Creative England, together with its partners the BFI Film Fund, BBC Films and Creative Skillset, have announced the ideas and filmmaking teams that will make up the next iFeatures development slate. Drawn from just under 400 submissions, this year’s standard was judged so high that the selection panel (which took place at BAFTA), which included director Clio Barnard and ex-Focus Films executive Teresa Moneo, elected to support 18 instead of the usual 16 feature-length projects. Each will now undergo an intensive process of creative and commercial development, with support from the partners as well as a wide range of industry professionals. Three films will be ‘greenlit’ in March 2015 at budgets of £350,000.
The impressive roster of writing and directing talent includes Lynsey Miller, Hope Dickson Leach and Dan Gitsham, all recent Screen Stars of Tomorrow; Rachel Delahay, winner of 2013 Evening Standard’s Most Promising Playwright; Dominic Leclerc, director of Skins and The Village; Alice Birch, winner of this year’s George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright; Olivia Poulet, star of The Thick Of It; BAFTA Scotland winner Zam Salim; Broadcast Hotshots Abby Ajayi and Alex Kalymnios; and William Oldroyd whose short Best won the 2013 Sundance London Short Film Competition.
Producers include NFTS graduates Jessica Levick and Fodhla Cronin 0’Reilly, Guiding Light Yaw Basoah as well as Jamie D’Cruz, Rebecca Mark-Lawson, Sarah Brocklehurst and Anna Griffin, whose collective credits already include a clutch of BAFTA, Oscar® and BIFA nominations.
The incredibly diverse slate of projects covers many genres and settings, ranging from a chilling alien sci-fihorror set in the Yorkshire Dales to a hard-hitting drama about the Birmingham riots; from the blackly comic world of used car salesmen and white collar boxing in Derby to a cross-cultural love story played out amongst the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ and Pakistani communities of Oldham. There’s even a beguiling teen road movie that criss-crosses the full breadth of England.
Christopher Granier-Deferre, iFeatures Executive Producer, said: “We were blown away by the level of applicants this year and were particularly pleased to see some great television and theatre talent applying for the initiative. As always we were looking for a wide range of films that had a very distinctive regional story to tell, and the shortlisted teams did not disappoint. We can’t wait to get started working on these projects, with what can only be described as a stellar shortlist.”
Christopher Moll, Head of Film at Creative England and the architect of iFeatures said: “We’ve worked closely with organisations such as Women in Film & TV and the Black Filmmakers Network, amongst others, to increase diversity this year and I’m delighted to see that our overall cohort is now evenly split between men and women. The higher numbers of outstanding female, BAME and LGBT talent coming through is reflected in the much greater diversity of stories that we’ve read. That can only be a good thing for industry and audiences alike.”
Lizzie Francke, Senior Executive at the BFI Film Fund, said: “This is where the fun begins and these 18 filmmaking teams can really begin developing their stories for the screen. Congratulations to them all for making it to this stage and I wish them all the best for the next part of their iFeatures journey.”
Steve Jenkins, Executive Producer for BBC Films said: “The overall high quality and distinctiveness of the projects and teams meant that the decision making was particularly tough. And it clearly won't get any easier! What's obviously striking and most encouraging is the range and mix of diversity across the 18, which is so key to the iFeatures scheme."
You can read more on all the projects in development here.