iFeatures: A Case Study of Low-budget Independent Filmmaking

Nathan Townsend (University of York)

This research project will examine the history and current operation of iFeatures, an annual filmmaking lab and competition supported by the BFI, BBC Films, Creative England and Screen Skills which develops ‘low-budget, high-quality debut features’ across the UK.

More specifically, it will examine the business and leadership skills that are practiced during the lab and the ways in which they are employed at the interface of three distinct types of institution: local state-supported organisations (e.g., BFI Network, Creative England); national state-supported organisations (e.g., BFI, BBC Films) and national or transnational businesses (e.g., Picturehouse Entertainment, Protagonist Pictures).

Researching this chain of interrelationships exposes the routes to market for new products within the independent film sector, which is typically characterised by the ‘derived demand’ of commissioning and acquisition practices, rather than the ‘market demand’ created by advertising, publicity, and audiences. In turn, this research focuses on the challenges of understanding future audiences within this industrial context and considers the current skills and talent shortages associated with it. Consequently, success measures include an enhanced understanding of this complex system of local, national, and transnational interrelationships which, in turn, generates knowledge of use to the Yorkshire and Humber screen industries.

This project is funded through SIGN’s First Grants Scheme.

This project is part of:

  • Research

    Investigating the challenges facing the screen industries and devising evidence-based interventions