1. Introduction

Film Feels is the framework for FAN’s UK-wide cinema season, with its own identity and marketing, designed to reach key audiences and support your own programming and audience development.

Our aim is to inspire programming that offers the viewer something extra - whether that’s critical engagement, entertaining special events or rediscovered works presented in new ways - that foregrounds the power of cinema as a collective, bigger than life experience. We want to offer audiences a chance to discover films across eras, genres and national borders, and the venues and festivals that curate them.

Film Feels returns for 2021, once again celebrating films’ unique ability to transport us, to illuminate ideas, and to spark a conversation. This year we are feeling Hopeful and are welcoming programmes and events that look at films imbued with hope, dreams of the future and new ways of reimagining film itself with a particular emphasis on creating space for voices that don't get heard in mainstream programming. We will be welcoming both in-venue, online, and hybrid proposals. 

It is open to all film exhibitors who are FAN members and operating programmes online, in venues or off site in Summer 2021.

We are offering funding up to £5,000 for organisations to present screenings and engagement activity as part of the season.

Key elements of the programme

  • Small to medium scale funding for special events & curated programmes 
  • Open to collaborative projects between organisations working locally or across different UK regions
  • Flexible support for both online and physical, or hybrid, film programmes
  • Media campaign, brand assets and social media activation to broaden awareness 
  • Access to dedicated Film Feels platform provision through Indy Cinema, for online programmes
  • Advice, guidance and resources to help you broaden your reach and deliver accessible activity
  • UK-wide listings resource to collate and promote FAN activity

All proposals should respond to the Major Programmes key strategic objectives, which are outlined in the following pages. Hub Members must also be able to set out how they will address the BFI Diversity Standards.

Proposals must also demonstrate how they will operate safely with COVID-19 in mind, reference can be made to the UKCA's Cinemas - keeping workers and customers safe during Covid-19 Guidelines.


Film Feels: Hopeful proposals can be submitted at any time between 26 April and 11 June 2021.

Applications will be assessed in two rounds

  • Round 1 deadline: 14 May aiming to confirm support by w/c 24 May 
  • Round 2 deadline: 11 June aiming to confirm support by w/c 7 June 

We appreciate that planned venue reopening and UK easing of lockdown is dependent on multiple factors, and that for many venues, staffing, resources and timelines for reopening vary, hence this season being open to online or hybrid delivery.

The Film Feels Hopeful campaign and listings will run until the end of August 2021.

2. Thematic Programming Prompt

Film Feels: Hopeful

One year since a global pandemic closed our cinemas and restricted physical events, we have had time to reflect on our artform and its place in the community and the hearts of audiences. We have felt yearning for the big screen experience and the simple pleasures of being alone together in the dark. Simultaneously there have been seismic shifts in the industry and cinema, and so now we must reckon with how things were and what must change. The mood is apprehensive, but also hopeful - we can imagine new ways to amplify new stories, better serve all audiences, and enjoy the communal experience of film once again. 



Stories imbued with hope for new beginnings, better tomorrows and the goodness that can be found in humanity

Indicative Titles: 

  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (dir. Michel Gondry)
  • Little Miss Sunshine (dirs. Dayton and Faris)
  • Precious (Dir Lee Daniels)
  • The Straight Story (Dir David Lynch)
  • Girlhood (Dir Celine Sciamma)
  • Goodbye Lenin! (Dir Wolfgang Becker)
  • Whale Rider (Dir Niki Caro)
  • Columbus (Kogonada)
  • Happy- Go- Lucky (dir. Mike Leigh)
  • Leave No Trace (Dir Debra Granik)

Dreams of the Future

From smart cities and clean energy to food equity and social justice - whether fiction or non-fiction, films can help us to reimagine the future.

Indicative titles: 

  • The Need to Grow (dir: Herring & Wirick)
  • 2040 (dir: Damon Gameau)
  • Bugs (dir: Andreas Johnsen)
  • Metropolis (dir: FW Murnau)
  • Her (dir: Spike Jonze)
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild (dir: Benh Zeitlin)
  • The Mystery of the Third Planet (dir: Roman Kachanov)

New Ways

Who gets to make films and who gets to see them? Showcasing short film, accessible formats, artists film and debut features from exciting new talent and exploring new approaches to bringing original and previously unheard voices to our programmes. This strand is about format and approach, we will be looking to encourage experimentation and discover new voices in programming. 

What we are looking for

We expect funded projects to go beyond the everyday, making use of public funds to enhance or deepen audience experience, or to reach those who previously have been under-represented or disengaged with independent cinema.

Low level social media interactions such as tweetalongs, watch parties, can be supported through our channels and listings, or a small funding contribution toward marketing staff time, but our priority for funding will be to support projects that offer ‘something extra’.

