Moving Image Resource
A resource for artists’ moving image in England by Benjamin Cook, Director of Lux
This is a brief resource page for artists’ working with the moving image in England. It is a subjective guide which mostly focuses on moving image specific resources, although the reality is that artists’ moving image is now ubiquitous across the art world and exists wherever contemporary visual arts is shown and supported.
There is little in the way of dedicated production support for artists’ moving image in England, unlike in some other European countries, and what exists is divided between art and film with some blurring in between.
Arts Council England
Does not offer specific moving image funding and will actually reject you if you ask about funding for a film project, you have to be really clear that you are applying for funding ‘as an artist’ to make a film. There are two possible funds, the easiest to apply for is Develop Your Creative Practice https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/dycp, not actually a production fund but rather as it says, support to develop your practice. Potential areas of support could be research/travel, undertaking residencies, learning new skills, buying equipment, building networks and generally making your practice more sustainable - could be the starting point for planning a more ambitious film project - which you could then go onto apply for a Project Grant https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/ProjectGrants. It is important to remember that Project Grants are funding to create art experiences for the public, not really funding to just produce art. It is possible to get funding for moving image projects this way but you need to have a really solid exhibition plan, i.e. commitments to show the final project from venues, an exhibition or a tour - it's usually not enough to just say you're going to enter it into film festivals. So before you apply you need to do your research and line up your venues. The money you can get through this fund is more scaled to the ambition of the exhibition rather than the ambition of the production, i.e. the number of venues you have counts more than the scale of the film.
There are three production funds supported by the BFI, their flagship Production Fund (for projects with budgets over £250,000), their short film fund for more emergent filmmakers BFI Network https://network.bfi.org.uk/ and their documentary support managed by the Doc Society. https://docsociety.org/. I have often been told that these funds notionally will support artists making films, the reality is that they need to be projects oriented towards the cinema rather than the gallery and the process is very different to art funding. You usually need to have a producer, and the development and production process will be much more managed by the funds, and can be quite prescriptive in terms of the process. It is really not for everyone! There have been a number of artists that have crossed over into this area of funding, sometimes successfully, but you should not think of it as just another funding source, rather you need to make a conscious decision to work in a different way. It really helps to work with a producer that has a track record with the BFI, and it's unlikely you would be considered for the Production Fund without first making something with BFI Network.
Now, there are a couple of organisations that do offer a sort of curated production/ commissioning scheme. Film and Video Umbrella (FVU) and Jerwood have a moving image award for ‘early career artists’ which supports two productions every two years. https://www.jerwoodfvuawards.com.
The other schemes are run by Film London’s Artists Moving Image Network (FLAMIN) - their flagship FLAMIN Productions supports a small number of productions by ‘mid-career’ artists, unfortunately this is only open to artists based in London. Beyond this they offer their Fellowship programme https://filmlondon.org.uk/flamin/about-the-flamin-fellowship for artists from across England, offering mentoring and a modest fee; and their Jarman Award, an annual prize for moving image artists in the UK which has an award of £10,000, but you need to be nominated for this.
There are few trusts and foundations you can apply to as an individual artist however this small trust regularly supports moving image projects with small grants, usually in the region of £2000, and looks at applications every three months. Unlike many public funds which are concerned with the social effects of your project, the Elephant Trust supports interesting projects which might not find funding elsewhere https://www.elephanttrust.org.uk/
There are a huge number of film festivals in the world, many of which want money to consider your work, then few of them will pay you to show your work. So it is important to be strategic and not blindly enter your work into festivals that are unlikely to show your work or to be of benefit to you. Firstly it's important to do your research - does the festival show the kind of work you make? What reputation does it have? Is it in a place you want to go to?
Why show your work at festivals? Well it is an opportunity for you to reach audiences but more importantly for your work to become visible on a national and international scale, and some even have prizes. You don’t really reap the benefits of film festivals unless you go there though, so if you have a film invited, do ask if they will cover your travel and accommodation costs; also for some festivals you can apply to the British Council Films Department for a travel grant https://film.britishcouncil.org/opportunities/short-film-travel-grant.
You should not think of film festivals as the primary site for your work, because you have no control over the context in which your work will be shown or even if it will be shown. Instead, think of film festivals as a stepping stone to other things such as more exhibition opportunities, increased visibility, and new networks.
