The BFI Launches new fund for short form Animation

The BFI has launched a Short Form Animation Fund alongside new research, which both aim to support growth in the UK animation sector. With awards of £30,000 to £120,000 available for successful projects, the new Fund is seeking applications from a wide array of UK animators who have already gained industry recognition. It will back projects which represent a significant advancement in their work, enable progression and open up new opportunities. Supported by National Lottery funding and operated by the BFI Film Fund, applications are now open on the BFI website until Tuesday 5 November 2019.

Supporting higher-budgeted animated work of up to 15mins in length, the Fund can support narrative short form projects in any animated technique or genre and for any platform, including cinema, digital platforms, and emerging media such as VR. It responds to priorities set out in BFI2022, the BFI’s five year strategy, which identified animation as a focus area, and a commitment to encourage continued experimentation in form and where audiences engage with content.

The new Fund is launched in recognition of the UK’s excellence in animation and the wealth of talent in the UK who require support to develop their practice, and to progress them to the next stage of their career. By responding to the nature of the progression route in animation and seeking to support creative and innovative work in any format that is unlikely to be commercially financed, the BFI aims to help maintain the UK’s long held position as a world leader in innovating animation technique and narrative.

The BFI is committed to supporting the growth of the UK’s animation industry and in tandem with the new Fund, the BFI Research and Statistics Fund, supported by the National Lottery, is in the process of commissioning new research. Seeking to establish a comprehensive picture of the UK’s animation industry for the first time, it will identify areas of expertise and specialism and pinpoint creative and commercial hubs across the UK. It will provide a robust and credible source of data which will be publicly available in early 2020, and aims to highlight where domestic and international links and partnerships can be exploited.

Ben Roberts, Deputy Chief Executive of the BFI, said:

“This new Fund is a result of us listening to the industry and filmmakers, and working with them to develop something which celebrates excellence and creativity at a point when talent need it most. Our animators have long led the way in driving forward this art form, and we are thrilled to be offering funding which aims to back UK animation talent from a host of backgrounds, and through a variety of traditional and innovative media.”

The Fund was developed with the support of Animation UK, Animation Alliance UK and Helen Brunsdon, Director of the British Animation Awards. Both organisations played an important role in drawing attention to the need for more dedicated support of UK animation and were involved in helping to identify at which point in an animator’s career they most require support.

Kate O’Connor, Chief Executive of Animation UK, said:

“Two years ago, Animation UK set out to support growth of a secure production base by seeking investment in our globally respected Animation sector. The BFI has today announced a hugely important part of that overall investment landscape, a fund to support our emerging talent, and to provide the opportunity for developing their careers. Animation UK are delighted by this, and look forward to continued involvement in the fund.”

Gary Thomas, Coordinator, Animation Alliance UK, said:

“Animation Alliance UK has been encouraged by how keenly the BFI engaged with the UK’s diverse and brilliant animation community, and the new BFI Short Form Animation Fund is an exciting and much-needed initiative that will offer significant support to our sector. Along with the BFI NETWORK support for emergent animation talent, and support from Arts Council England for innovative and experimental work, the new Fund is a great acknowledgement and endorsement of the cultural importance and creative excellence of independent UK animation talent.”

Projects funded through the Short Form Animation Fund will benefit from the oversight of a BFI Film Fund Executive and a dedicated animation specialist if required. If teams would benefit from a relationship with an experienced studio or company, introductions could be facilitated by the specialist; both Animation UK and Animate Projects have offered access to their membership as potential routes to connect with appropriate studios and/or companies.

The BFI continues to support animation talent through BFI NETWORK with awards of up to £15k per project available for filmmakers at the early stages of their career. In addition, the recently launched Young Audiences Content Fund from the BFI, which is supported with government funding, is a £57m three year pilot. Production and development awards support the creation of distinctive, high-quality content for audiences up to the age of 18 to be shown on free to air television and online platforms, and supports animation across all genres.

As part of a year-long celebration of animation in cinemas across the country in 2018, the BFI launched Animated Britain, an unprecedented collection of archive animation, demonstrating a stunningly rich century-long history of British animation. Ranging from the earliest experiments to the latest pioneering contemporary films made by UK animation studios, Animated Britain features over 300 films and is available for free via BFI Player.

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