Making an application to the BFI National Lottery UK Focus Fund

This guide gives you advice and recommendations on how to write a good application for the BFI National Lottery UK Focus Fund.

1. Overview

This guide is for organisations who want to apply to the BFI National Lottery UK Focus Fund for funding to deliver UK-focused activity at an established international festival, market, co-production forum, or another industry event or platform with international reach dedicated to screen content.

This funding aims to increase the visibility of UK talent and content, and to connect UK content creators with their international counterparts to increase the impact and success of the UK screen sector’s creativity and entrepreneurship. Your activity should be designed to increase the awareness and demand for UK content, talent, expertise and co-production opportunities from international partners and buyers, and should stimulate cultural exchange activity, which in turn will result in increased collaboration.

The ambition of the UK Focus Fund is to achieve a more sustainable independent UK screen sector by increasing production and export activity, as well as the number of international collaborations in screen production.

2. Delivering against our National Lottery Strategy

All activity funded through BFI National Lottery UK Focus Fund should deliver against the following outcomes of the BFI’s National Lottery strategy:

Primary Outcomes

  • An increase in the international engagement and reach of the UK screen sector (4.2)
  • Creative talent is supported and nurtured, as they emerge and throughout their careers (2.2)

Secondary Outcome

  • A wider range of stories are told that otherwise wouldn’t be (2.4)
  • Better support available for small and medium-sized enterprises and independents to develop their businesses (4.1)

Working towards these outcomes, the Fund will support an increase in:

  • Screen content production and co-production activity
  • International investment in UK content production
  • Visibility of UK content and talent
  • UK professionals engaging in international collaborations
  • Demand for independent UK content around the world
  • Awareness of UK’s offer amongst international partners
  • Cultural exchange

Key Performance Indicators

The BFI will measure the success of the Fund using the following Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and all applicants to the UK Focus Fund should draft their own proposed KPIs to align with these:

  • Number of participants (UK industry and international delegates) attending UK Focus events
  • UK participants based outside London. Target: 50%
  • UK participants new to BFI National Lottery funding. Target: 25%
  • Carbon footprint calculations submitted by awardees. Target: 100%
  • Amount of UK co-production activity, export activity, and sales enabled by UK Focus activity. Monitoring only
  • Number of new contacts made by UK participants (and countries engaged). Monitoring only
  • Number of UK Focus events and their geographical spread. Monitoring only

In addition, all National Lottery awards must deliver against our three principles for National Lottery funding:

  • Equity, diversity and inclusion
  • UK-wide
  • Environmental Sustainability

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

We champion everyday inclusion at the BFI. A clearly defined and communicated set of Inclusion Targets gives us, our partners and the wider industry ambitious goals for a more diverse screen sector and representative audiences. The activity of the UK Focus Fund as a whole will contribute towards achieving the BFI’s Inclusion Targets, which are:

  • Disability (including those identifying as D/deaf or neurodiverse and those with a longstanding physical or mental diagnosis) 18%
  • Ethnically diverse (London) 40%
  • Ethnically diverse (outside London) 30%
  • Gender (50-50 balance of men and women identifying within the gender binary) 50%
  • LGBTQIA+ (including those identifying outside the gender binary) 10%
  • Working class background 39%

You will be expected to set KPIs in line with the above BFI inclusion targets, in relation to UK participants in the UK Focus activity.

BFI Diversity Standards

As part of your application, you must complete the BFI Diversity Standards tab so we can understand your intentions around diversity, inclusion and representation for your project. This means detailing how you will address industry under-representation in relation to disability, gender, race, age, sexual orientation, religion, socio-economic status and geographical location.

If successful, you will need to report following the conclusion of your activity, evaluating how you have delivered against the aims of the Diversity Standards in practice.

Applicants to this fund need to respond to the Diversity Standards on a summary level. This means you are expected to fill in an overall response to each Standard A-E, not individual criteria. You are only expected to respond to each Standard where you have relevant activity and staff, but you should still try to fill as much detail as possible. Please refer to the guidance for ideas of how to respond given your project and activity type, the size of your company or project team, and any early career or career development roles you are able to offer.