These might include:

  • Projects that offer additional enhancements to deepen the film watching experience - for example talent interviews, critical analysis.
  • Projects that innovate - for example playing with interactive marketing or interactive viewing.
  • Projects that clearly embed access and inclusion, targeting new priority audiences, or under-represented groups for your organisation.

3. Key info at a glance:

Total amount available: £70,000

Financial support: up to £5,000

Applications open: Monday 26 April 2021

Applications close: Friday 11 June 2021

Financial support confirmed from: June 2021

Activity window:  14 June 2021 - 31 August 2021

4. What are our strategic objectives?

The following are key priorities for Major Programmes, proposals must be focussed on one or more of these areas:

  • Increase audience engagement with film and deepen the quality of cultural experience 
  • Increase the confidence of FAN members to screen a wider range of films 
  • Boost the engagement of audiences aged 16-30 
  • Increase the diversity of FAN audiences 
  • Raise the profile of film as an art form and create a dialogue about its place in our cultural life 

5. Screening fees, rights and licensing

You must clear licensing agreements for any films screened, through the rights holder or distributor.

If utilising the Indy Cinema platform for online activity, Indy may be able to support you in approaches to distributors as part of their booking service.

We will not support projects that use unlicensed content or encourage piracy, and will expect you to indicate the sources you intend to use for your activity, in your application.

Where you are able to negotiate exclusive content such as screening work directly licensed from a filmmaker, we will expect you to ensure the security of their content and to negotiate compensation with the rights holder, directly.

For more information about different kinds of online film content available for UK audiences, take a look at our main pages for links to:

  • Reframed Films regularly updated list of titles available on UK platforms
  • ‘How To’ guides for delivering online activity on The Bigger Picture
  • Information about different platforms and links to relevant webinars on our main page for this season

6. Our commitment to inclusion

  • BFI Diversity Standards

In line with the BFI Diversity Standards we encourage activity aimed at, and/or co-produced with, under-represented groups. The Standards focus on under-representation in relation to age, disability, ethnicity, gender, LGBTQ+, religion and belief (as they pertain to the Equality Act 2010), as well as socio-economic background and geographical location.

We are particularly committed to ensuring disproportionately affected audiences, such as Black, disabled, Deaf, and neurodivergent people, can experience independent film and be welcomed into cinema spaces.

All proposals will be asked to demonstrate how their activity promotes inclusivity among audiences, on screen and in the workforce.

We ask that all proposals embrace the Standards, and priority will be given to proposals that do this in a clear and convincing way. Applicants should particularly focus on Standard D and how their proposal provides inclusive audience development opportunities.

The Hub team is on hand to help applicants engage with the Standards, please get in touch for more information.

  • Access and Inclusion

We expect you to think about access for your project, particularly if you are targeting people who don't typically attend or have access to your events.

We will ask you to tell us what you will do to remove barriers to participation as part of your application.

Your answer will show us how your project addresses standard C (relating to audience development activity) of the BFI Diversity Standards.

If you are delivering activity online we expect to see provision for subtitling, captions and/or audio description in your project budget and narrative proposal.

7. Additional areas of focus

  • Environmental Sustainability

We are committed to minimising the negative environmental impact of the work we support and ask all funding recipients to contribute to this aim. In your proposal please summarise steps you are taking to minimise the environmental impact of your activity.

Some inspiring examples of exhibitors working in this area include: Scott Cinemas, HOME, Curzon and Depot. The BFI has a number of recommended resources that may be useful when planning around sustainability.

  • Bullying and Harassment

Bullying, harassment and racism have no place in our industries and we expect all organisations we fund to share our commitment to this principle.

The BFI and BAFTA have developed a set of principles and zero-tolerance guidance in consultation with organisations, unions and industry bodies across the film, television and games industry in response to urgent and systemic issues. 

These documents can be found in the BFI’s Bullying and harassment prevention hub. We ask all applicants to engage with these principles by, as a minimum, reading these documents and sharing them within your organisation. 

All our funding agreements include a warranty seeking compliance with all applicable legislation and codes of practice relating to this matter.

8. Who can apply?

You must be a Hub Member in order to access Film Audience Network funding opportunities. FAN Membership includes organisations of various sizes and shapes - from community cinemas to festivals to multi-arts centres. Contact your local Film Hub for information or to become a member. 

We will not support applications from distributors or touring distribution costs as our funding is for film exhibitors that are part of the BFI Film Audience Network.

9. How much can I apply for?

Members can request up to £5,000 per proposal.

Please note that we are not able to fund 100% of activity costs. While we do not have a set percentage requirement for match funding, we expect to see box office income and other partnership support - whether in cash, volunteer time or other in-kind contributions - included in the budget.

The deadline for final proposals is Friday 11 June 2021.

10. Use of financial support

Each organisation will have its individual needs - however, broadly speaking, the fund can support the following costs.

