attachments

At the end of the form you will be asked to attach:

  • the script of your project in standard industry format, submitted as a PDF. This needs to be dated on its front page and should be a completed script rather than a treatment or outline
  • a detailed budget generated using either Excel or MovieMagic, submitted as a PDF, reflecting the cost requirements in What you can use the funding for above
  • a proposed finance plan, which matches the total of your submitted budget and details the status of any actual or proposed third party finance
  • a production timeline, detailing all stages of production through to final delivery
  • a draft shooting schedule generated using either in Excel or MovieMagic format, submitted as a PDF
  • any other materials expressing your ideas for the project e.g. mood board or reel, production design, images etc., to the extent that you’ve not provided these in the Creative Proposal section

Equality monitoring

You’ll be asked to complete an equality monitoring form when you submit your application. The data that you submit on this form will be confidential and anonymous and will not be seen by the staff assessing your application. Please note that we will not be able to put forward your application for assessment until you have completed the equality monitoring form.

If you have any questions when completing the application form please contact us on productioncoordinator@bfi.org.uk  

7. What happens after you apply

Once you’ve sent us your application we will send you confirmation of receipt within five working days.

If your application does not meet our eligibility criteria, we will email to tell you that we will not be able to consider it. If you have made a mistake in your application, then we may enable you to correct this, if that is the only reason that the application is considered ineligible.

How your application is assessed

If your project meets all of our eligibility criteria, then it will proceed to assessment in accordance with the assessment process outlined further below.

Assessment criteria

Your application will be assessed against how well it meets our six core priorities. We will also consider:

  • the ambition of the creative proposal
  • the extent to which the proposed film is likely to represent a creative progression in relation to the team’s previous work, and particularly for the director
  • the strength of the case made for the potential career impact of the film for filmmaking team.
  • the feasibility of the budget, its value for money and whether the film as described in the application requires the amount of money requested from the BFI
  • your demonstration of need for National Lottery funding. Our funding is not intended to substitute or replace existing or commercial funding or other income that would or might otherwise be available, or to fund activity at the same scale that can be achieved without our funding. National Lottery funds can only be awarded to applicants who demonstrate a compelling case for National Lottery support and a clear public benefit from the activity being funded
  • the overall balance of projects receiving support, to ensure variety in the nature of the projects funded by the BFI

When assessing applications, we will also take into account previous National Lottery awards received by the applicant producer and their company. In order to widen the range of recipients of BFI National Lottery funding, we will not generally prioritise applications from producers who have received BFI National Lottery feature production funding within the last 18 months.

Such applicants will need to demonstrate exceptional engagement with our core priorities, including through presenting a case for significant talent progression and wider industry impact, in order for us to consider making a further award to the same applicant within an 18-month period.

Assessment process

Following the closing dates for application for each funding round, the assessment process as outlined below will begin. At each stage, there will be projects that do not progress to the next stage. During the assessment process, we may contact you to ask for more information, in which case it may take us longer than the timeframe outlined below for us to reach a decision on your application.

