iFEATURES FLAGSHIP FEATURE FILM PROGRAMME RELAUNCHES WITH ENHANCED SUPPORT FOR FILMMAKERS
OPEN FOR APPLICATIONS WEDNESDAY 21 FEBRUARY 2018
Creative England today unveils plans to evolve its flagship low-budget film initiative iFeatures, made possible through National Lottery funding from the BFI and supported by BBC Films; applications will open on Wednesday 21 February, for emerging talent across the UK.
Up to 12 projects will be selected, all of which will now benefit from the development Lab for the full duration of the programme, in addition to receiving dedicated support for their route to market.
iFeatures will back directors and writers making their first features, with the ambition to foster the highest quality British debuts from the most dynamic and inventive storytellers. Seeking distinctive voices, bold visions and a powerful sense of place that showcase stories from across the whole of the UK, changes to the scheme will establish it as the UK’s premier film Lab programme, driving the development of UK low-budget debut features and realising the talent of emerging UK filmmakers.
iFeatures has proven itself to be highly successful, with previous productions such as Lady Macbeth, Apostasy and The Levelling enjoying critical acclaim and firmly establishing exceptional new talent.
This has translated into awards success, with a total of four wins at the 2017 BIFAs, a European Film Award and three BAFTA nominations for Lady Macbeth, a Scottish BAFTA win for The Levelling, and Hope Dickson Leach (The Levelling) and Dan Kokotajlo (Apostasy) winning the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award in association with the BFI in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Lady Macbeth has also enjoyed outstanding international theatrical success for a low-budget British debut feature, earning over £3.5m.
Changes to iFeatures’ Lab will ensure it better serves the needs and ambitions of the key creative roles of director, producer and writer and target a more representative range of filmmakers. The scheme will also adhere to the BFI’s recently announced Diversity Targets, in place for all BFI funded activity from April 2018.
Retaining the central importance of the filmmaker’s voice and sense of meaningful place in the story, the Lab ‘strands’ will be dedicated to craft, exploration and experimentation, alongside intensive project development, production preparation, market readiness, mentoring and personal development.
Following the Lab, the BFI and BBC Films have both committed to supporting at least three films to production. While iFeatures aims to drive a higher proportion of the projects developed through the Lab to a standard where they can successfully compete in the marketplace and access the full range of financing options available in the current landscape.
Paul Ashton, Head of Film at Creative England said: “iFeatures has proven itself absolutely critical to filmmaking talent in the UK. The projects coming out of iFeatures are not just good low-budget films; they are amongst the best independent British films being made by anyone. Talent and opportunity are the beating heart of Creative England and iFeatures - and the refreshed programme will realise even more talent and opportunity for the future.”
Ben Roberts, Director of the BFI Film Fund, said: “Together we are building on the energy and insight gained from a standout year for British debuts. The changes to iFeatures will mean a focus on wider access to the programme, and first-class editorial and industry support to all the participating teams throughout. We think this can generate a truly exciting variety of timely stories and investable voices”
Eva Yates, Commissioning Executive for BBC Films, said: “At BBC Films we are delighted to be continuing our partnership with the BFI and Creative England on iFeatures, redesigned as a world-class development lab which will increase the range, ambition and opportunity for new voices and low budget filmmaking in the U.K. iFeatures plays an essential role in BBC Films’ increased commitment to supporting bold debut films and the most exciting filmmakers of the future.”
iFeatures will expand on its track record of championing powerful voices and original stories with a strong sense of place by supporting and representing UK-wide talent and stories. Previous features films have shone a new light on period Northumberland, rural Norfolk, farming in Somerset and Jehova’s Witnesses in the North West, while films coming soon include the first British film made in British Sign Language and female driven stories set in the unseen margins of Brighton and an off-season Cornish holiday park. Further films developed by iFeatures and produced outside the programme include multi-award winning northern films Adult Life Skills and God’s Own Country – both of which were financed by the Creative England Lottery Production Fund.