9 ambitious high-end shorts greenlit by BFI and Film4, backing UK talent

Future Takes awards up to £90,000 per project, offering a vital stepping stone to progress the careers of emerging filmmakers.

28 September 2023

Future Takes, a new fund supporting short films

The BFI and Film4 today reveal nine short films funded through Future Takes, thanks to investment from Film4 and BFI National Lottery funding. Each filmmaking team is awarded between £55,000 and £90,000 to create an ambitious and compelling short film that has the potential to create an impact and establish upcoming talent within the UK and international industry. The pilot fund provides a vital stepping stone for emerging filmmakers who have made smaller scale or lower budget work. It is supporting this group of exciting and dynamic creative talent to further their careers with the chance to work on a bigger canvas, and to develop their skills and connections to progress to bigger and bolder long form projects. 

Launched with an open call in December 2022, there was considerable demand for Future Takes, which received over 400 applications. The quality of projects was incredibly high, with BFI and Film4 agreeing to fund more shorts than the seven they initially set out to greenlight. Decisions were guided by the BFI Filmmaking Fund priorities and both organisation’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. Backing teams from across the UK nations and regions and from a range of backgrounds and skillsets, the films will see stories set and shot across the UK and internationally from filmmakers experimenting with a range of forms and approaches.

The nine greenlit projects (listed below) will shoot between September 2023 and spring 2024. In addition to production funding, BFI and Film4 creative and production executives will support each film through its entire lifecycle. Once completed, the films will aim to make an impact on the international film festival circuit, following which, there will be a focus on reaching UK audiences and inspiring the next generation of filmmaking talent, including a showcase at BFI Southbank and being available on Channel 4 streaming and BFI Player. 

Alice Cabañas, head of BFI NETWORK, said: “The response to the fund has been beyond our expectations and the level of applications was incredibly strong. We’re all acutely aware that securing funding for indie debut features is tougher than ever, and many short filmmakers are getting stuck. With Future Takes we wanted to be proactive – to build a bridge between BFI NETWORK and the BFI Filmmaking Fund, but also open up access to funding for talent who haven’t been on our programmes before, and then give these filmmakers the resources to really shine. Film4 have been fantastic partners, they share our desire to discover exciting talent and support them to bring their amazing ideas and stories to the screen. Shorts are such an important way to learn, but also demonstrate your skills, vision and style as a filmmaker, and I really can’t wait to see how these talented teams bring these projects to life and what doors that will open for them.” 

Farhana Bhula, head of creative at Film4: “Launching the first edition of Future Takes has been a phenomenal effort across the creative, production and BA teams at Film4 and the BFI. We were overwhelmed by the quality of the applications received and are proud to have landed on an outstanding cohort of nine filmmaking teams. We prioritised imaginative ideas, urgent storytelling, and exceptional cinematic vision from across the UK. We are incredibly excited by the range of genres and worlds these filmmakers will delve into and are delighted to be joining them on their filmmaking journeys.” 

Future Takes is piloting an access coordinator role on all projects, supported by additional project funding and in partnership with Bridge 06 and Julie Fernandez. Ensuring this role is available to the producer from early in pre-production, access needs of the entire cast and crew will be fully captured, so the necessary adjustments can be made. A first for BFI production funding, testing the impact of this role aims to encourage a proactive approach to access, with a view to gaining a better understanding and progressing toward greater acknowledgement of access barriers, and ultimately wider adoption of similar roles across the sector. As with the majority of the features funded through the BFI Filmmaking Fund, each project will also have access to wellbeing support. 

Future Takes 2023 – greenlit projects 

Deliverance 

Kemi’s child is newly deaf and she wants to make things right – doing what any loving parent would do. She hopes the Pastor’s ritual will cure the deafness but faces conflict from an unexpected source. Deliverance explores parental love, the tug between tradition and the modern world and the painful pressure to conform.

Director: Bim Ajadi 
Story by: Bim Ajadi
Screenwriter: Angeli Macfarlane
Producers: Anne Beresford, Andrew Gillman

Flock

When the sheep population of a tight-knit farming community mysteriously vanish, an elderly Shepherd becomes the target of suspicion and anger as his meagre flock are miraculously untouched by this freak event.

Director: Mac Nixon 
Writers: Daley Nixon, Mac Nixon
Producer: Matt Ashwell 

Homework

An 11-year-old schoolgirl is determined not to get caught with the extra ‘homework’ she’s carrying in her book bag.

Writer/Director: Jamie Di Spirito 
Producers: Chloe Culpin, Katie Sinclair

In Heat

A recovering sex addict sits on the edge of a beach car park, looking to cruise. While on an addiction helpline, and with a husband patiently waiting at home, one last temptation pulls him deep into a surreal psychosis. Deeper into the sand dunes. Deeper into himself.

Writer/Director: Rory Fleck Byrne 
Producer: Radha Bhandari 

The Insatiable Appetite of Lady Jane Grey

On an isolated farm, a white rabbit has just given birth to five new baby kits. If any human touches them over the next 10 days, she will not recognise her babies’ scent, and she’ll likely devour them. Her ‘owners’ – a fiercely close mother and daughter – must protect the rabbits from this fate. But as the world beyond begins to encroach on their familial haven, the women’s relationship begins to change, and suddenly, nobody, rabbit nor human, seems safe at all.

Director: Saskia Dixie 
Writer: Maddie Mortimer 
Producer: Thomas Viney 

Leaving Ikorodu in 1999 

Ikorodu, Nigeria. London, England. 1999. 

In Ikorodu, 10-year-old Momo has been sent for by her mother who migrated to London ahead of her. As she embarks on a road-trip to the airport with her aunt Fade and uncle Mahmoud, uncertainty drives them all to question whether Momo’s departure from Nigeria is truly for the best. 

Writer/Director: Rashida Seriki 
Producer: Tobi Kyeremateng 

Magid-Zafar 

Two childhood friends confront their diverging futures amidst the heat of a busy Pakistani takeaway.

Director: Luis Hindman 
Writer: Sufiyaan Salam, Luis Hindman
Producer: Aidan Robert Brooks 

Meatmylk

An insecure personal trainer decides to max out his gains with promising new protein shake Meatmylk, only to discover that hitting beast mode has its growing pains.

Director: Lucy Luscombe 
Writers: Adam Welch, Lucy Luscombe
Producer: Tora Young

Under the Wave off Little Dragon

Lola, a Chinese girl living in Wales, searches for a fish that will bring good fortune to her family’s restaurant. 

Writer/Director: Luo Jian 
Producers: Paida Mutonono, Susan Dolan

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