Here is a small list of film festivals, all of which I think are good and have a good track record for supporting artists’ moving image work. There are many, many more - so this is just a short personal selection. For more festival open calls you can subscribe to the LUX monthly newsletter at www.lux.org.uk
In the UK there are a couple of dedicated festivals for artists’ moving image (Berwick and Alchemy) then a number of other artists’ film friendly festivals - all listed below. Again this is a subjective list, there are other festivals!
Berwick Film and Media Art Festival
Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival, Hawick, Scotland
Open Documentary Festival, London
London Short Film Festival
Glasgow Short Film Festival
Flatpack Festival, Birmingham
This is a very short list and I have left out many important film festivals, also it is dominated by European and North American festivals which are the ones I am most aware of. The list is a mix of dedicated short and artists film festivals, and larger film festivals which show artists’ moving image as part of a wider programme. For a more exhaustive list subscribe to the LUX monthly e-newsletter at www.lux.org.uk
Oberhausen Short Film Festival, Germany
European Media Art Festival, Osnabrück, Germany
Forum Expanded, Berlinale, Germany
Courtisane, Antwerp, Belgium
International Film Festival Rotterdam
Visions du Real, Nyon, Switzerland
Locarno Film Festival, Switzerland
Copenhagen Documentary Film Festival
Alternativa, Independent Film Festival Barcelona Spain
Punto de Vista, International Documentary Festival of Navarra, Spain
Indielisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
Vila do Conde Film Festival, Portugal
Media City Film Festival, Windsor, Canada
Images Film Festival Toronto, Canada
Ann Arbor Film Festival, USA
COMMISSIONERS/ SUPPORT ORGANISATIONS
There are a number of dedicated support organisations for artists’ moving image in England and here is an outline of what they do. Unfortunately, most of these organisations are currently based in London.
Animate Projects https://animateprojects.org/
Based in Derby, Animate Projects supports artists’ animation projects primarily through commissioning in collaboration with venue partners, it also sometimes organises artist development programmes.
Film and Video Umbrella https://www.fvu.co.uk/
Based in London Film and Video Umbrella mainly commissions artists’ moving image projects in collaboration with venue partners and offers some open opportunities such as the FVU/Jerwood commission (see Funding above).
Film London Artists Moving Image Network (FLAMIN) https://filmlondon.org.uk/flamin
FLAMIN offers a number of open call opportunities as well as its flagship annual Jarman Award (see Funding above).
LUX organises exhibitions at its space in North London, distributes the UK’s largest collection of moving image works by artists, and offers a range of support services for artists working with the moving image, including hosting a number of artist forum groups around the UK, including the LUX South West Critical Forum. It also publishes a monthly newsletter with open calls and opportunities.
London based organisation providing equipment and training for artists working with analogue film.
Development labs are events where you can pitch your film projects to potential funders, supporters, and partners. This is a common model in the film industry, not so much in visual arts, but the following events are receptive to artists’ moving image projects. The format is that you apply, usually with a treatment and a budget, and for some of them you also need to have a producer attached to the project. If accepted you go to the event and usually pitch your project to a room of people before having individual meetings with people selected by the organisers. This sounds daunting but it is a great way to get detailed feedback on your project and expand your networks, particularly internationally.
CPH:Forum, Copenhagen, Denmark
FIDlab, Marseille, France
Visions du Reel Industry, Nyon, Switzerland
Alternate Realities, Sheffield Documentary Film Festival, UK
You should always be thinking about how you can expand your networks. Film festivals are a great place to do this, but there are also a few open submission participatory seminar programmes which will connect you to a wide range of international artists, curators, and academics. These can be expensive, but if you get a place I think it would be something you could apply to Arts Council DYCP to support (see Funding above). These events are based around an intense experience of watching and talking about films together over a few days in one location.
Flaherty Film Seminar https://theflaherty.org/
The granddaddy of film seminars, the Flaherty has taken place annually since 1954 in upstate New York.
Docs Kingdom https://docskingdom.org/
Named after a film by American director Robert Kramer, Docs Kingdom is an annual film seminar which takes place in North Portugal.
The Oberhausen Seminar https://www.kurzfilmtage.de/en/festival/seminar/
Taking place within the Oberhausen Film Festival, the seminar is an annual event presented by Oberhausen Film Festival in collaboration with The Flaherty, Docs Kingdom and LUX.