FOCUS is delivered by Film City Futures in partnership with Scottish Documentary Institute, and supported by Screen Scotland. The project was developed in response to feedback from the sector, which indicated that there was a lack of access to sector specific business support for screen sector companies.
FOCUS supports independent microbusinesses or SMEs who require specialist advice in order to grow their business, but who do not have access to such support in house. For screen companies, this is a rare opportunity to gain access to sought-after expertise in areas such as digital distribution, development, financing, international co-production, and business strategy.
The FOCUS Pilot was launched in 2017. Independent companies in Scotland working in TV, film and animation were invited to apply to take part, with applications made on a rolling basis via the Film City Futures website. The FOCUS Pilot process was split across two stages. In the first stage of the project, companies received support to create a Business Development Strategy which set out a plan for achieving business growth and extending the ambition for the company, including recommendations for the company to access further support in specific business areas.
Stage 2 involved putting the plan into action through consultation with industry experts with various specialisms. Areas of specialist support included distribution, international sales and co-production, development, finance, production, HR, book scouting and legal support. As of June 2020, 20 companies have received support through the FOCUS Pilot.
In 2019, a partnership between MG ALBA and FOCUS gave five BBC ALBA suppliers access to targeted business support which allowed them to maximise their international partnerships which are key to both their growth and to ensuring high value content for BBC ALBA. A total of £15k was allocated to the partnership, including £10k of consultancy costs, as well as overheads, with the cost of all support shared equally three ways between Creative Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and MG ALBA. 5 companies were selected to receive funding and support through the MG ALBA and FOCUS partnership.
FOCUS Bootcamp was a 3-day course created to equip new screen companies with the skills, knowledge and contacts that they need to grow and thrive. Each day included in-depth training sessions in particular areas of business management. There were also visits from key organisations such as Business Gateway, Screen Scotland, Pact, Triodos, Cosmic Cat, BBC and Channel 4, as well as conversational sessions with successful Scotland-based production companies who helped explain how to put the day’s training into action. 10 companies took part in FOCUS Bootcamp and are now part of the FOCUS cohort.
FOCUS BITES is an opportunity for all screen companies in Scotland to access one-to-one business development support for their company. Bite-sized consultancy sessions have been delivered in areas such as legal, finance and distribution. In addition to the main program, FOCUS provides access to expertise through events and workshops which are available to screen sector companies throughout Scotland. Previous events have focused on film tax relief, script development, co-production, business crisis management, and the digital commissioning landscape.