While you should reference the activity most directly related to the project you are applying for funding for, you may talk about the wider event or organisation where relevant.

If your plans are not fully developed at the point of application, then please state the stage you are currently at and explain how you will turn your aims into actions. If we are interested in supporting your project we may ask you to further develop your ideas before we make a funding decision.

If your team or organisation has a long-standing commitment to diversity, enabling you to meet the BFI Diversity Standards by continuing your current practice, your application should outline how you will build on past achievements and show leadership to the wider industry.

If you have any questions or concerns about how the Standards might apply to your project, particularly if you have not used the Standards before, please contact or call 020 7173 3273.


The BFI funds activity throughout the UK. This includes national, regional, and localised provision to ensure that communities throughout the UK feel the benefit of the screen industries and culture. You’ll need to tell us how your proposed activity will be delivered to support the BFI’s UK-wide principle, for example by attracting participants from across the UK, or fostering support for UK projects based or produced outside of London and the South East of England.

Environmental Sustainability

You’ll need to tell us how you will embed the principle of environmental sustainability throughout your funded activity. This includes describing what you’re doing to reduce your negative impact (such as reducing carbon emissions or minimising single-use plastic) as well as what you’re doing to increase your positive impact. If you are offered an award, the BFI will provide dedicated expertise to support you in addressing this principle.

3. Check if you’re eligible

Your event

Eligible events include:

  • Festivals
  • Markets
  • Co-production, co-financing forums,
  • Pitching events
  • Showcases
  • Summits
  • Conferences

Other types of international platform that can demonstrate significant participation or engagement from international film industry representatives may be eligible for funding. If you think your event should be eligible for the fund but it does not fit into any of these categories, please email us at

The event:

  • Can take place in a physical format (in the UK or abroad) or online
  • Must have been established for at least three years preceding the proposed activity start date
  • Must demonstrate significant international industry profile and attendance

In addition, the event must be dedicated to screen content within at least one of the following categories:

  • Feature films – fiction, documentary, animation – for theatrical and/or online release
  • Programmes – documentary and/or animation only – for broadcast television, video-on-demand services or other forms of online release
  • Narrative-led interactive/immersive media for commercial distribution on digital platforms

Your organisation

Your organisation must be a legally constituted entity according to the laws of the country in which you are based and registered. The following types of organisations are eligible:

  • Private companies
  • Non-profit organisations, associations, charities, foundations
  • Municipalities/local authorities or similar organisations within your territory.

Applicants must be applying to deliver their intervention on a not-for-profit basis and the activity being funded by BFI is and will remain a non-economic activity.

Individuals cannot apply.

Get in touch with the team if you’re unsure that your organisation is eligible for the UK Focus Fund:

4. What you can use the fund for

You can apply for an award between £3,000 and £80,000. 

Awards will be made in accordance with the scale, ambition and reach of each proposal. We expect the majority of awards to be between £10,000 and £40,000.

Partnership funding

For your application to be eligible you will need to demonstrate an element of partnership support which can include cash or in-kind support (BFI will not 100% fund the UK Focus activity). Partnership contributions are an important demonstration that there is genuine support for your activity from stakeholders and other partners in your country and will be taken in to account as part of assessment.

Partnership funding does not have to be secured at the point of application, but will need to be secured in advance of any award from BFI and before the proposed activity start date. Other BFI funds cannot be used as partnership funding and UK National Lottery Funding from another distributor should not be the only form of partnership funding.

Your activity

You can only use the award for additional or enhanced UK-Focused activity taking place as part of your eligible event. This can be in person or online.

The award must be used to increase the visibility of UK talent or content and connect UK content creators with their international counterparts. The types of activity could include:

  • Pitching sessions
  • One-to-one meetings
  • Screenings of UK content to international buyers and/or decision makers
  • Structured networking for UK participants with international industry representatives
  • Q&As and panels at festivals or markets
  • Standalone events outside the UK and online
  • B2B screen industry platform events that have a strong UK element

In most cases, the proposed activity should not be part of the core, existing activity of your Event. We will however consider activities where the whole Event is focussed on the UK as long as it complies with other eligibility criteria and demonstrates a strong alignment with the purpose of the Fund, to increase the visibility of UK talent and content, and to connect UK content creators with their international counterparts.

