UKFC Development Fund unveils changes to script funding

tanyaseghatchian_mastervisuNew UK Film Council Development Fund head Tanya Seghatchian has unveiled her new plans for the department, with a big focus on supporting writers who haven't had a feature released yet. At first glance this looks like a real step forward for both simplifying the system and supporting new talent. She writes below:

From Tanya Seghatchian...
As you may know, I took over as the Head of the Development Fund at the UK Film Council earlier this year and have spent the last few months reviewing the fund and its practices, in line with both the UK Film Council’s policies and objectives and my own experience of working in film in the UK. 


The published goal of the UK Film Council’s Development Fund is `to broaden the quality, range and ambition of film projects being developed in the UK’. I want to try and use my time to help build as dynamic and talent-driven a home for writers, directors and producers here as I can.
I have devised the following action plan for the fund which, like all things in film, may change as it evolves in practice.
Changes to the fund:

  1. Creating new channels to support first-timers and professionals differently.
  2. Funding all types of applicants: writers, writer-directors, producers on a project by project basis.
  3. Abolishing the development premium.
  4. Simplifying procedures – creating a shorter application form with clear requirements and when appropriate minimising the need for individuals to set up development trust bank accounts.
  5. Offering more empowerment and for production companies with match funding more autonomy during development.
  6. Making commitments to support development up to and including pre-pre production of a project.
  7. Encouraging a mentor culture with experienced filmmakers as appropriate.

 The new funding channels are as follows:  

(i)           First Film Development Programme: For screenwriters and writer/directors who have yet to have a feature length film broadcast or released theatrically.
Level of award will be mostly up to £25K.
Writers can apply as individuals or with producers and/or directors already attached, but it is up to applicants to agree between themselves how awards and title are to be shared.
Applications can be made by individual writers directly.
Personalised development programmes may be devised with ‘mentors’.
·         No need for match funding.
·         No premium or interest on award.
·         Awards made quarterly and only made subject to material of sufficient merit being submitted.
(ii) Feature Film Development Programme: For feature length films from producers, writers, directors and companies with a demonstrable track record.
·         Films creatively driven by the applicant with a view to them being ‘set-up’ and achieving their commercial potential.
Financial awards generally granted on a project by project basis.
Writers, writer/directors with their own companies and a plan for the development process may also apply directly if they can drive development themselves.
Partnership funding on projects, especially match funding from reliable end users actively encouraged - but partners not essential in every case.
Requests for pre-pre-production funding come through this stream.
No premium or interest on award.

In order to help further encourage ambitious and original projects and as an additional measure to ensure good quality UK films, the Development Fund will also proactively make awards for targeted funding initiatives and invite applications for Signature Awards from filmmakers  with a distinctive voice/style.

We are currently restructuring the fund to best achieve these objectives and will be advertising new job vacancies in the next week to manage the new structure, so please bear with us over the next month or so.
We will also be writing separately to everyone who has a project currently in development with the fund to discuss it. As there have been more than 550 projects backed, this review of existing projects is taking some time, so again we appreciate your patience and consideration.
In the meantime, you will be able to find more detail about the new terms for development funding, the funding programmes, application forms, FAQs, guidelines and instructions of how to apply on our website at
Our project co-ordinators will also be ready to assist with any further queries.