1. Strategy
  2. Our ambitions
  3. Growing the cultural and economic impact of the UK’s screen industries

Growing the cultural and economic impact of the UK’s screen industries

By 2033, we will have driven growth and international success across the screen sector, and addressed market failures through our funding schemes, policy and evidence.

We want to expand our digital reach and improve access so that everyone can benefit from everything the BFI does – no matter where they live. We also need to future-proof our organisation, embracing technological change and diversifying our income to sustain our charitable activities.

We will work with industry and policymakers in our role as the lead body for film and the moving image to advocate for a successful future for the sector. We will particularly focus on how to maximise the opportunities that lie ahead and how we can help minimise the challenges.

Why now?

The screen sectors make a significant contribution to the UK’s economy and growth agenda, and they are evolving rapidly. Against this backdrop, we have an important role to play in helping tackle new challenges, seize opportunities, and sustain growth.

For example, the UK is facing a skills shortage, and diversity and inclusion remain a huge challenge. The independent sector is suffering from multiple market failures across development, production and distribution. Similarly, there is a lack of coordination towards achieving net zero. A legacy structure of patchwork public funding to deliver key industry support services has led to inequitable support for production across the nations and regions of the UK.

Committed leadership is needed to coordinate and address these issues.

Over the years, we have consistently invested in policy and research expertise to help address significant sector-wide challenges. This includes the work of the BFI-led Screen Sector Taskforce as a convenor and independent broker between industry and government.

The Taskforce effectively delivered the rapid and coordinated policy and evidence needed to restore the sector in the wake of the pandemic, leading to a series of vital support packages

We have a unique remit to champion and strengthen the cultural, social and economic impact of the sector – both domestically and internationally. In addition to our policy and research work, we fund a number of support services. These include the British Film Commission, regional production services and the BFI Certification Unit; all play a material role in both attracting inward investment to the country and supporting the development of production activity across all parts of the UK.

We now need to ensure that the funding and governance of infrastructure support for the screen sector delivers the greatest possible impact – for all nations and regions of the UK.

Our National Lottery funding is also vital to the cultural and economic success of our screen industries. It is a powerful tool for driving positive change and promoting equity, inclusion, and better working conditions.

The BFI invests a significant proportion of our ‘good cause’ funding each year into nurturing and developing new and emerging talent and creating great UK IP through the BFI Film Fund. We work with film organisations and leading cultural venues across the UK to provide professional development, networking, and short film and early feature development funding. This grassroots finance supports producers, writers and directors of all ages and is essential for the health of our sector.

With less available funding in our new National Lottery Strategy, we have honed our focus on areas of market failure and cultural need. We will deliver vital support for talent across the UK’s independent sector, whilst also providing relevant and accessible skills development opportunities. Over the next three years we will need to develop a funding relationship with UK producers that ensures the widest and fairest access to support.

Over the next decade, we will need to partner closely with the sector and government in order to:

  • ensure our funding and support is targeting the areas of greatest need
  • gather evidence and develop new policy
  • champion the importance of independent film
  • set high standards for equity, diversity and inclusion and getting to net zero.

How we’ll do it

Over the next 10 years, we want to establish greater interconnectivity and collaboration within the UK’s screen sector. This will maximise our collective cultural and economic opportunities at a time of immense change.

Our goals are:

  • To deliver a sustainable independent film model and grow the sector, at home and abroad.
  • To develop a stable long-term funding and governance model for the British Film Commission, production services, the UK Cannes Pavilion and the BFI Certification Unit. This will lead to more cohesive and appropriately funded delivery models that can best serve the needs of the sector across the UK.
  • To build our in-house expertise in areas such as video games and sustainability.
  • To continually advance our understanding of the cultural, social and economic impact of the full breadth of the screen industries through our policy and research work.
  • To show measurable improvement in the industry-wide fulfilment of key goals. This includes equity, diversity and inclusion and environmental sustainability.
  • Build new channels for disseminating our findings both domestically and internationally. This will consolidate the BFI’s reputation as a knowledge hub and thought leader.
  • To help the sector navigate an increasingly global market and ensure continued close collaboration with EU Member States and our European partners. We will grow the number of UK co-productions, and we must make sure that our content continues to be seen by international audiences to reduce reliance on UK-derived revenue.

In the first three years, we will:

  1. Work with industry and government to encourage better coordination and funding for skills development. We will build on what we have learnt from our Film and HETV skills review to look at the future skills needs for video games, animation, virtual production and new forms in the first year of the strategy.
  2. Agree new models for the UK’s industry support services in partnership with government and the sector. This will include working with Film London*, with respect to its current role housing the British Film Commission; we will also be reviewing regional production and location services, the funding of the UK Cannes Pavilion and the BFI Certification Unit.
  3. Deliver the BFI’s commitments made in response to recommendations from the Economic Review of UK Independent Film. This details deep-set challenges, including developing a ‘new deal’ for filmmakers within our National Lottery funding plan.
  4. Work with leading experts in the sector to establish new standards and practices. This includes championing the use of the BFI Diversity Standards, and helping the industry meet net zero and other environmental goals.

*In the first two years of the new strategy £175,000 GIA has been allocated to support core overheads at Film London for the British Film Commission whilst a new model for industry support services is agreed.