  • Stage one: initial review of application, diversity standards and previous work
    Eligible applications will be assessed by two staff members from the BFI Filmmaking Fund team, as well as an independent external reader to provide us with an additional perspective. Throughout the assessment process we may share parts of your application with other BFI teams, or additional external consultants, to help with our assessment. External consultants participating in the assessment process will be required to maintain confidentiality regarding the application contents and to agree not to retain application materials following their review.
  • Stage two: reading of script and additional materials for longlisted projects
    The team will review the submitted script, and any additional documents for a secondary assessment.
  • Stage three: full ‘team read’ of initially shortlisted projects
    Projects that we consider to have responded most successfully to our core priorities and the wider assessment criteria above will progress to consideration at a ‘team read’ discussion with a wider range of BFI staff. This may include departments such as the Audiences Team, the Inclusion Team and internal advisory groups. We only expect to read and discuss a very limited number of projects, which means a significant number of projects will not progress to this point. Teams will be offered the opportunity to provide a short video, summarising their creative vision for the project. We will also review the submitted budget, finance plan, schedule and general production plan at this stage.
  • Stage four: interview with filmmaking team
    We will invite the filmmaking team for an interview to discuss the vision of their project further. This will include the creative proposal, production plan and audience and festival intentions. This does not mean that we have made a commitment to funding the project. All members of the filmmaking team should try to attend, and we may ask you to supply further information after the meeting before a decision to progress your application further is made.
  • Stage five: BFI Business Affairs and Production Finance meetings
    Producers of projects that reach the final stage of assessment will be required to meet with our Production Finance and Business Affairs teams to discuss the status and detail of their finance plan. At the same time, our Production team will review the proposed production budget. Following both such reviews, we may request that specific budget lines and/or allocations are amended and/or for further detail to be provide in relation to the finance plan, which may include asking the producer to seek additional and/or alternative funding from third-party sources, before we make a final funding decision.

We will also request the personal address and date of birth of the CEO or Managing Director of the organisation applying. Please note that our request for this information is not an indication or confirmation of funding and you will be informed separately of the funding decision on your application. We will use this data to run an identity check.

This is not a credit check and will not affect the ability of the CEO or Managing Director to receive credit from other organisations. We will be unable to submit your application to our decision-making committee until we have received your completed form.

We aim to give all applicants a final decision within 12 weeks of the closing date for the applicable funding round.

However, if we receive exceptionally high numbers of applications, or when there are other circumstances out of our control, it may take us longer to give you a decision. We will keep applicants updated if the timeframe is likely to be extended. 

8. Getting a decision

This section explains the final stages of our funding approval process.

Letter of Intent

If we decide in principle to take your application for funding forward, we will issue a formal but conditional expression of interest in funding your project (a ‘Letter of Intent’). You will need to sign the Letter of Intent and return it to the BFI within five days of issue. This may be useful in helping you to secure other investment or talent for your project.

The Letter of Intent will remain valid for a specified period of time, normally six months, so that our funds are not indefinitely tied up. After this period, we will be under no obligation to consider your project further, although we may, at our discretion, choose to issue a further time-limited Letter of Intent if there are compelling reasons for us to do so and sufficient funds remain available.

If we do not provide you with a Letter of Intent, or your Letter of Intent has expired, then you should not assume that we have made any formal expression of interest to fund your project.

Once we have received your signed Letter of Intent, projects will then be assigned a dedicated BFI Executive who will oversee the project.

Further discussions will then take place with you and our Production, Business Affairs and Production Finance departments, before we are able to formally commit to the project and submit it for approval by the BFI’s Lottery Finance Committee. This will involve reaching agreement on all of the following:

• Production budget
• Shooting script
• Main elements (such as key cast and crew)
• Production timelines and schedules
• Final finance plan that matches the production budget
• Recoupment schedule
• Sales agent (if attached), sales estimates and commercial terms
UK distributor (if attached) and commercial terms.

In exceptional circumstances, where there is clear evidence of need in order to finalise the finance plan and we have sufficient funds available, we may at our sole discretion elect to increase our offer to an amount in excess of our fixed funding cap of £1,000,000. 

Due to the amount of time and resources required to draft, negotiate and finalise all of the necessary financing documents ahead of production if, for any reason, we are unable to present a project to the BFI Lottery Finance Committee at least six weeks prior to the start of principal photography, we may withdraw our expression of interest to fund your project.

Lottery Finance Committee Consideration

We will submit funding recommendations to the BFI Lottery Finance Committee for approval and will inform applicants in writing of our decisions as soon as possible. Our decision on whether or not we wish to support your project is final.