Activity focused on cultural exchange and BFI’s overarching priorities of Diversity and Inclusion and environmental sustainability are also in scope to highlight UK’s commitment to and achievements in these areas in the international context.

We expect the majority of the proposed activity to be one-off, but we will also consider proposals where the UK Focus activity takes place over up to three consecutive years. In these instances, if you require BFI funding for each of those up to 3 years then your application should be based on a single, multi-year award covering the full term of the project delivery which must be completed by no later than 31 March 2026. You would need to justify this approach and we will assess its merits. In any case, the funding can only be used to cover costs associated with each individual or annual edition of the UK Focus activity which would be expected to take place over a number of days, and cannot be used for any ongoing or year-round organisational costs.

When you’re ineligible

You should not apply to the UK Focus Fund if:

  • Your proposed activity relates only to curating strands or seasons of UK content
  • You are seeking funding to cover the operational costs of core, existing activity
  • You are seeking seed funding
  • You are seeking funding to cover the start-up costs of online platforms.

Funds are not intended to substitute or replace existing funding or income that would otherwise be available, or to fund activity at the same scale that can go ahead without an award. National Lottery funds can only be awarded to applicants who demonstrate need and a clear public benefit from the activity being funded.

BFI National Lottery Funding is project-based, time-limited funding, and as such, there should be no expectations of ongoing support beyond the term of any awards made.

Eligible costs

You can use the award for activity delivery costs which should be at a level to maximise the public benefit and value for money of the Fund and can include but are not limited to:

  • Travel, accommodation and subsistence of UK participants in the activity
  • Travel, accommodation and subsistence of speakers and contributors
  • Venue hire, room, equipment and facilities
  • Promotion and marketing that is directly related to the UK Focus activity
  • Staff costs directly related to delivering the UK Focus activity

Ineligible costs

Examples of common ineligible costs:

  • Any costs incurred prior to an offer of funding from the BFI
  • Core costs for day to day running of your organisation not associated with the activity
  • Staff costs not directly associated with delivering the UK Focus activity
  • Costs relating to business as usual work or an extension of ongoing work including the general running costs associated with your event or year-round costs
  • Capital expenditure
  • Development of IP intended for commercial gain
  • Activity that is already specifically supported by another external source of funding
  • Promotional or other activity (stands, printed brochures) which does not support an environmental sustainability policy
  • Costs of activity that does not directly increase the visibility of UK talent and content, and connect UK content creators with international counterparts.

This list is not exhaustive and we may inform you that other types of activity within your application cannot be supported by a BFI award.

Grants we make are ‘outside the scope’ of VAT (or your country’s tax equivalent) and should be listed in your accounts as a grant and not, for example, as a fee for any services supplied to the BFI. We will not pay VAT (or your country’s equivalent) on top of the award amount offered. Awards will be paid in UK sterling. You should get financial advice from your own accountant or the relevant tax office.


In your application you will need to identify the specific activities you will deliver (your ‘deliverables’) using the funding, which will enable you to meet your KPIs. Your deliverables should include:

  • Physical or virtual delivery of UK Focus activity to include delivery against approved session schedule involving the agreed speakers and minimum UK participants
  • Submission of an Impact Report that responds to the defined Fund KPIs (see section 2), two months after completion of the activity (see section 8, conditions of funding)
  • Completion and submission of a carbon footprint for the funded activity and/or overall event (details of which are to be included within the Impact Report)

5. How to apply

When you can apply

Applications are accepted year round and must be submitted at least 12 weeks before the start of the proposed activity, and we would encourage you to submit your application 6 months in advance of the activity start date.

