The BFI has today announced new development projects through its Young Audiences Content Fund (YACF). Designed to boost the strength of U.K. production, the Development Fund backs producers from all corners of the U.K., providing a vital avenue of support for creators of new original content for audiences up to 18 years old. The latest slate demonstrates how the fund is bringing opportunities to new and emerging voices with a diverse range of projects that are intended for broadcast but are not yet in a position to secure a commission.
Five animated or mixed-media projects are included in the list: Animation Garden’s LGBT+ positive sketch show for kids 6-12, Mustard and Ketchup; Rebecca Atkinson’s disability visibility series Mix Mups (Mackinnon and Saunders); LoveLove Films’ MIPTV pitch winner Pop Paper City; The Sound Collector, featuring a main character who wears hearing aids, from Eagle vs. Bat; and Illuminated Films’ storybook adaptation Rocket, about an adventurous girl with an insatiable curiosity.
The industry has been embracing the Fund as a route to develop projects, and the BFI have received 181 applications for development in its first year. The YACF has confirmed they have awarded 63 development applications in their first 12 months, with a committed spend of £1,719,620 on development projects to date. The Fund is supporting a variety of new television projects for all ages up to 18 years which represent young people from across the U.K., and alongside this development slate, details on Production Awards will be announced in due course.
The YACF remains open for business amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, welcoming new funding applications from producers as well as supporting existing development and production activities. Awards are still being made every week and as ever, the team welcomes program ideas that specifically help young people in the U.K. understand the world around them and offer a chance to see their lives, in all their diversity, reflected on screen.
“We’re incredibly proud of the range of projects we’re able to support within our development slate, nurturing stories and concepts we feel will enrich television for young audiences. Throughout the first year, we have been overwhelmed by the quality of the development applications, and I’m hugely excited about the exciting new U.K. talent we have been able to support,” said Jackie Edwards, Head of the YACF at BFI. “We are of course continuing to support and fund applications through lockdown, and as the majority of development activity can be accomplished remotely, we encourage producers with great new ideas to continue submitting applications.”
John Whittingdale, Minister for Media and Data, noted, “It is hugely important that the diverse experiences of young people across the country are represented on screen. This publicly-funded scheme continues to support homegrown talent and original content that not only inspires our younger generation but is also properly representative of the world we live in.”
The latest round of development funding awards, made over the last six months, embraces all techniques, genres and audiences, and includes a mix of programs addressing key social issues such as LGBTIQ+, disability, climate change and racial discrimination.
The development funding slate’s animated projects are:
- Animation Garden’s Mustard and Ketchup is an animated comedy sketch show providing positive and age appropriate representation for the LGBT community, with the character’s sexuality incidental to their madcap adventures.
- Mackinnon and Saunders’ Mix Mups, an animation series created by journalist Rebecca Atkinson, founder of #ToysLikeMe, a not-for-profit organisation which aims to increase the representation of disability in toys. This series seeks to better represent disability in children’s television.
- Love Love Films’ mixed-media preschool show Pop Paper City, which incorporates live-action instructional craft sequences into animation with the aim of inspiring children to create their own worlds and stories.
- Eagle vs Bat‘s mixed media show The Sound Collector uses stop-motion to share short stories about a little guy and his love for sound. The lead character wears hearing aids and is a rare representation of disability (hearing impairment) on screen.
- Illuminated Films’ snappy, thoughtful and rewarding animated preschool adventure Rocket is based on the book Look Up! by Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola. Rocket is an inquisitive, excitable young girl with an insatiable thirst for knowledge and understanding. We follow her journey growing up testing, trying, and learning new things (to varying degrees of success) and exploring her identity as a young girl of West Indian heritage, living in a diverse and bustling inner city.
Live-action projects are:
- Elysian Film Group’s teen drama Future Hot, about a group of young climate change activists who decide to take action – only for the corporate world to strike back.
- Singer Films’ documentary series Redefining Refugees, following refugee and Olympian Yusra Mardini and aimed at inspiring young Muslim women in the U.K. to compete in professional sport whilst confronting the misrepresentation of refugees.
- Duck Soup Films’ teen drama Dance School, about an ethnically and socio-economically diverse group of students aged 16-25 attending a world-renowned dance school in Chapeltown, Leeds.
- Empress Films’ documentary series They, chronicling the lives of four extremely contrasting LGBTIQ+ teenagers across the U.K. Shining a light on teenage experience, exploring what unites and divides them and emphasising the positive that comes with being queer, young and proud.
- Bryncoed-television’s teen drama As Dead As It Gets is a rites of passage series about a group of 16-year-old school friends from Croydon. On completion of their GCSE exams and energised by their new-found freedom, our teens dive into experience with little regard for the consequences – navigating drugs, sex, trauma, death and redemption.
- Shudder Film’s scripted comedy from Gavin Williams and Jack Tarling, Synch Estate takes an urgent social issue – and gives it a satirical, sci-fi twist. Fast-paced, funny, sexy, and rude, it will reflect the spirit of the U.K. blending edgy, bawdy humor with grounded character-driven drama.
- Hillbilly Films’ comedy drama Troupes, set in a coastal town in the North West of England, from writer Georgia Christou.
- Bowled Over Media’s exclusive film Young Bee Keepers of the World Unite will follow young British bee-keepers at schools and bee clubs as they work towards representing their country at the International Meeting of Young Beekeepers (IMYB). As children all over the world take tackling the climate crisis into their own hands, bee-keeping is a practical response growing in popularity.
- Scattered Pictures’ imagination grabbing comedy series Ella and Sir Whoopsalot has been created by Newcastle-based comedy writer Bridget Deane, directed by Emmy Award winner Simon Gibney, and set in a real-life castle. It centers on the friendship and adventures of nine-year-old Ella Chambers and her best friend, Sir Whoopsalot – who just happens to be a six-hundred-year old knight.
- Bandit Cornwall’s Alien8ed, a contemporary sci-fi action drama series sees a group of Cornish teens test their friendships, prove their maturity, ingenuity and bravery by working together to smash a growing threat.
Learn more about the Young Audiences Content Fund at www.bfi.org.uk/yacf