BFI Creative Challenge Fund via National Lottery

What is the Creative Challenge Fund?

The BFI National Lottery Creative Challenge Fund aims to decentralise project development in a way that is complementary to our typical development support. It will support organisations to run creative development programmes, such as labs and workshops series, to stimulate a healthier, wider ecosystem in which emerging UK filmmakers can develop new projects.

We will issue one challenge per funding round aiming to stimulate a range of organisations to submit applications to run programmes addressing this challenge. Through this we aim to make targeted interventions in the areas of the industry that our challenges focus on and to galvanise support for a greater range of talent. All programmes must be designed to benefit filmmakers resident in the UK.

In time, the fund hopes to have supported a thriving ecosystem of programmes that continue to respond to evolving needs. It will run initially between 2023-26, with around five separate challenges issued across this period; in all we expect to support around 24 separate development programmes. No single challenge will be able to serve all parts of the industry, but we aim across the three years to fund a mosaic of interventions that touches multiple areas that are currently underserved.

The first year of the fund (2023-24) will be a pilot year. We may revise elements of the guidelines throughout the three-year period.

How are the challenges identified?

Challenges will be chosen by the BFI by considering the following sources of information: 

  • the overall profile of previous recipients of BFI National Lottery funding, and areas of under-representation within this
  • the industry and public consultation the BFI ran with Britain Thinks, which summarises industry needs and priorities 
  • the findings of an evaluation of the Film Fund (2017-22)
  • challenges recognised by the BFI Filmmaking Fund through its support for production and development in UK independent film 
  • other recent studies and reports relating to project and talent development

Where we are planning to issue a challenge focused on a specific under-represented group we intend to consult with the relevant filmmaking community in order to inform how we shape and express that challenge.

What type of programmes can be funded?

All challenges will focus on project development, seeking programmes that support filmmakers to develop specific projects while also gaining wider talent development and growing their creative practice. This means all participants of programmes should attend with a specific project to develop. Programmes should support the advancement of these projects through a structured, ‘hothouse’ development environment, and prime these projects to go on to receive financial support from the marketplace. This will generally be development support, unless a programme is designed to support projects in later stage development to move towards securing production funding.

Applicants can propose programmes of various shapes and sizes, whether short or long term, virtually or in person, etc. Programmes may include shadowing opportunities, mentoring, creative practice sessions (e.g. read-throughs, scene shoots), peer support, finance and packaging advice, long-term career planning, and matching filmmakers with industry advocates and champions.  

We expect programmes to be delivered by suitably experienced practitioners; these may include facilitators, producers, script editors, wellbeing providers or other industry specialists. Applications should also include strong outreach and engagement proposals.

How will the results of each challenge be shared with the wider sector?

All organisations receiving funding will be asked to provide the BFI, as part of wider final reporting, with a summary of how their programme addressed the challenge which is written for publication on the BFI website. This should be targeted at sharing successful approaches; giving transparency around challenges encountered and how these were, or could be, addressed; and providing, where appropriate, some profile for the filmmakers and projects taking part in the programme.

Access support when making your application

We can provide assistance to applicants who have access requirements and need some support in order to make an application. See Access support for BFI funding applicants.

When you can apply

Applications will open on 24 October 2023 and close at midday on 5 December 2023.

How to apply

You can apply online once you’ve read the funding guidelines in full. The guidelines state the challenge for this round and provide a link to the application form.

If you have any questions relating to this funding or your application, email

Since the very first National Lottery draw in 1994, public support – raised directly through National Lottery ticket sales – has funded more than 670,000 projects, raising more than £46 billion for good causes. As a recipient, it is important to publicly acknowledge the source of this funding throughout the lifespan of the project. Effectively communicating that it is supported by BFI National Lottery funding ensures those engaging with the work recognise the value and benefit of this unique Good Cause funding. Therefore, if your application is successful, you will be responsible for prominently crediting BFI National Lottery funding and thanking National Lottery players. As such, you are encouraged to ensure that elements of your project/s which have the potential to engage a broad public audience are capitalised on, in order to communicate this message. More details will be supplied once an award has been made.