Information you need to provide

On the application form you’ll need to provide:

  • Project overview (a brief summary of the proposed UK-focused activity)
  • An outline of your established event or platform, detailing:
    • the total number of annual/regular participants domestic and international;
    • its international reach (number of countries participating);
    • any information regarding the impact of the event/platform to date, including qualitative and/or quantitative data (where available); and
    • evidence of your ability and capacity to carry out the proposed UK Focus activity.
  • Detailed activity plan, evidencing a strong potential to help increase visibility of UK talent and content and to connect UK content creators with international counterparts to increase the impact and success of UK’s creativity and entrepreneurship. You should consider the following questions: 
    • to what extent is the proposed UK Focus activity additional to your core activity?
    • how will you attract and select UK participants in the supported activity?
    • how will the activity help support UK producers/content creators increase their international network and set up partnerships/collaborations?
    • how will the UK Focus activity impact the number of participants in the established event/platform?
    • how will the UK Focus activity further the development of UK content?
    • how will UK content be showcased?
    • what is the size and the composition of audience that will be reached with any screenings?
  • A comprehensive timeline, demonstrating how you will deliver, resource and manage the UK Focus activity (you may attach this to your application as a separate document if you have a preferred format)
  • Proposed outcomes and KPIs for your activity – you should propose your own  activity outcomes and KPIs that align with the Fund-level outcomes and KPIs stated at Section 2 and outline your plans for collection and ongoing monitoring of any relevant data
  • Proposed deliverables for your UK Focus activity – you should clearly set out deliverables that relate to achieving your KPIs
  • Response to BFI’s Principles of Funding:
    • EDI – a summary of how the proposal responds to equity, diversity and inclusion. You will be expected to provide an outline of your outreach plans in relation to attracting and selecting UK participants that will enable you to meet your activity KPIs. For example this might include partnering with organisations that have networks focused on underrepresented groups. You should also provide detail on accessibility requirements for all events and published material.
    • UK-wide – a summary of how the proposal ensures engagement with beneficiaries from across the UK, or fosters support for projects based outside of London and the South East of England. You should outline your outreach plans in relation to attracting and selecting UK participants in the activity, including how they will reach out to and partner with organisations across the UK. You might include some regionally focussed exchanges (e.g. French regions with UK nations & regions). Content featured at events and in the campaign will need to represent the whole of the UK.
    • Environmental Sustainability – how the proposed activity responds to net zero and broader environmental sustainability, showing due consideration for attendance in-person vs online.
  • How your proposal responds to the BFI’s Diversity Standards
  • An indication of the level of non-financial support you would value or require from the BFI’s International team, if your application is successful, in terms of engagement, participation and promotion to the UK industry through BFI channels in order to deliver the UK Focus activity
  • Details of any partners or sponsors of the UK Focus activity and the wider Event

You will need to attach the following documents to your application:

  • Total activity budget; a detailed income and expenditure budget for the UK film-focused activity showing proposed third party income, participant and/or partner details and how that expenditure fits within the overall budget of your activity
  • Sustainability policy (optional); your organisation’s overall sustainability policy, if there is one in place, and/or sustainability plan for the relevant international event

Submitting an application

You need to create an account to make your application online. You can save your application and return to it later.

If you already have an account you can log in.

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

You can view a PDF preview of the application form below.

6. What happens after you apply

  1. You’ll get confirmation we received your application within 1-2 working days.
  2. You’ll get a final decision within 8 weeks.

If we need additional information from you, it may take us longer to reach a decision on your application.

How your application is assessed 

Once you have submitted your application, the BFI will undertake an assessment of the application focusing on the following criteria:

  • The international profile and reach of the eligible event
  • Evidence of your ability and capacity to carry out the activity (e.g. relevant evidence of success and impact of attending from previous participants)
  • The extent to which the proposed UK Focus activity supports the Fund outcomes and is additional to core activity
  • Reach and ambition of the proposed outcomes and KPIs
  • Ability of the proposed activity to create substantial networks for UK participants
  • Visibility of UK talent and projects within the event
  • Quality and value for money of the proposed activity

Applications for activities that duplicate or are similar to those already provided by other markets or platforms within the same territory are unlikely to be successful.

When assessing your application we will also consider:

  • How you have managed any previous BFI awards
  • Your demonstration of need for National Lottery funding
  • Whether there is a clear UK public benefit to the proposed activity
  • The level of partnership support, including in-kind contributions  
  • The conditions set out in the National Lottery Funding General Conditions

We may share parts of your application with other BFI teams or external consultants to help us assess it.

