Film finance - a bleak picture?

Euro sign and question markThe Knowledge recently had a good chat with a well-established and charming film producer and director who has been in the business for nearly ten years. She told us about her disillusionment with the current lack of funding, the outlook for creatives trying to raise finance and why some of her comperes are dropping out of the industry altogether…

During our conversation, the producer vented her frustration at the state of film financing, with particular reference to mid-budget films, ie those needing around £1m-£3m.

She has been developing a fascinating-sounding feature for some years, admittedly with a sensitive subject matter, but certainly no more gritty than films from directors such as Shane Meadows, Andrea Arnold or Lynne Ramsay. The difference is, says our lady, that those directors have BAFTA nods or Academy Awards, all of which are a massive plus when it comes to securing finance for their next projects.

Our producer/director has a prestigious collection of gongs herself, including a British Independent Film Award and a London Independent Film Festival Award, but says unfortunately these are no guarantee for potential financiers to board her next project.

Her assembled cast should, in theory, have helped the finance to gather speed – over the development period, she had three A-lister leads lined up, often a trigger for backers to jump in.

Schemes such as the iFeatures2 are generally considered a big help, providing development and production funding for filmmakers to get their projects to market.  But the final three chosen have in fact been whittled down from thousands, making chances slim of getting your work made through this programme.

Our insider had, along with many people, been very positive about the amount of money that has been put into industry training schemes over recent years but points out that if films are simply not being made, the money spent on that training is going to waste.

Clearly the big budget, Hollywood style features are not in too much trouble – over the next few months the big UK studios are playing host to giants such as Guardians of the Galaxy, Cinderella, and In the Heart of the Sea.

It’s the medium-range films that are suffering. Many of our contacts have told us that they are working for less money than they were five years ago. And several have dropped out of the industry entirely, taking with them their specialist skills.

Oh, and that fascinating sounding feature we mentioned earlier? Looks unlikely we will ever see it on the big screen…

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