If you’re successful

Upon confirmation of BFI Lottery Finance Committee approval for your project, the Business Affairs team will issue a formal offer letter in respect of the project (“Offer Letter”), which must be signed and returned to us within seven days of issue. The formal offer of funding will remain subject to signature of a production finance agreement with the BFI (“PFA”) within three months from the date of the Offer Letter.

In the event that that the PFA is not signed, and full financial closing of the financing of the project has not occurred, within that three-month period, then the BFI shall be entitled to review its decision to invest in your project and may elect to withdraw the offer entirely.

Please refer to section nine for a summary of the conditions that will apply to our funding.

BFI National Lottery funding is project-based, time-limited funding, and as such, there should be no expectation of ongoing support beyond the term of any award made. In exceptional circumstances however, such as when a film encounters unexpected challenges during production, we may offer to provide additional production funding, subject to approval by the BFI Lottery Finance Committee. If we do identify a need for additional funding, and we have sufficient funds available, then we will ask you to make a short additional application to us for the amount required.

If you’re unsuccessful

We may have turned down your application because we determined that the proposal:

  • did not sufficiently meet our core priorities, including in relation to engagement with the BFI Diversity Standards
  • was too ambitious for the budget
  • did not demonstrate enough relevant experience
  • was not yet developed enough
  • did not demonstrate sufficient need for National Lottery support and should be financed by other means

Resubmission

If your application has been previously declined by any BFI Production, Impact or Discovery funds, then unless there is substantial evidence of a significant change to your original proposal, you will not be able to resubmit it. This is usually a change of director or a significant rewrite of the material with a different writer.

We will also allow you to resubmit a project in situations where we have directly recommended further development or more robust preliminary financing of the project, where a project has been voluntarily withdrawn, or where a previous Letter of Intent has expired and we have confirmed that we remain interested in the project.

If your project meets any of the above criteria and you submit a new application for the same project at a future round of this fund, please ensure that you clearly identify the revised elements of the project in the new application.

If you are unsure if you meet the above criteria, prior to submitting an application please contact the Filmmaking Fund team on productioncoordinator@bfi.org.uk to cite your changes and confirm eligibility.

You can only apply for BFI Development funding with a project that has been declined for Discovery funding if we have invited you to do so.

Feedback on an unsuccessful application

If we had a meeting with you to discuss your application, you can ask for feedback on that application. We are a small team, so unfortunately that means that, generally, we’re unable to give feedback to other applicants.

We will keep the data and supporting materials you sent to us in line with our records retention policy.

We welcome your feedback on the application process and how we might improve it.

9. Conditions of funding

If we offer you an award, in addition to the General Conditions of National Lottery Funding, the following conditions will apply to your award.