Eligible expenses:

  • Social media spend such as boosted posts or targeted advertising
  • Graphic design (note funded projects will need to follow FF brand guidance)
  • Host and talent speakers fees
  • A reasonable estimate of coordination time 
  • Online transaction fees and screening licences
  • In-venue screening licences
  • Captioning or other access resources 

If you are applying for the maximum level of funding we will expect to see a detailed breakdown of costs in your budget and would also expect to see income generation as matched funding.

This list is not exhaustive and other items may be considered. 

Ineligible Expenses:

All proposed spend should contribute to the activity proposed. Beyond this, there are some areas not suitable for support from the fund. These include:

  • Filmmaking costs (including workshops), support for filmmakers to develop or distribute their own work, or for programmes that exclusively engage filmmaker audiences
  • Capital costs covering building repairs, additional health and safety measures required due to Covid-19 including the purchasing of PPE.
  • Programmes entirely comprised of free events, unticketed events or screenings where audience numbers cannot be reported
  • General running costs of organisations not specifically related to the activity
  • Activity that should be covered by statutory education, including events taking place on school grounds/in school hours
  • Events not primarily focused on film exhibition
  • Activity covered by existing funding arrangements
  • Programmes that duplicate provision in the same area
  • Activity taking place in a venue not open to the public - for example members only venues
  • The set-up of new film clubs and opening of new cinema venues
  • All proposals must be additional activity not covered by any support your organisation receives from your local Film Hub.

We will not support costs to develop a new or unique standalone streaming platform for your organisation as we are providing access to an existing platform via Indy Cinema, or you may partner with another existing platform provider such as YourScreen or through a venue.

If you are a venue or established festival and have already developed your own player, we will accept costs relating to specific screening, hosting or transaction fees for this season but we will not support annual license or infrastructure costs.

11. How to apply for financial support

Application instructions are provided in the following pages. If you have particular access requirements (for example easy read documents), would like to submit your application in another way or have queries about the application process, get in touch with our team who will be happy to discuss this.

If you have access requirements that mean you need assistance when applying for support, you may be able to request financial support through the BFI Access Support Scheme. Find out more information here.

In order to apply you will be asked to submit a short proposal form and budget. The proposal form will give you the opportunity to describe your activity and how it contributes to the Major Programmes priorities. If you have any questions about the fund, the submission process or would like to discuss your proposal before applying please get in touch.

 12. Assessment criteria:

Your proposal will be assessed by the Major Programmes team. We will specifically look at:

  • Activity eligibility: does the proposed activity meet the priorities and timescale of the fund?
  • Audience reach: what are the audience targets, and will the planned activity deliver them? Subsidy per head will be a consideration. Whilst we appreciate projecting admissions in the current context will be difficult please provide estimates.
  • Impact: what is the cultural ambition of the proposed programme? Are relevant partnerships in place to effectively deliver the activity?
  • Organisational experience: is the organisation able to carry out the proposed activity, including delivering marketing, audience development and evaluation plans?
  • Budget: are all reasonable costs considered? Does the budget balance and are all costs eligible? Have access costs been included?
  • Legacy: what are the longer-term plans to continue to reach audiences?
  • BFI Diversity Standards: does the proposal clearly address the BFI Diversity Standards?
  • Please note that we expect this fund to be oversubscribed and may not be able to fund your activity even if it meets the criteria.  

13. Audience Targets

As this project is focusing on innovation and quality of experience, we expect you to target your audience and provide realistic estimates for the number of people you will engage with.

As social distancing may well still be in place we will be anticipating lower targets than in previous years.

For online activity, although the internet offers ‘global reach’, it’s a crowded market with a lot of competition for attention. We advise you to think carefully about who you want to engage with and how you will reach them. You may also need to factor in audiences for activity after any ‘live’ element, if you plan to record your activity or make it available after any initial event. Please detail these considerations in your application.

14. Decisions and Feedback

Unsuccessful proposals

If you are unsuccessful in your proposal, you will be contacted by email. Being unsuccessful does not prevent you from accessing future Hub opportunities.

Successful proposals

If your proposal is successful, the assessment panel may discuss any required amendments and wish to see a revised plan before confirming financial support. This process can take additional time. Activity timelines will need to accommodate this.

If there are no recommendations or amendments to be made, you will be sent a confirmation email setting out the terms and conditions attached to the financial support.

These will cover payment information, crediting guidelines and monitoring and reporting requirements. All funded activity will need to survey their audiences using our standard template - please bear this in mind when planning your evaluation strategies.

15. Complaints and Appeals

The funding decision is final. Inevitably applications will be turned down and applicants may be disappointed by this result. Formal appeals against the final decision will not be considered unless the applicant has good cause to believe that the procedures for processing the application were not adhered to, or applied in such as a way as to prejudice the outcome of the application.

A copy of the Complaints and Appeals procedure can be found here.

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