Meet the Film Fund team

We work across film development and production, audience development, and operations and partnerships.

Production and development

Lizzie Francke, Senior Development and Production Executive

Lizzie Francke is a Senior Production and Development Executive at the BFI’s Film Fund. She was formerly a Development Producer for the UK Film Council’s Development Fund where she oversaw the First Feature programme which nurtured such talents as Clio Barnard, Morgan Matthews, James Graham, Deborah Hayward, Destiny Ekaragha and Bola Agbaje.

Projects that she has exec produced while she has been at the BFI include, most recently, Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir, Aneil Karia’s Surge and Jerry Rothwell’s The Reason I Jump.

She started her career as a film critic in the early 1990s contributing to the Guardian, The Observer, Sight and Sound and Screen International amongst others. During this period she also lectured in Film Studies at Middlesex University and authored Script Girls: The History of Women Screenwriters in Hollywood (1994, BFI Publishing). Between 1997- 2001 she was Artistic Director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Natascha Wharton, Senior Development and Production Executive

She was born in Trinidad, to a Trinidadian father and German mother, and her introduction to cinema was at the local drive-in. Before joining the Film Fund, Natascha worked at Working Title Films, initially in the development department, across titles including Bridget Jones and Elizabeth but in 1999 set up a low budget division to support emerging filmmakers. The first film to be made through the label and executive produced by Wharton, was Stephen Daldry’s Billy Elliot. Ten films from emerging filmmakers followed, including Shaun of the Dead, My Little Eye and Hot Fuzz. Wharton continued to work on Working Title’s slate developing projects with a broad range of writers and directors and in 2010 served as Executive Producer on Greg Mottola’s alien comedy Paul.

Fiona Morham, Head of Physical Production

After graduating from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Fiona moved to the UK. She began working in the film industry as a production runner on Wish You Were Here, directed by David Leland and produced by Sarah Radclyffe. She then joined Working Title Films in various production positions on films such as Chris Menge’s A World Apart, Stephen Frears’ The Grifters and Vincent Ward’s Map of the Human Heart. She freelanced as a line producer for Working Title’s award-winning TV series The Borrowers and The Return of The Borrowers before working briefly at the BFI as a production executive and then as a freelance producer with the BBC with directors such as Pawel Pawlikowski, John Akomfrah and John Mackay. In 2002 she joined the UK Film Council as Head of Production.

Kristin Irving, Development and Production Executive

Kristin Irving is a Development and Production Executive at the BFI Film Fund. Prior to joining the BFI she worked in development for production company Portobello Pictures on films such as Pawel Pawlikowski’s Oscar-winning film IDA. After leaving Portobello she ran the development slate for film development financier Cascade Pictures, and also worked as a freelance script consultant.


Farhana Bhula, Development and Production Executive

Farhana Bhula is a Development and Production Executive in the BFI’s Film Fund. Previously, she was the Head of Development of Film & TV at Wildgaze Films where she worked on titles including the Brooklyn TV spin-off, Nick Hornby’s The Giant’s House, and Gaby Chiappe’s Dark Matter. She was previously a development executive at Endor Productions. She has produced a number of award-winning short films including Ouroboros, which stars BAFTA-winner Anamaria Marinca, On This Island starring Michele Valley, and Truck which was backed by Creative England. She was selected as one of Screen International’s Stars of Tomorrow in 2015.

Aoife Hayes, Development Executive

Aoife Hayes is a Development Executive in the Film Fund where she supports writers, directors and producers across development. She joined the BFI from production company See-Saw Films where she developed films such as Francis Lee’s sophomore feature Ammonite. There she was responsible for identifying and building relationships with emerging talent and sourcing projects for a broad and varied slate. Prior to that she worked across film and television at Heyday Films including features such as Paul King’s Paddington 2.

Brian Walters, Development Executive

Previous to joining the BFI, Brian was a Development Executive at film and TV production company, Endor Productions. He works with writers, directors and producers, developing scripts, book adaptations and film treatments. Before this, Brian was Deputy Literary Manager at the National Theatre from May 2010 to October 2015, developing new playwrights and unearthing old and forgotten plays. He’s been a script reader for the BBC Writers Room and Channel 4’s Scriptwriting course, and was script-editor in the writers room for the up-coming Steve McQueen BBC TV series, Small Axe.