  1. The BFI will pay the award in accordance with an agreed cashflow to a separate dedicated production account in the name of the applicant company or, where applicable, to another limited company registered in the UK established by the applicant specifically for the project.
  2. The BFI will not commence cashflow until it is satisfied that you have complied with certain conditions as set out in our production funding agreement. At our discretion, and subject to specific conditions, we may provide an advance in the form of ‘pre-closing cashflow’ up to a maximum amount of 10% of our funding, but there will be no automatic entitlement to this.
  3. The BFI funding will be recoupable by the BFI.
  4. The BFI Locked Box Corridor will apply to the BFI’s production funding. This is a 25% share of the BFI’s recouped investment in the production until the BFI has recouped 50% of its total investment, rising to 50% of the BFI’s recouped investment until the BFI has recouped 100% of its investment. This corridor of revenues is payable into a BFI Locked Box bank account held by the BFI for the benefit of the UK production company, writer(s) and director(s) of the project who may draw-down those funds and spend them on development or production of film projects, or on staff skills training, subject to certain conditions.
  5. The BFI supports the UK production company being entitled to recoup an amount equal to the UK tax credit advance included in the final finance plan for the production (subject to a cap of the actual amount of the UK tax credit proceeds, if lower). This is known as the UK Tax Credit Entitlement, and it will only be available to the UK production company if the other recouping financiers of the production agree. If available, the UK Tax Credit Entitlement will be payable, either alongside or (if required by the other recouping financiers of the production) after the BFI’s recoupment of its production funding, into the BFI Locked Box for the sole benefit of the UK production company, who may draw-down those funds for future development or production activity, or on staff skills training, subject to conditions. Further information on the BFI’s Locked Box initiative is available on the BFI Locked Box page.
  6. The BFI will require a proportionate share of financier net profits.
  7. You will be required to include the BFI/National Lottery animated logo and presentation credit at the start of the production and certain closing credits and logos at the end of the production. At the producer’s discretion, the applicable BFI Filmmaking Fund executive may also be accorded an Executive Producer credit.
  8. You will be required to assign a share of all rights (including copyright) in the finished production to the BFI, which the BFI shall hold in perpetuity and license back to you so as to allow you to make and exploit the production.
  9. You will need to establish clear title to your project i.e. demonstrate you have or can acquire all the rights necessary to produce and exploit the production.
  10. You will be required to clear worldwide rights in all media in perpetuity from all individuals or organisations who are contributing to, or whose material is to be featured in, the production on a full buy-out basis (save only for music public performance rights and any applicable US Guild residuals).
  11. The BFI may take a security interest over the UK production company and, where applicable, over any co-producer entity through which rights in the project may pass.
  12. You will be required to provide a contribution to the FSF levy of 0.5% of the project’s UK core expenditure (subject to the FSF cap).
  13. You will be required to ensure your production achieves BAFTA albert certification.This includes developing a carbon action plan and submitting both pre- and post-production carbon footprint calculations.
  14. You will be expected to put in place all customary production insurances (including errors and omissions insurance) on which the BFI must be named as a named insured or (in the case of errors and omissions insurance) as an additional insured.
  15. You may be asked to engage a completion guarantor and to provide a completion guarantee for your production.
  16. All revenues for the production must be collected by an independent collection agent, and the sales agent will be required to direct all distributors of the production to make payment of all minimum guarantees and overages in respect of the production to the collection account for the production.
  17. The BFI will require certain approvals over your production including in relation to the terms of all other finance, the identity and terms of appointment of the sales agent and key distributors, and all key production and financial documentation prepared in relation to the production.
  18. The BFI is keen to ensure that you receive your full entitlement to a reasonable producer fee and production company overhead from within the production budget and does not encourage deferral of any such amounts.
  19. If you deliver your production within budget the BFI will support you in being able to receive up to 50% (subject to an agreed cap) of any production underspend after payment to any UK tax credit funder of an amount equal to the reduction in the UK tax credit as a result of the underspend.
  20. You will be required to ensure that your project is produced in accordance with the requirements of all unions and guilds having jurisdiction and with all applicable laws and statutes.
  21. You will be required to adhere to and promote the set of principles aimed at tackling and preventing bullying, harassment and racism in the screen industries commissioned by the BFI and partner organisations. This entails taking active steps to help tackle and prevent bullying, harassment and racism in the screen industries and, in particular, in connection with the funded project.
  22. You will be required to provide certain delivery materials to the BFI, the costs of which must be included in the budget of the production.
  23. You will be required to procure that the BFI and/or the National Lottery are entitled to use the BFI delivery materials to publicise by any means the involvement of the BFI and/or the National Lottery in the production, for their own internal purposes, for the general promotion of the BFI and/or the National Lottery by way, inter alia, of use of clips from the production in their corporate videos and/or on the BFI and/or the National Lottery website and to deposit any of such delivery materials at the BFI National Archive.
  24. You will be required to ensure that any agreement for the distribution of your production in the UK provides for the availability of soft-subtitling and audio-description materials in cinemas and on any video-on-demand, DVD or Blu-ray disc release of the production.
  25. The BFI will hold back 5% of its funding (capped at £50,000) until delivery to the BFI of specified delivery materials, including disability access materials (and a letter from the UK distributor or Sales agent confirming receipt of the same), an Equality Monitoring Report (which helps us to measure against the BFI Diversity Standards form that you submitted), confirmation of albert certification and a final audited cost report certified by an independent auditor.
  26. The BFI will expect to receive information about the progress of the production e.g. regular production reports and dailies, and to be able to attend any stages of production.
  27. The BFI will have consultation rights over the assembly and all cuts of the production and a shared approval over the final cut (alongside other financiers, as is customary).
  28. You may be required to comply with certain requests in relation to interns or trainees. You may be expected, if asked and where feasible and within reason, to participate in any apprenticeship schemes run by the BFI Filmmaking Fund, either during production or at some point in the future.
  29. You may also be asked to provide access to the production, or the completed project, for other BFI activities such as film education or fundraising screenings and/or from time to time to make yourself, the writer(s) and/or the director(s) of your production available (subject to professional commitments) to provide industry training or mentoring, if the BFI reasonably requests.
  30. You will be required to deliver against the undertakings made by you in relation to the BFI Diversity Standards. Failure to deliver against those undertakings without good cause may affect your ability to receive future funding from the BFI.
  31. Subsidy Control: All awards made under through the BFI Filmmaking Fund will be compliant with the UK’s Subsidy Control Act 2022 and any other relevant subsidy control rules and regulations, as required by the UK government, which are subject to change. In order to meet subsidy transparency requirements, the BFI is required to publish details of any successful application which receives more than £100,000 of funding (including cumulatively over the course of development or production of the film) on the subsidy transparency database (the Subsidy Database) within three months of the date of the award (or the date at which the cumulated awards exceed £100,000). The details published will include at a minimum:
    • Amount of subsidy received (the award amount)
    • Company name
    • Company registration number
    • Company size
    • That the company is a provider of goods
    • Region
    • Sector

