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Finding funds in the English regions

30 March 2010

English regional screen agencies have been an important source of financing for producers in recent years, helping fund projects such as Married Single Other, Red Riding, Inspector George Gently and The Unloved.

Unsurprisingly, however, there’s a big question mark over how much longer the largesse of English screen agencies will last. With government finances under severe pressure, the traditional backers of the nine English regional screen agencies – the UK Film Council, Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) – are facing their own funding problems.

Many agencies struck fixed term funding deals several years ago with their RDAs or ERDFs which are now coming to an end.

For example, Screen Yorkshire has been one of the most high profile funding agencies in recent years, backing acclaimed dramas such as Red Riding, Lost in Austen and Married Single Other. Its £10m four year funding programme from its local RDA, Yorkshire Forward, comes to an end in a few months and it now has its own funding applications in with unnamed organisations to secure further financing.

Similarly, EM Media is coming to the end of a £6m fund from the ERDF which allowed it to back features such as Shane Meadows' This Is England, Samantha Morton's The Unloved and Anton Corbijn's Control. It's also had further investment to the tune of £500k from its local RDA and it is coming to the end of that. It too is involved in delicate re-funding negotiations.

Meanwhile, Northwest Vision+Media no longer directly gives funding for productions but, says sector lead for broadcast, music and publishing Maureen Walker, it will help producers and directors find and exploit what funding is out there, citing the North West Venture Capital Loan Fund which launches later this year with a dedicated fund of between £15m and £30m for the digital and creative industries.

On the flip side, Northern Film and Media have just launched a £2.4m fund. In a first for a regional screen agency, it's teamed up with a venture capital firm NorthStar Equity Investors to manage the cash. This public/private model is being eyed up with interest by other regional screen agencies.

And Screen East have just launched a £3.5m Low Carbon Fund which aims to invest in a minimum of 15 productions.

See the April edition for Televisual for further details

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