Iris Cohen, Production Manager

Iris started working in the BFI Film Fund in January 2018. She principally supports the Head of Production in their work, and is responsible for managing the incoming production applications.


Phoebe Sutherland, Story Editor and Development Coordinator

Phoebe is the BFI Film Fund’s Story Editor and Development Coordinator. Phoebe joined the team in September 2018 and provides editorial, practical and administrative support to the Production and Development Executives. Prior to her joining, Phoebe worked in visual effects production for over 3 years, most recently as a Line Producer at DNEG on films such as Avengers: Infinity War and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Phoebe has also worked as a freelance Script Reader for several years for companies such as Element Pictures and Lorton Entertainment and recently completed the NFTS Script Development Diploma.

Marilyn Milgrom, Script Consultant

Marilyn is a freelance script consultant. In addition to the work she does for the Film Fund she is also a regular consultant to the European Producers’ Network ACE and to EKRAN, a feature development workshop based in Warsaw. She was Head of Development at the New Zealand Film Commission for four years (2007-2011), before which she was senior tutor with the Script Factory. In a previous life Marilyn worked as an actor, in casting and as a TV director and producer.


Lauren Minto-Simpson, Development and Production Assistant

Lauren joined the Film Fund in September 2018 as Development and Production Assistant, providing administrative support to the Development and Production Executive Team.


NETWORK

Jessica Loveland, Head of BFI NETWORK

Jess oversees the national strategy for the BFI NETWORK working closely with the UK-wide team of Talent Execs and colleagues in the BFI Film Fund. Jess has worked within NETWORK for five years, previously she was a regional Talent Exec with Film Hub North developing the work and careers of new and emerging filmmakers. Jess is constantly inspired by the scale and ambition of the NETWORK project, the passion of her colleagues engaging with filmmakers across the country and the opportunity to support and promote the next generation of filmmakers wherever they are based in the UK.

Caragh Davison, BFI NETWORK Talent Programme Manager

Caragh works across BFI NETWORK’s UK-wide activity with a focus on designing our flagship talent development programmes such as NETWORK@LFF and NETWORK Weekender, as well as managing the NETWORK website and supporting the delivery of our partner work with BAFTA, British Council and BIFA among others. Her mission is to burst the industry bubble and throw the doors open to new filmmakers from all walks of life.


Audiences Fund

Ben Luxford, Head of UK Audiences

Ben Luxford is of Head of UK Audiences, responsible for a range of funds designed to bring great films to audiences across the UK. Ben worked in the UK Independent distribution sector for 10 years, releasing commercial, crossover and specialised titles (all of them great) into the UK market for companies such as Optimum Releasing (now Studiocanal UK), Artificial Eye and Koch Media. He has worked on over 200 titles including selling films such as This is England, Son of Rambow, Pan’s Labyrinth and We Need to Talk About Kevin into UK cinemas as well as overseeing all aspects of distribution for films including All This Mayhem, Amour, The Selfish Giant, The Great Beauty, Blue is the Warmest Colour and Le Week-end.

Ann Griffiths,Senior Manager, UK Audience Development

Ann is Senior Manager for UK Audience Development within the BFI Film Fund Audiences team and is responsible for the BFI Film Audience Network and the BFI Neighbourhood Cinema Fund. She has had an extensive and varied career at the BFI with a focus on audience facing activity outside London. As part of this she has overseen a number of initiatives including the first BFI Film Festivals Fund (in 1999) the roll out of the BFI Mediatheque to locations across the UK and the setting up of the BFI Audience Fund following the publication of Film Forever. Her particular area of specialism is supporting independent exhibition across the UK through funding, advice and advocacy.

Sarah-Jane Meredith, Manager UK Wide Audiences, Audience Team

Sarah-Jane is one of three managers in the Audience Team and works across both the Audience Fund and the BFI Film Audience Network.


Laura Glanville, Audiences Manager

Laura is a manager on the BFI Audience Fund. The Fund supports a range of audience-facing activities (eg film festivals, distribution, touring film programmes etc) with the aim of growing audiences for British independent and international film.