This is separate and in addition to the BFI’s publication of all National Lottery awards made on our own website.

10. Appendix A – Full list of BFI delivery materials

Successful applicants will be provided with this a copy of this list featuring the BFI contact details needed for submission.

Marketing/PR items

As part of our work supporting UK film, the BFI needs to illustrate the breadth of work we fund. This is done by gathering case study information on the films and filmmakers, sharing in the success stories of our projects and promoting projects at various stages of its life cycle.

During pre-production

  • Completed filmmaker questionnaires for the director(s), producer(s) and writer(s)
  • Headshots of the writer(s), director(s) and UK producer(s) (at least 300 dpi and ideally a professional photograph)

During the production, at project completion and/or during the promotional campaign for the UK release

  • At least one still and one behind the scenes image from the film
  • A recorded ‘Thank You’ message to National Lottery players for supporting the project (optional)
  • Trailer files (Pro Res and online versions)
  • A clip to use in BFI Marketing materials (e.g. the Filmmaking Fund sizzle reel)
  • A bespoke/exclusive piece of content for the BFI social channels

Initial items to be delivered BEFORE final credit sign off

Below logo and credit items must be sent for approval prior to final credit sign off.

The animated logo sequence in a low resolution Quicktime or equivalent file format
Links to streaming platforms are acceptable. For the avoidance of doubt the animated logo sequence shall contain the BFI animated logo in a form provided and approved by BFI.

The end credit sequence in a low resolution Quicktime file format
Links to streaming platforms are acceptable. For the avoidance of doubt the end credit sequence shall contain the BFI static National Lottery logo in a form provided and approved by BFI. The static logo must be placed immediately before the copyright credit and immediately after the wording ‘Made with the support of the BFI’s Filmmaking Fund’.

Digital items to be supplied to the BFI National Archive

Delivery of the following digital items is a requirement of BFI production financing. The items are acquired by the BFI National Archive for the purposes of long term preservation. This completed PDF checklist should be included as part of final delivery.