Funding Committee consideration

Following assessment of each application, funding recommendations will be made to the BFI Funding Committee. is the final stage of the funding decision process. We undertake due diligence assessments of the applications we are recommending to our decision-making committee for funding. As part of this, before submitting an application to the committee, we will request the bank details of the lead applicant.

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. Please note that 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.

All applicants will be informed in writing of the decision on their application. If your application is declined, all supporting materials will be deleted from your submission in line with our record retention policy.

How we prioritise applications 

We are unlikely to be able to support every application that we receive. We prioritise proposals that:

  • Best deliver on the fund objective and outcomes
  • Offer value for money and have the greatest potential to unlock additional partnership funding
  • Use an innovative and creative approach
  • Best address the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion; environmental sustainability; and UK wide

With limited funds available, we may prioritise activity taking place within Events that are dedicated to feature film.

7. Getting a decision

If you’re successful 

  • You will receive a written offer of funding.
  • You will need to sign the offer of funding and return it to the BFI within 21 days.  

Your offer of funding will set out details of how you’ll receive the funding, how to use it and how we expect you to report to us.

Read the Conditions of Funding section below and General Conditions of National Lottery Funding  to find out what you will have to do if you are offered an award.

If you’re unsuccessful 

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

  • Did not fit our funding objectives and outcomes
  • Did not demonstrate a strong enough commitment to one or all of the following Principles: equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI); environmental sustainability; UK-wide 
  • Was too ambitious for the budget
  • Did not demonstrate enough relevant experience
  • Was not developed enough
  • Did not demonstrate sufficient need for National Lottery support and should be financed by other means

If you operate an annual event, you will not be able to resubmit an application for the same year but may be able to submit for a future year if you can demonstrate a significant change to your proposal.

Feedback on an unsuccessful application

If we had a meeting with you to discuss your project you can ask for feedback on your application. We’re a small team and unfortunately that means 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.

8. Conditions of Funding

If you are offered an award from us, in addition to the General Conditions of National Lottery Funding  for successful applicants, the following conditions will apply to your award:

Programme-specific Conditions

Funding will be paid in two or three instalments and part of the award will be held back until delivery to and approval by BFI of the impact report.

You will need to assess the impact of the support against the above KPIs by submitting an impact report within two months of the delivery of the UK Focus activity. This will ask for detail including:

  • A summary of what happened at the UK Focus activity, including an analysis of its successes
  • Actual take-up and engagement of the Eligible Event’s regular participants with the UK Focus activity
  • Analysis of industry feedback on the quality and usefulness of UK Focus activity (e.g. via participant questionnaires)
  • Analysis of KPIs
  • A cost statement setting out actual income and expenditure against the budget (please note that if expenditure is less than the anticipated budget, the BFI may proportionately reduce the amount of the award payable)
  • Name and contact details of all participants in the UK Focus activity (which must be obtained in compliance with data protection regulations)
  • Name and contact details of all industry partners and corporate sponsors involved directly in the UK Focus activity
  • a copy of the programme for the Eligible Event (if applicable)

You will also be required to participate in all reasonable requests by the BFI to facilitate the collection of UK participants’ demographic information to enable the BFI to report against its Inclusion Targets for this Fund. In addition, you and the UK participants may be expected to participate in evaluation of the activity at a later date.

Please note that any BFI award will be payable in UK pound sterling and the amount of funding offered cannot be increased to take into account any currency fluctuations. 

The BFI will also require in relation to the UK Focus activity:

  • agreement as to the level of participation required from BFI as a strategic partner;
  • regular project meetings (or conference calls) to review progress; these could be weekly when in proximity to an event;
  • regular budget reports detailing income and expenditure to date;
  • approval of overall branding, design and publicity materials;
  • approval over the identity and terms of all corporate sponsors and industry partners.

Funded activity should also make use of the ‘We are UK Film’ brand to show the activity’s connectivity with related initiatives and maximise the impact of UK screen content overall in the marketplace.

All awardees will be required to work with our designated cultural sustainability partner to assess their environmental impact. They will be required to calculate the carbon footprint of their funded activity using our designated partner. For awards made over multiple years, an annual footprint will be required. Further guidance and support will be provided to you once the award period begins.