Clare Harwood, UK Wide Audiences Manager

Prior to the BFI, Clare managed a small cinema in Central Scotland for nine years, where she was responsible for everything from programming and booking films, through film education projects to running the box office and even projecting the films on occasion. Taking a year out, Clare spent time travelling in South East Asia and South America. She then joined the BFI in 2007, making up one half of the small but perfectly formed Partnerships Department. Working with exhibitors and other organisations across the UK, her main role was to manage the creation and development of a series of BFI Mediatheques across the country.

She is now the lead officer for the Programming Development Fund, though also works closely with the BFI Film Audience Network, and the Distribution fund.

Lily van den Broecke, UK Audiences Coordinator

Lily supports the day-to-day running of the BFI Film Audience Network, working closely with colleagues in the BFI, as well as partners in the eight hubs across the UK, to deliver their strategic vision of ensuring the greatest choice of film is available for everyone. She is endlessly inspired by the number of screenings, events, projects and goings-on in independent film exhibition and very interested in how the sector can join up to support and learn from each other.


International

Katie Ellen, Senior Manager, International Distribution and Commercial Strategy

Katie joined the BFI in 2011. Her role includes looking after the distribution of lottery funding for specialised and British films, with particular focus on New Models awards for films with alternative approaches to distribution, cross-media and creative marketing strategies. Katie also manages the Film Export Fund. Prior to working at the BFI, Katie worked at the UK Film Council in distribution and exhibition and production, and in production at Myriad Pictures, with previous roles in PR and finance.

Attica Dakhil, International Fund and Co-Productions Coordinator

Attica joined the BFI in October 2017 and works in the International team across co-productions, export and the international strategy, coordinating the activity around the international funds. She previously worked in the Acquisitions and International Production team at StudioCanal in London and in Paris. She is bilingual in German and Italian and fluent in English and French.


Inclusion and Diversity

Jen Smith, Head of Inclusion

Jennifer is responsible for leading inclusion across all BFI external activity identified in the BFI2022 strategy. This includes expanding the work of the BFI Diversity Standards as well as building and implementing many significant new partnerships and working across the BFI’s public programmes and policy areas. Jennifer established the BFI’s Screen Advisory Groups, led the creation and publication of the screen sectors first industrywide Set of Principles and Guidance to tackle bullying and harassment and has continued to champion improvements to access, such the BFI gaining Autism friendly status at BFI Southbank in July 2019. Previously Jennifer devised and led the Inclusion Strategy at Circle Housing and drove transformational change whilst there, in just three years pushing Circle Housing from 244th to 22nd place in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index becoming one of Race for Opportunity’s top 10 BAME employers within the public sector and ranking 4th in the 2017 “UK Inclusive Companies top 50”. Jennifer is part of the British Screen Forums Future Leaders Programme.

Iyare Igiehon, Inclusion Partnerships & Events Executive

Iyare’s career has taken in a number roles often with a focus on black culture and entertainment, from curating the DJ music promo title Streetbeats for the CD Pool to singles review column for the New Nation Newspaper and a stint as audio editor at black culture website darkerthanblue.com. Perhaps best known for his work as a radio presenter (BBC 1Xtra, BBC 6Music and BBC Radio 2), he has also worked extensively as a producer on ongoing series for BBC radio, one-off documentaries, regular guest appearances and radio advertising for the UK arm of BET. He is also an experienced voice over artist and live event host. He has guest lectured at universities, taught BTEC Media and programmed the BFI’s Future Film educational filmmaking sessions at the BFI Southbank for three years. In 2014 he cofounded S.O.U.L. an organisation that advocates for BAME practitioners in British film and television and in 2019 led a consortium of Black film organisations in launching a new Black British film festival, S.O.U.L. Fest. Iyare is married, has two young children and resides in south-east London.

Melanie Hoyes, Industry Inclusion Executive

Hailing from an academic background, Mel can often be found consuming, musing, analysing and discussing film and popular culture. Having completed postgraduate studies in this area and teaching film and TV at undergraduate level, the BFI has given her the opportunity to use these skills in a contemporary industry context. She completed a BFI research project to historically map ethnic diversity in onscreen representation in UK film for the Black Star season at the BFI Southbank in 2016, ground breaking research and data methodology which she continues to speak about to a variety of audiences. The research was also written up in a piece and Sight & Sound Magazine and an academic collection of essays around Black Film and British Cinema. In her role as Industry Inclusion Executive, Mel supports the Inclusion Team to advocate for increased access and equity in the UK film sector. Establishing data and research as a baseline for meaningful change, the team also recognises the value in connecting incredible people with each other in order to enhance the work the BFI is doing in this area.

