Alice Cabañas has been appointed as the new head of BFI NETWORK, to lead its UK-wide talent development programme. Formerly BFI NETWORK talent executive in the South West, Cabañas will continue to be based in Bristol and will report to BFI’s director of Film Fund, Mia Bays.
As head of BFI NETWORK Cabañas will be responsible for its overall management including its funding, its professional development programmes such as BFI Flare x BAFTA, NETWORK Weekender and NETWORK@LFF, and NETWORK’s digital platform. She will work closely with the BFI NETWORK talent executives, BFI Film Fund colleagues, and industry partners such as Doc Society, BAFTA, BIFA and the British Council.
BFI NETWORK is next opening its funding round for shorts and early development in England on Thursday 14 March, which is the single round for 2022/23 as the BFI comes to the end of its current strategy period.
Cabañas joins the BFI as it is developing its 10-year National Lottery funding strategy from April 2023, and will be involved in setting out how the BFI can best use Good Causes National Lottery funding to support early career development for writers, directors and producers in the screen sector. The new strategy is due to be announced in September 2022 following an extensive consultation with both the public and industry.
“I am thrilled Alice will be moving into a central role in the NETWORK team, and at such a pivotal moment,” said Bays. “As we are starting to set out how we can best use National Lottery funding from 2023 to discover and nurture future talent in the vital and formative initial stages, we will hugely benefit from Alice’s experience and insight. She also brings a wealth of firsthand knowledge of engaging and working with grassroots talent outside of London and knows where the potential lies.”
Cabañas said: “I feel passionately about supporting new filmmaking talent, and improving access to funding and development opportunities for emerging filmmakers throughout the UK. During the last four years as a talent executive in the South West I’ve helped regional filmmakers develop their creative practice and take their next steps, and it’s been hugely fulfilling to work with some of the most exciting new voices coming out of the region. I can’t wait to continue this work on a national level with our partners. This feels like an exciting time to join BFI NETWORK – on the cusp of a new strategy and working with new head of Film Fund, Mia Bays. I’m looking forward to getting started, and helping to develop the new UK-wide strategy for new talent as we move towards 2023 and beyond.”
Recent BFI NETWORK successes include BIFA-nominated shorts Precious Hair and Beauty by John Ogunmuyiwa and Egúngún by Olive Nwosu. While a number of NETWORK alumni have gone on to make their debut features, including Prano Bailey-Bond (Censor), Marley Morrison (Sweetheart) and Dionne Edwards (Pretty Red Dress).
Supported by National Lottery funding, BFI NETWORK seeks to discover and support talented writers, directors and producers at the start of their careers. BFI NETWORK talent executives are based across the UK’s regions and nations providing editorial support and professional guidance, as well as funding for short films and debut feature development, plus a range of professional and creative development programmes.
In her former role as BFI NETWORK talent executive, Cabañas oversaw short film and early feature development funding in the South West. Prior roles include film programme manager at British Council, where she managed the short film and new talent support offer and worked closely with international programmers and buyers, and co-director at Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival.
Cabañas takes over from James Weddup, who has been interim head of BFI NETWORK for the past nine months, as a secondment, while continuing core elements of his ongoing role as senior manager – operations, partners and projects. Weddup will be returning to his senior manager post following a handover period with Alice.
Watershed is currently recruiting for a new talent executive for the South West to replace Cabañas.
BFI NETWORK is supported by National Lottery funding from the BFI, it is thanks to National Lottery players, who raise more than £30 million each week for good causes across the UK, that projects like these are possible.