The British Film Institute (BFI) has announced a new fund for animation, bringing a little cheer to the UK’s sector. The Short Form Animation Fund will put £30,000–£120,000 ($36,000–$146,000) apiece toward works that aren’t primarily commercial, and that run to under 15 minutes.

The mission is fairly broad: the animated films can be made using any technique (including emerging media like virtual reality), and in any genre — as long as it’s narrative. It can be made for pretty much any platform; only works primarily intended for broadcast tv are prohibited. Applicants must be based in the U.K. and have at least three films to their names, with one film having gained significant industry recognition. If selected, they will produce their short with oversight from a BFI executive, and animation specialists or studios if required.

The initiative was launched in collaboration with Animation UK and Animation Alliance UK, two instrumental lobbying groups in the country, as well as Helen Brunsdon, director of the British Animation Awards. According to the BFI, “[The fund] responds to priorities set out in BFI2022, the BFI’s five year strategy, which identified animation as a focus area, and a commitment to encourage continued experimentation in form and where audiences engage with content.”

In addition to the fund, the BFI is compiling detailed research on the UK’s animation industry, to be published early next year. It “aims to highlight where domestic and international links and partnerships can be exploited.” With Brexit looming and its terms still unclear, there is some uncertainty in the country over the future of international co-productions and collaborations.

Both the fund and the research are backed by money from the National Lottery, a major source of arts funding in the UK. The country is one of Europe’s animation powerhouses — its films get more admissions abroad than those of any other nation on the continent — but support, both private and public, for less commercial films has been inconsistent over the decades. Last year, the BFI presented 13 new shorts from emerging animators, which it had commissioned together with the BBC as part of a year-long celebration of the country’s animation heritage.

Applications to the Short Form Animation Fund are open until November 5. Head to the BFI’s website to read the full terms and conditions and submit a proposal. Filmmakers at an earlier stage in their careers can apply instead for a BFI NETWORK award of up to £15,000. Here is a handy overview of animation funding schemes in the UK.

(Image at top: “Slug Life” by Sophie Koko Gate, which was commissioned as part of the BFI’s and BBC’s Animation 2018 program.)

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Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit is European Associate Editor of Cartoon Brew.

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