Film4, Channel 4’s feature film division, will receive a record £25m in funding next year after securing 22 Bafta and 15 Oscar nominations in this year’s awards season.
The £10m funding increase, up from £15m in 2015, represents a significant vote of confidence by the network in its big-screen division, which backed acclaimed productions including Room, Carol, 45 Years and Amy.
Titles backed by Film4 this year have a total of 15 Oscar nominations including a Best Picture and Best Director nomination and three of the five Oscar Best Actress Nominees: Cate Blanchett, Brie Larson, Charlotte Rampling. The total tally of Film4’s awards nominations and wins across the Academy, BAFTA, critics groups, guilds, etc. in 2015 to date is: 181 wins out of a total 581 nominations (95% of which were in the U.S.) across 11 films, including Room, Suffragette and The Lobster.
Film4 is known for working with the most distinctive and innovative, both new and established, talent. CEO David Kosse spoke to Screen International about his vision and strategy for Film4’s future:
“In many cases, we’re not making money on [Film4-backed] movies that are making money. Other people are making money. So we’re choosing the projects, we’re developing the projects, we’re investing in the projects but our position in many of these projects isn’t where it should be. It doesn’t take a lot of analysis to show that had we taken a bigger position in a number of those films and reduced the costs that come with a multi-party agreement, we would have made more money when the film was successful, and really not lost much more when the film wasn’t successful. But in order to do that, you needed more money that would allow you to take bigger swings.”
“That could mean holding onto the UK rights… It doesn’t mean we’re going to distribute the film but we’ll just take a bet that the film will be good enough to find a distributor. Given that we’ve made 110 films in the past 10 years and 98% of them got distributed, that’s a pretty good bet. Or it could mean something like the Fox Searchlight deal [on Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri], where we co-finance 50-50 and keep their fees as low as we possibly can, meaning we get to participate if the film’s a hit. It could also be gap financing in a film, or part-mezzanine financing. It could be any number of these options as long as it makes sense. That’s the key strategic change we were able to demonstrate to David [Abraham, Channel 4 chief executive] and the board.”