Article: Connecting more people across the UK with the infinite joy of film

BFI Film Audience Network event

National Lottery funding will expand the role of the UK-wide BFI Film Audience Network, with a brand new remit to find and support new and emerging talent talent with new regionally based Talent Executives.

As set out in BFI2022, the BFI is launching key developments to build on the success of the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) across the UK. A unique collaboration made up of eight Hubs managed by leading film organisations and venues strategically placed around the country, FAN has been the backbone of the BFI’s strategy to ensure the greatest choice of film is available for everyone.

In a new move, National Lottery funding will see six BFI NETWORK talent executives appointed in the English Hubs to give greater support to new talent where they live. This recognises the strength of the Hubs as spaces for filmmakers and audiences to meet and reflects the BFI NETWORK offer which already exists in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The ambition is to ensure all aspiring talent across the UK can access support, as well as benefit from signposting to the full scope of funding and training opportunities available to develop careers across the screen industries.

Over £4m of National Lottery funding per year until 2022 will enable BFI FAN to continue its broad range of activity to encourage greater engagement with independent and British film across the UK. With increased decision-making responsibility, Hubs will now invest in local film festivals as well as back innovative audience development activity, enabling them to meet the specific needs of their local exhibitors and audiences. Hubs will deliver greater choice and access to a diversity of content to audiences everywhere, with a focus on reaching 16-30 year olds.

Restructuring the boundaries of FAN’s English Hubs, coupled with the completion of an open application process, sees changes to some of the organisations heading-up the Hubs:

  • Film Hub Midlands will be led by Broadway Media Centre in Nottingham working in partnership with the Birmingham-based Flatpack
  • Film Hub North will be led collectively by Showroom Workstation, Sheffield, HOME, Manchester and Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle
  • Film Hub South East will be led by the Independent Cinema Office in collaboration with Saffron Screen in Saffron Walden and The Depot in Lewes
  • Film Hub South West will be led by Watershed in Bristol
  • Film Hub Scotland will be led by Glasgow Film Theatre
  • Film Hub Northern Ireland will be led by Queen’s University Belfast
  • Film Hub Wales will be led by Chapter in Cardiff
  • Film Hub London will be led by Film London

Changes to FAN’s geography in England see the Hubs now aligned with Arts Council England’s boundaries, creating improved potential for cultural partnerships and collaborations. FAN is made up of over 1,500 partners, and a greater focus on local and national collaboration will see them working more closely with organisations such as Into Film and its UK-wide 10,000+ film clubs in schools, the BFI Audience Fund and the BFI Film Academy, with the collective aim of bringing together existing regional and local expertise, to engage and involve more people from every background, regardless of where they live.

Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, said:

“It is fantastic that BFI’s Film Audience Network is expanding. A boost in its National Lottery funding will mean it can build on its success and bring diverse, independent British films to even more communities across the UK and inspire the country’s next generation of filmmakers.”

Ben Roberts, Director of the BFI Film Fund, said:

“Central to BFI2022 is the cultivation of a richer diversity of those who are watching and making films in the UK. In BFI FAN we have a thriving network of audiences, curators and filmmakers, reaching across the whole of the UK and through all types of cultural spaces – from multiplexes through to film clubs – so by embedding a mission to develop film talent within it, we can offer an inspiring and inclusive environment where creativity can thrive. Thanks to all our partners who have worked tirelessly with us to build BFI FAN over the past five years, and welcome to our new partners; we are excited by the opportunity to connect more people across the UK with the infinite joy of film.”

Delphine Lievens, Theatrical Sales Executive, Altitude Film Distribution said:

“The BFI Film Audience Network has become an essential partner for us on our releases in over the last year across a number of titles and most noticeably on our release of Daphne. The FAN team and Film Hubs across the UK have provided vital insights, support and unbridled enthusiasm to the projects we have worked together on. They have not only maximised press and marketing opportunities in key areas outside of London that otherwise may not have been covered but most importantly drawn in new audiences to cinemas across the UK.”

Find out what’s been happening to date across the UK’s BFI FAN wide programmes and projects through inspirational case studies of cinema innovation, articles and research here on The Bigger Picture.

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