For films produced for digital cinema exhibition, we require the following set of materials:

One clone of the Digital Cinema Distribution Master (‘DCDM’)

The DCDM is delivered on a professional quality ExFat formatted portable hard drive that contains one complete clone of the Digital Cinema Distribution Master (‘DCDM’)

The DCDM is the one used in the Digital Cinema post-production process

The DCDM contains all the finished items required to master the DCP, including:

  • The image files
  • The audio files
  • Any appropriate subtitle/caption files in accordance with the BFI Digital Cinema Delivery Specifications

Do not send any additional elements generated as part of the feature post-production process or Digital Source Master (“DSM”).  Further information regarding DCDM and DSM can be found in the Digital Cinema Initiative (‘DCI’) System Specification.

One unencrypted format Digital Cinema Package (‘DCP’)

  • The DCP is manufactured from the DCDM and delivered on a professional quality portable hard drive suitable for use with Digital Cinema Distribution (CruDrive or CruDrive Mini are preferred), or, with prior agreement, the DCP is supplied via a secure file transfer portal as a .zip file
  • The drive containing the DCP is formatted in compliance with the Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) specifications given in the BFI Digital Cinema Delivery Specifications document, Appendix 2.2
  • The DCP includes the required enhanced access materials as described in BFI Digital Cinema Delivery Specifications document, Appendix 2.7
  • A suitable DCP validation report is included as a file in the DCP package, or in the .zip file transfer as described in the BFI Digital Cinema Delivery Specifications document, Appendix 2.9
  • The DCP is the final version of the film as used for UK theatrical release and created in accordance with the SMPTE and DCI specifications

The DCP will not be accepted by the BFI if it is encrypted or the package fails to include enhanced access materials as described in BFI Digital Cinema Delivery Specifications document, Appendix 2.7

One Pro Res 4444 Quicktime mezzanine file (‘ProRes’)

The ProRes will be delivered on a professional quality portable hard drive or, with prior agreement, transferred via an appropriate secure file transfer portal

The Pro Res Quicktime mezzanine file is delivered on one of the following: 

  • the DCDM hard drive
  • separate hard drive

The ProRes 4444 Quicktime file is supplied at the same frame rate as the DCP.

This must be supplied as one of the following:

  • When production is mastered @24fps for Cinema distribution:
    • ProRes 4444 Quicktime [.mov] filE(see Apple ProRes White paper)
    • Rec2020 — RGB — Full Range – 2.6 Gamma – frame rate and resolution as DCP
       
  • When production is mastered at 24fps for Cinema distribution or 25fps for HD Broadcast:
    • ProRes 422HQ Quicktime [.mov] file (see Apple ProRes White paper)
    • 1080p[frame rate as mastered] — Rec709 — Y,CbCr – SMPTE range – 2.2or 2.4 Gamma
       
  • When production is mastered at 25fps for HD Broadcast:

All born-digital non-moving image deliverables (credits, stills, posters, certificates) should be included on its own drive. The folder should be called ‘non-moving image deliverables’.

MD5 checksum

An MD5 checksum is generated for all files in the DCDM and ProRes and provided to the BFI National Archive to serve as a file integrity check

The MD5 is generated from the finished files prior to their transfer to a hard drive or file transfer portal for delivery to BFI.  The format is either .txt or .csv file

One Watermarked screener file

Video file should contain the text “Property of the BFI” burnt in at the bottom of the image

Video file should conform to the below spec:

  • Codec — H.264 (AVC) Main Profile
  • Video – (Minimum Requirements) Variable Bit Rate (VBR) 1.25Mbps, Resolution 960x540
  • Progressive
  • Audio – Stereo, AAC 128kbps

35mm film print

Where the production is delivering a final 35mm print for UK theatrical release, a pristine show copy is produced for the BFI National Archive. If the film has been produced in a foreign language the print shall incorporate dialogue subtitles in the English language