Nilan Dharmadasa, BFI NETWORK and Inclusion Team Coordinator

Nilan is the NETWORK and Inclusion Team Coordinator, responsible for supporting representation and new filmmaking voices across the organisation. Nilan joined the BFI Film Fund in April 2019, as Executive Assistant to Ben Roberts. Prior to joining the BFI, he worked as a Team Assistant at the BBC. Nilan began his career as a runner, working across feature films, TV, music videos and commercials.


Operations, Projects and Partnerships

Liane Gillett, Head of Film Fund Operations, Partners and Projects

Liane is the Head of Film Fund Operations, Partners and Projects (OPPs). The team work to continually improve the operational capabilities of how the BFI funds people, ensuring that we are accessible, inclusive, environmentally responsible, and reach beneficiaries across the UK. As well as setting up new funds and schemes and managing the relationships with key strategic partners, the team work with a number of BFI directorates to plan, develop and implement financial, reporting and monitoring systems. Liane transferred to the BFI in 2011 after joining the UK Film Council in 2009. Prior to that she spent 14 years as both Company Manager and in-house script editor for Feelgood Fiction Ltd, an award-winning independent film and television production company.

James Weddup, Senior Manager, Operations, Partners and Projects

James manages the Film Fund’s partnerships with organisations delivering talent development and other film initiatives across the UK. He oversees our funding relationships with Doc Society, the British Council, BAFTA, BIFA and more. He is working on the BFI’s response to the climate and ecological emergency and the changes this means for our work as a funder, an organisation and an industry leader. James joined the BFI in December 2014, coming from the role of Grants Manager at the British Museum. He previously spent two years teaching English Literature at the University of Virginia and worked for the National Theatre’s fundraising team. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Peer Reviewer for Arts Council England.

Arnold Voysey, Operations and Database Manager

Arnold is responsible for the overall management of the grants database systems and processes across the British Film Institute, which includes all aspects of the funding applications, awards management, project management, performance review, contracting, reporting and partner support. He started working at the British Film Institute in January 2018 and has previously worked for ScreenSkills, Kudos and Marvel Studios.


John McKnight, Partnerships Coordinator

John is an administrator for the BFI Audience Fund, and a number of the BFI’s larger funded partners. He looks after applications and grants, awardee relationships, and reporting and monitoring. He joined the BFI Events team in 2009 following a short intern role on the 2008 BFI London Film Festival and joined the Film Fund in 2017.


Ruth Thompson, Partnerships Coordinator

Ruth works closely with the Senior Partnerships Manager, Head of BFI NETWORK and partner organisations across the UK to support the delivery of Talent Development programmes, project awards and outreach activity. Ruth is also responsible for the coordination of the two central BFI NETWORK funds, from point of application to delivery, through collaboration with the Talent Executives in the five English Hubs. Ruth joined the BFI in May 2018 as the OPPs Administrator after working as a Commercial Administrator and an Editorial Intern.

Stephanie Franklin-Burns, OPPs Administrator

Steph joined the BFI in January 2020 after working at the Society of Authors as part of the Prizes Department. She is responsible for general administration duties and database support for the Film Fund.


Billie Collins, Office Runner

Billie works across the teams within the Film Fund, providing general office and administrative support, and is the first point of contact for general enquiries. She is also a playwright (most recently with work at the Lowry Theatre Studio and HOME Manchester), and a script reader for organisations such as the Liverpool Everyman Theatre.


Production Finance

Matt Stephenson, Production Finance Analyst

Hailing all the way from Australia Matt joined the BFI in 2016 and works as part of the Production Finance team across the Development, Production, Distribution and Film Export Funds. Prior to his role at the BFI Matt worked at NBC Universal and AMC Networks in the UK and before that he was working for independent Australian distributor Madman Entertainment in Melbourne.

  • Production and development funding

    Production and development funding

    We provide support for the production, development and completion of feature films which fairly reflect people from different backgrounds.

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  • Distribution and exhibition funding

    Distribution and exhibition funding

    We support high-quality British and independent releases, increase film choice for audiences and offer a springboard for UK film exports.

Read more

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