Our work in the region supports writers, directors and producers with short film production funding, early feature film development funding, and professional development opportunities through events and labs.

We have compiled a list of common questions we receive from Midlands creatives who get in touch regarding the BFI NETWORK Short Film Fund. You will also see the answers to some more general enquiries towards the bottom of this page. If you are interested in the BFI NETWORK Early Development Fund you can read our separate FAQs page here.

If you are curious about what we do or have a 121 coming up, please have a read through the FAQs on this page.

Can’t find the answers you need here? Email us at slate@filmhubmidlands.org

Does each region in England have its own BFI NETWORK Short Film Fund?

No- the BFI NETWORK Short Film Fund covers the whole of England. When you apply you do so through the BFI NETWORK website. At this point, all applications go to independent readers for assessment before reaching their allocated region.

How do you decide which region a project is allocated to?

This is based on the postcode of the director, which is required at the point of application. This needs to be the permanent living location of the director and directors will be asked to provide evidence of address such as a household utility bill. 

Where does the Midlands region cover?

Birmingham, Coventry, Derby, Derbyshire, Dudley, Herefordshire, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Rutland, Sandwell, Shropshire, Solihull, Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Telford & Wrekin, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wolverhampton and Worcestershire (see BFI Regional Map).

What funding is available?

BFI NETWORK Short Film Fund can award up to £15k for:

  • stand-alone short films 15-minutes or less including credits.
  • the production costs of fiction shorts projects, in both live-action and animation.
  • projects which are viewed flat or in an immersive way i.e. VR as long as they are driven by a narrative.
  • projects with a director based in England who hasn’t yet directed a fiction feature film that has received UK distribution.
  • stand-alone short films which could have a life on the festival circuit- we cannot fund webinar episodes that are part of a larger arc.

I’m thinking of applying for BFI NETWORK funding, where do I start and what advice would you give me?

Firstly, we’d recommend reading or listening to the guidelines here. They give valuable insight into who can apply, what we are looking for and how to put together an application.

If you still have questions once you’ve read the guidelines, we’re happy to help or check below for some further FAQs about making an application. To talk to us you can either book a 121 with a Talent Executive here or you can email questions to us at slate@filmhubmidlands.org.

Who can apply for the BFI NETWORK Short Film Fund?

  • The creative team must be made up of at least two people and the director and producer roles cannot be held by the same person.
  • The team will need to be able to demonstrate a creative track record as part of the application. This could be student work or something created at a grassroots/non-professional level, and it may be in film, television, theatre or another art form.
  • For your project to be handled by the Midlands team, the director must be permanently based in one of the following Midlands locations: Birmingham, Coventry, Derby, Derbyshire, Dudley, Herefordshire, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Rutland, Sandwell, Shropshire, Solihull, Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Telford & Wrekin, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wolverhampton and Worcestershire (see BFI Regional Map).

Please always check the most up to date guidelines for full information.

I’m a Midlands based producer- does the talent I work with also need to be based in the Midlands?

No, as a producer you can work with talent from across England. We recommend you speak to the BFI NETWORK team from the region where your director is permanently based (see BFI Regional Map) before making an application.

I’m a director from the Midlands- can I apply without a producer?

You will need a producer to apply for our short film funding. The director and producer both take on a large number of different responsibilities during production and we want to ensure the people in these roles don’t have a split of focus which could lead to a detrimental experience for them, their cast, crew and may even impact the quality of the final film.

How can I find a producer for my short film project?

Every quarter, we host NETWORKed, a networking mixing event for Midlands based talent to connect. Twice a year in March & August we organise an event called Connect + Collab, which is designed specifically to connect writers and directors with producers. Look at our Resources and opportunities page to see when these are next taking place and details on how to register for upcoming events.

There are also some really useful tips on finding a producer here.

Who completes the application form?

When applying for the BFI NETWORK Short Film Fund, the producer will submit the application and be listed as the named applicant on the form. The team will need to fill in a creative vision section, and the director will need to write their Directors statement, but the producer will be the main contact for the application form.

If the producer intends to claim Film Tax Relief on the project they will need to run the project through a company that is registered with Companies House. The name of the company will also need to be added to the form at the time of application.

Can I apply to the Short Film Fund with more than one project with the same producer-director team?

We aim to provide as many opportunities to as many individuals as possible across the region, and as such we would not fund the same team more than once in a single assessment round in the Midlands.

If members of your team are involved in other projects that are also seeking funds, or have secured funds, from the BFI including BFI NETWORK, you should state this in your application.

It will need to be clear to us that those concerned would be able to fulfil their obligations to each film, should they be offered funding for more than one project. Each team member also needs to be fully available to carry out their function and not have conflicting commitments on the same project.

Can I apply to BFI NETWORK Short Film Fund for less than £15K?

Yes. The maximum amount we award is £15k, but we accept and strongly encourage applications under this amount. The average amount we award per project is around £11K.

Can I apply to BFI NETWORK Short Film Fund if our budget is higher than £15K?

Yes, we do accept applications for higher budget shorts – but please note that the additional funding must be secured or very close to being secured before you submit your application.

No offer of funding from BFI NETWORK can be made until all additional finance is secured, so we would recommend applying when you have a realistic plan for any additional finance needed, as an application that has gaps in finance cannot be progressed.

Is there any specific guidance for budgeting my film?