Enhanced Access Materials specifications

The following enhanced access materials are supplied to the BFI as part of the DCP and DCDM:

  • narrative audio track for the visually impaired: narrative description of content on screen
  • open captions (English): Open captions are text displayed to assist hearing impaired audience members. Captions’ text includes scene dialogue and descriptions of key sounds i.e. “phone rings” or “door slams”. Open captions are rendered by the server or projector and will display the timed text captions on screen, visible to the entire audience
  • closed captions (English): Closed captions are text displayed to assist hearing impaired audience members. Captions’ text includes scene dialogue and descriptions of key sounds i.e. “phone rings” or “door slams”. Closed captions are generally presented off-screen on dedicated devices and are not generally visible to the entire audience

   The following enhanced access materials are supplied to the BFI as part of the Pro Res:

  • hearing impaired captions in .stl format or timed text format as described in the BFI Digital Cinema Delivery Specifications document, Appendix 3.7
  • visually impaired narrative [VI-N] audio track as described in the
  • BFI Digital Cinema Delivery Specifications document, Appendix 3.8

Digital items to be supplied to the BFI National Archive

This section details what credits and publicity materials need to be supplied for our archive.

Credits

We require the following credits:

  • One Word or Excel document (not PDF) of the final approved version of the full list of the main and end credits for the Film. 

These will be imported into the BFI’s Collections Information Database.

Publicity Materials:

We require the following publicity materials:

All born-digital non-moving image deliverables (credits, stills, posters, certificates) should be included on its own drive. The folder should be called ‘non-moving image deliverables’

  • One full master set of approved production stills, including behind the scenes and any special stills publicity campaigns

Stills should be submitted in the format in which they were produced and distributed, whether born digital or print.  These should be in colour for full colour campaigns, or black and white where this has been prioritised for the campaign. As either embedded metadata or a separate listing, the stills should include full title; photographer credits; and any captions used in the campaign. Any necessary rights credits, restrictions or proof of clearances should be supplied, including studio rights, photographer rights, and approval rights of any individuals featured. Where possible, please supply files as uncompressed TIFFs, ideally 600ppi at true size (minimum 300ppi at true size).  If TIFFs are not available, JPEGs should ideally by uncompressed JPEG 2000s, 600ppi at true size (minimum 300ppi at true size).

  • One written publicity pack

Where available: A written publicity pack/press release, ideally including a short and/or long synopsis and other publicity copy such as biographies of Principal Cast, Individual Producer(s), Director, Writer(s) and key crew, production information, interviews with actors and other persons connected with the Film, feature stories and news releases. This may be in hard copy or electronic format.

  • Two hard copies of any flyers, postcards or promotional paper-based ephemera (excluding large format standees) produced.

Shooting script

  • One PDF copy of the final shooting script.

Where possible a hard copy should be provided, in addition to the PDF, with the title page signed by Principal Cast and key HODs.

Posters

  • Three print copies of the lead poster
  • One hi-res digital file of the lead poster artwork by large file transfer
  • One copy of any alternative posters or special campaigns (including teaser, DVD etc.)

Please indicate the design or advertising agency responsible for the poster where possible.

Additional documentation

Within three months of the delivery date, please supply the following:

  • a fully completed online BFI Equality Monitoring Report
  • proof of albert Certification
  •  proof of a carbon action plan during pre-production and albert Certification. Full details can be found in albert’s Production Handbook
  • one PDF copy of the ScreenSkills Film Skills Fund Levy invoice
  • one PDF copy of the trainee list
  • a list of all trainees and interns engaged on the Film including names, positions held and where sourced, or confirmation and explanation as to why no such trainees or interns were so engaged.
  • one copy of the Step Up list
  • a list of all Step Up crew engaged on the Film including names, positions held and where sourced, or confirmation and explanation as to why no such Step Up crew was engaged
  • one copy of the Final British Film certificate
  • one copy of the UK Distributor Letter
  • one audited Statement