Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage:

British filmmakers will benefit from a boost in British Film Institute funding rising annually to £24M by 2017. The increased investment forms part of the BFI’s five-year Film Forever: Supporting UK Film 2012-2017 plan. It focuses on local and international production, education, audiences and film heritage, and reflects an especially buoyant British film industry. “With film industry growth currently outstripping the economy as a whole, we want to invest to ensure continued success,” said BFI chair Greg Dyke. Funding for British films will increase by at least £1M a year, representing a 30% boost by 2017. A new International Fund will support inward investment and film exports. It will strengthen relationships in the USA and Europe and aid emerging sectors like Brazil and China.

The plan also touches on a proposed “joint venture pilot” to benefit producers who team up with distributors before production “for their mutual benefit, and ultimately for the benefit of UK audiences”. That aligns with Prime Minister David Cameron’s comments in January that British film should focus on “commercially successful pictures” like The King’s Speech and The Inbetweeners Movie. Both benefited from early distributor involvement, but the Prime Minister was roundly mocked for his presumption that there was any magic formula to guarantee success. The plan also remodels the BFI’s P&A funding – still escaping criticism leveled at the UK Film Council’s handling of the cash – under a new Distribution Fund. Seed funding will be provided to British businesses via the BFI Business Development Fund. The money comes from a combination of government investment, the earned income of the BFI and the National Lottery.

The BFI’s partners in Film Forever include The Pinewood Group, from which a raft of expansion updates has flowed in recent weeks. Pinewood and BAFTA will help the BFI offer film education to every 5-19 year-old in the UK, providing film clubs, events, master-classes and practical on-set experience. The new plan wrests control of cultural funding from Creative England, which will focus on business and talent development. And the BFI’s commitment to film heritage will see the digitization of 10,000 British films over the next five years, offering access to audiences via a new BFIPlayer application. A public vote will help decide what those 10,000 films will be.

BFI CEO Amanda Nevill said the Film Forever plan represented a renewed commitment to the future of British film. “We are investing where we think we can most make a difference, where we see potential for creative excellence and where we can be the supportive catalyst for change, innovation, business growth and jobs.” Film Forever is the latest result of an 18-month consultation with the industry, the public and the government, which was first reflected in Lord Chris Smith’s Independent Film Policy Review, published in January.

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