Report: The BFI YACF: Success, Learning and the Future
- The first year of the YACF has helped strengthen the production pipeline throughout the UK.
- Please use word of mouth to help increase the plurality of voices the YACF seeks to amplify.
- Use available funding to help you look through the unknowns to a bright future.
Nico Franks of C21 Media explained that BFI’s Young Audiences Content Fund was introduced at the CMC in 2019. Jackie Edwards, head of the YACF at BFI, revealed that, over the last year, the fund received 227 applications, of which BFI approved 81. Around £13 million has been awarded in funding.
Lockdown made public service even more important as a means of creative expression for children, and the fully online YACF application process meant that the BFI could support the screen industries under lockdown conditions without missing a beat.
The YACF now has compelling data about increased diversity from the supply side of the media food chain. However, Covid-19 has disrupted the data available on the audiences side of the food chain, which is key data for broadcasters. YACF will be continuing to gather data to help media producers.
The YACF’s ‘See Yourself on Screen’ challenge was designed to facilitate new stories from new voices. According to feedback, only 25% of the entrants felt they saw children like themselves on TV, indicating the need for a more nationally represented and inclusive landscape. BAME and disabled applicants were under represented in the first round. Jackie has received feedback from commissioners that the quality of pitches has improved, which is attributable to properly resourced development funding.
Louise Bucknole, of VCNI UK & Ireland, reported that YACF enabled them to expand diversity and look at new formats they haven’t had on Milkshake!, such as drama. The fund also allowed them to work with more regions, to get into production faster, and better facilitate screen skills training for the industry. She’s been pleased with the quality of content coming through, attributable to the funding. The fund has also been helpful in allowing producers to further develop projects with her feedback in mind.
Jo Killingley, of Dot to Dot Productions, utilised the YACF for a live-action arts series ‘MakeAway TakeAway’ which allowed for quick and decisive partnering. The fund allowed the indy production to pay proper wages to young talent. Arts programs struggle to get commissioned because they are not seen as commercial, so the development funds helped to overcome the barrier.
Emma Rosa-Dias, of Afro-Mic productions, was able to use the funds for ‘Letters in Lockdown’, a quick turnaround production produced under lockdown. Emma benefited from the YACF’s readily accessible help while navigating the development process. She sought grittier stories for this production, which she hopes new voices will relate to. The fund also allowed her to properly pay young talent.
The first-year awards emphasized development and set a lower target for production, which will shift this year to an emphasis on production funds. The development funds have become more important in lockdown, and Jackie hopes that producers will use them to keep their companies going until production can resume at a more normal pace.
Senior Reporter & Editor of C21Kids Magazine
ViacomCBS Networks International
VP, Programming Kids, VCNI UK & Ireland
Managing Director and Founder
BFI, Young Audiences Content Fund
Head of Fund
Dot To Dot Productions
Nickelodeon UK & Ireland
The Children's Media Foundation