BFI announces £500m boost for UK productions


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The Independent Culture

The organisation overseeing the future of British film has unveiled plans to develop talent outside of London and to invest more in film production as well as preserving the country's film heritage with its digital conversion programme.

The BFI announced yesterday that it is planning to invest almost £500m in British films in the next five years, from backing new projects to providing education, and converting films into digital format.

The Film Fund, which is responsible for backing British film, will be increased from £15m when the BFI took over from the UK Film Council last year to £24m by 2017. "It is a big increase," a spokeswoman said.

Greg Dyke, chairman of the BFI, has been particularly keen to target the regions. He said that film industry growth was outstripping the economy and "we want to invest to ensure continued success".

He added that a central part of the five-year plan was to "nurture business growth and cultural vibrancy across the whole of the UK, with a particular emphasis outside London". The detailed plans include providing equipment to 1,000 community venues across the UK, and work with the Big Lottery Fund to build and educate audiences.

There is also a plan to provide a youth film academy network for 16 to 19 year olds in partnership with Pinewood Studios and Bafta. The spokeswoman said that it would include A&R-style operatives seeking out potential filmmaking talent across the UK.

There is also a plan to convert 10,000 British films to digital format over the period “as a kind of rescue mission” for many culturally important movies.

The five-year plan, dubbed Film Forever, followed 18 months of consultation with the industry, cultural organisations and the Government.

As part of the drive into the regions, the BFI hopes to build film audiences through partnerships with local organisations including cinemas, art galleries, film clubs and local TV and radio stations.