The BFI and British Council open expanded Travel Grant Fund

Industry News  |  01 March 2024

The fund will provide £623,000 over three years to support producers and filmmakers and XR creatives in gaining international exposure for their projects and find opportunities for international collaboration.

The BFI and British Council have launched a new Travel Grant Fund to support filmmakers and producers in attending international industry events around the world. The funding will increase opportunities for independent filmmaking talent to gain international exposure for their new film and virtual reality/immersive storytelling projects at eligible overseas festivals, markets, training/development and co-production events, labs and showcases. The fund also expands upon the current travel grant support provided by the two organisations with new funding for feature length work at festivals and co-production forums.

The new fund, jointly backed by the BFI and the British Council, totals £623,000 over three years (2024-2027) and includes BFI National Lottery funding (through the BFI International Fund and through BFI NETWORK, the latter of which has supported travel grant fund for many years). In providing this essential support, the fund will be supporting both early career filmmakers just starting to build an international profile, and more established talent seeking to increase their success and career sustainability through gaining international presence and developing connections with international counterparts. 

The Travel Grant Fund will be managed by the British Council. The BFI has had a partnership with the British Council since 2012 to provide travel grants to new and emerging filmmakers. In supporting more than 750 filmmakers to date, this form of funding is highly regarded within the UK and the international industry for enabling UK talent to attend and present their work at some of the world’s leading festivals and showcases including Berlin, Cannes, Venice, Toronto, SXSW, Sundance, Rotterdam, Clermont Ferrand and Winterthur. It also enables UK filmmakers and producers to be proactive in seeking new potential international collaborators and partners.

Grants will be a contribution towards travel and accommodation costs, participant fees for labs, training and co-pro forums, and for selected set-up costs related to XR works.

The fund is separated into five distinct grant strands:

  1. Short Film Festival Grants – for new/emerging writers or directors (those who have yet to have a feature film produced and distributed in the UK), and for producers of any experience level to support a short film screening at an eligible festival;
  2. Feature Film Festival Grants – for producers, to take a feature film to an eligible festival;
  3. Interactive/immersive/XR Grants – for XR creatives with an interactive/immersive/XR project at an eligible event;
  4. Lab Grants – for producers, writers, or directors working on feature projects attending an eligible creative development lab; and    
  5. Co-Production Forum Grants – for producers with feature projects attending an eligible market/co-production forum.  

We are excited to be renewing and expanding the BFI NETWORK-funded travel grants programme with our partner the British Council. Producers and talent being able to physically attend and present their projects at festivals and forums really helps to boost exports as well as providing opportunities to co-produce and collaborate with current and future international partners.

Denitsa Yordanova, Head of the UK Global Screen Fund and International Funds at the BFI

Over many years now we have witnessed the value of on the ground international festival experiences for filmmakers and XR creatives, particularly those at the beginning of their careers. This new-look expanded fund, delivered hand in hand with the BFI, means we can offer increased support at a critical time for the industry. We’re hoping it will encourage new collaborations and give a confidence boost to international relationships for UK talent as a result.

Briony Hanson, Director of Film at the British Council

Two ‘Key Lists’ of eligible festivals and events for which travel grants will be available have been published featuring a cross section of events including the premier global markets alongside more specialist platforms championing under-represented voices.

The Travel Grant Fund has been designed to complement UK Global Screen Fund (UKGSF) support, which the BFI administers for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, by covering more than 30 film festivals that are not covered by the UKGSF’s Festival Launch Support strand which is particularly sales focused. 

More information on making an application to the Travel Grant Fund is on the British Council and BFI websites.