Louise Ortega is today announced as the new senior production and development executive for the BFI Film Fund. Having previously worked at companies including See-Saw Films, Vertigo Films and Slim Film & Television, Ortega will become a key member of the Film Fund’s editorial team, working across both the development and production funds, accessing applications, recommending funding decisions and providing hands-on creative, production and holistic support for filmmakers and film projects.
Reporting to Natascha Wharton, the fund’s head of editorial, Ortega’s will work alongside fellow senior exec Kristin Irving, as well as editor-at-large Lizzie Francke and development executives Aoife Hayes and Phoebe Sutherland. She replaces Farhana Bhula, who joined Film4 earlier this year. With Irving, her portfolio will have a focus on debuts, as well as working closely with BFI NETWORK to ensure there is an effective crossover for new and emerging talent. Alongside the rest of the team, Ortega will look after the fund’s sizeable slate with projects at various stages of production, as well as developing outreach strategies to engage filmmakers with the BFI.
I am excited about Louise joining, bringing a wealth of experience and dynamism to round out the Film Fund team. She has a built up a real specialism around developing writers and story which will be really valuable to us the team and of course to the filmmakers we support. In view of the considerable pressures the UK independent industry is increasingly under, the role of public funding is becoming ever more crucial. It is vital we have the resources and expertise in place to get the funding to where it will have the most impact, as well as looking at what’s needed in the future, as we are setting out the next the National Lottery funding strategy.Mia Bays, director of the BFI Film Fund
I couldn’t be more excited to be joining the formidable team Mia Bays is heading up at the BFI Film Fund at what I believe to be a fascinating time for cinema. Film is more important than ever in this new reckoning we’re undergoing, in bringing us together and reflecting us back to ourselves. I’ve always been passionate about seeking out fresh perspectives in my career and encouraging collaboration between talent, so I’m thrilled to join the BFI in empowering the next generation, as well as bolstering our heritage talent. I look forward to working at the BFI to further energise and expand UK cinema, and see stories from underrepresented voices.Louise Ortega
Ortega joins following a short term contract at See-Saw Films, where she oversaw their film slate including John Madden’s Operation Mincemeat, and upcoming projects A Special Relationship by Simon Beaufoy, and One Life, written by Lucinda Coxon and Nick Drake. Over a 20 year career, Ortega has worked across talent management, development and script editing, overseeing projects from inception through to completion. With previous roles at BBC Films, Vertigo and Slim Film and Television, projects she has worked on include American Hero, TV series Mystic, the latest and final season of The Split, Life in a Day 2020, We Need To Talk About Kevin, Fish Tank, Made In Dagenham, An Education, Silver Linings Playbook, Brooklyn, The Iron Lady and In The Loop.
Ortega joins the BFI as the organisation is developing its 10-year strategy for National Lottery funding, which will set out how it will support talent from April 2023. She will be involved in setting out how the BFI can best use Good Causes National Lottery funding to support the UK independent screen sector, through backing writers, directors and producers. The new strategy is due to be announced in September 2022 following an extensive consultation with both the public and industry.
Ortega joins the BFI Film Fund as its films recently won two BAFTA film awards: Joanna Scanlan winning Best Actress for After Love (written and directed by Aleem Khan) and Black Cop (directed Cherish Oteka), supported through the BFI Doc Society Fund in partnership with BFI NETWORK, winning Best British Short Film.
The Fund’s vibrant and diverse slate also includes In Pursuit Of Repetitive Beats (directed by Darren Emerson), the interactive rave experience playing throughout April as part of the Coventry City of Culture, striking VR animation Laika (directed by Asif Kapadia) which is currently touring the UK, The Phantom of the Open directed by Craig Roberts, written by Simon Farnaby and starring Mark Rylance and Sally Hawkins which was recently released on over 500 screens, and BAFTA nominated Ali & Ava (directed by Clio Barnard).
Projects in production and post include animation Kensuke’s Kingdom directed Neil Boyle and Kirk Hendry, Carol Morley’s latest Typist Artist Pirate King, Scrapper, the feature debut from Charlotte Regan, Ruben Ostlund’s first feature in the English language Triangle of Sadness, Rye Lane directed by Raine Ann Miller, Nezouh written and directed by Soudade Kaadan, A Gaza Weekend written and directed by Basil Khalil and co-written by Daniel Chan Khalil and Pretty Red Dress written and directed by Dionne Edwards.