The fund guidelines contain guidance on budgeting however we have also put together our top tips for submitting a budget that addresses the fund requirements. Each film's budget will be unique to the specific script, team and approach to production but there are some common areas where budgets can be strengthened.

Read our budgeting tips here.

Do you fund genre films?

Yes – we fund a broad range of genres and styles. Check out the Funded by NETWORK page to see examples of the different films we fund.

Do you fund adaptations or biopics?

No - due to the legal clearances required we can only fund original stories.

Can you explain what information you need from the different sections of the application form?

Story (Maximum 200 words)

  • Please give us a brief description of your story- beginning, middle and end. Ensure this answer and the script presents a complete story with a clear narrative
  • Ensure you are presenting a defined story world and characters and that the genre and tone are consistent throughout.
  • Ensure you feel confident the story feels fresh and reflects your creative ambition.

Creative Vision- This should come from your Producer and be a big picture look at the creative aims of the project (Maximum 300 words)

  • Why does your team want to tell this story, why is it important to you? Note that there may be a small amount of overlap in the Director's statement on this point but it should be a broader response and consider the whole team.
  • What do you want audiences to take away from the film? Not all stories need to have a message but they all need to speak to the audience in some way- what is it you want them to feel or think about when they watch your film?
  • Does the story include a perspective that is underrepresented or broadens ideas about a narrowly represented point of view?
  • How are you going to tell the story creatively- anything practical can go into your Production Proposal- but here we want to know your creative ethos and approach. For example:
    • if you are telling a story about an experience that isn't your own or any members of the Director, Writer and Producer team, talk about what equips you to tell this story and what research and consultation you have taken to ensure authenticity in representation.
  • Please note, we are not asking applicants to dig into past or present trauma in order to fill in this form- please only mention what you are happy and comfortable to.

Director's Statment (Maximum 200 words)

  • What is your specific connection to or reasons for wanting to tell this particular story?
  • How does telling this story fit into your body of work and why is this the right stage in your career for a publicly funded short?
  • What are your personal ambitions for the film and what do you hope to go on to do afterwards?

Production Proposal- This should answer any of the questions raised in the assessment on how you will deliver on your proposal for the budget submitted (Maximum 500 words)

  • If you have stated you are working with interns please explain why they are exempt from being paid National Minimum Wage (NMW) and what development opportunities working on the project will offer them
  • If there are stunts of any kind noted in your script- which can include small trips and falls- please explain how you plan to ensure the safety of the cast and crew
  • If you are working with child actors ,we need to know about your approach to safeguarding and see shorter shooting hours aligned to working time laws as well as the chaperone fees in the budget
  • If there are scenes that require nudity or are of an intimate nature you will need to work with an Intimacy Coordinator and build in additional time in your schedule to create a safe set for those involved. Directors UK have a useful set of guidelines for this work here
  • Talk about your plans for taking good care of your cast and crew including specifics about wellbeing interventions, catering and ensuring access to toilet facilities across all your locations
  • Describe any accessibility measures you will be taking to ensure inclusivity of disabled cast and crew
  • Tell us about your approach to health and safety including Covid restrictions- this can be fairly brief as if funded producers will be required to produce Covid production risk assessments

Environmental Impact- Tell us here about your plans to make an environmentally responsible film (Maximum 300 words)

  • How will you work in a way that minimises the contribution of your project to climate change and its impact on the environment? Please note that you’ll be required to do a BAFTA albert carbon footprint calculation for your film, pre– and – post-production.

CV summaries and previous work (Maximum 200 words)

  • CVs should be brief and only tell us about your experience directly relevant to filmmaking or your previous creative practice
  • Tell us about any relevant educational or industry training and awards
  • Only provide links to a couple of examples of previous work and ensure its the work you feel best represents your talents and ability

Where can I watch previously funded BFI NETWORK shorts?

Check out the Funded by NETWORK page to see examples of the different films we fund.

How much contact do you get with the BFI NETWORK Talent Executive if your project is funded?

The Talent Executive provides creative oversight of the short film, as well as working with filmmakers prior to and during production. Once you have been awarded funding, they may also be able to advise you on finding screening opportunities regionally and further afield, potential collaborators for your project and festival strategy for your film.

Can I meet with the Midlands Talent Executive?

The Talent Executives run regular 121 sessions for regional filmmakers to find out more about funding opportunities. You can book in a 121 slot with a Talent Executive here. These meetings book up quickly and are primarily for people who have not already had a 121 or connected with the Exec. If you can't find a slot that works for your schedule please bullet point your questions in an email to slate@filmhubmidlands.org and we’ll be happy to help via email.

I’m an experienced animator with an ambitious short-form project which requires more than the top £15k BFI NETWORK award- where can I look for funding?

In this situation, we would suggest you look to the BFI Short Form Animation Fund.

Can you fund documentary projects?

BFI NETWORK only funds narrative fiction work.

Our partners over at Doc Society provide funding and development opportunities for documentary filmmakers. If you are making or aspiring to make documentaries, they are a valuable resource – check out their website here.

Can you help develop TV projects?

No, we work specifically in short films and feature films up to treatment stage. On occasion shorts we have funded have been picked up for development into TV projects, but this was after the short film was completed.

Can you fund feature films?

BFI NETWORK’s Early Development Fund can take a feature project to treatment stage only. If you are looking for BFI funding to develop a feature script or for feature production finance, you would need to look to the central BFI Development Fund or BFI Production Fund. You can read more about all of BFI's funds here.