A new initiative has been launched for Scotland's screen sector, providing expert sector-specific business support to 20 screen production companies to encourage them to grow and expand.
FOCUS is a two-year pilot project developed to address current market conditions in the screen industry in Scotland. Many screen production businesses operating in Scotland are not of the scale where certain business development and support functions can be afforded in-house. This has had an impact on the ability on those businesses to grow, increase output, and remain sustainable.
FOCUS addresses this by providing subsidised access to specialist business development services. In the initial pilot phase, 20 participating screen companies will each work with a business development consultant to create a bespoke Business Development Strategy for their company, before moving on to access the sector-specific expertise identified in the strategy.
Participating companies will contribute one third of the costs of the consultancy themselves, with the remaining costs covered by FOCUS, which is co-funded by Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise.
For screen companies, this will mean a rare opportunity to gain access to sought-after expertise in areas such as digital distribution, aggregation, financing, international co-production, and audience development.
Consultants will be matched to companies on a case-by-case basis, according to the needs identified. Applications are open until 14 August for Scottish-based companies who meet the criteria.
Rebecca Thompson and Susie Wright from Film City Futures
FOCUS is delivered by Film City Futures in partnership with Scottish Documentary Institute. The project is managed by Business Development Manager Rebecca Thompson, who previously created film audience development and crowdfunding consultancy Hot Tap Media, and the film crowdfunding and distribution platform Social Screen. Business Development Executive Susie Wrightpreviously worked as Nations and Regions Executive at Channel 4, and Development Producer at STV Productions and IWC Media.
Tiernan Kelly, Director, Film City Glasgow Ltd, says: “FOCUS is a direct and considered response to the needs of indigenous screen production companies. The project will address the issues of scale and access to expertise that many of these companies face, and create a generation of ambitious, international facing screen businesses producing content from Scotland. The project presents clear evidence of industry collaboration with our enterprise and cultural agencies on a shared vision for the sector.”
Noe Mendelle, Director, Scottish Documentary Institute, says: “I am delighted that documentary producers will have a unique opportunity to enhance and develop their business skills at a time when the success of new platforms is challenging the traditional funding route and requiring new strategies from producers.”
John Archer, Director, Hopscotch Films, and board member of Film City Futures, says: “This innovative project brings together the skills and funding of both Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise with independent producers. With the new BBC Scottish channel 15 months or so away the timing of this great opportunity is brilliant.”
FOCUS is co-funded by Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise. Each organisation has allocated funding of £250,000 towards delivery of the project, with participating companies expected to contribute a further £250,000, creating a potential £750,000 of total project funding.
Natalie Usher, Director, Screen at Creative Scotland, says: “We are proud to be supporting FOCUS, alongside our partner, Scottish Enterprise. Providing such specialist business development support and advice to Scotland’s screen production companies will contribute significantly towards growth in the sector. FOCUS marks the next in a series of steps taken with the sector and agency partners, towards generating the conditions necessary to create a vibrant, culturally diverse and commercially-competitive screen sector in Scotland.”
David Smith, Sector Director of Digital and Engineering at Scottish Enterprise, says: “We are very pleased that we have been able to develop this pilot project in partnership with Creative Scotland, Scotland’s lead screen agency, and screen industry members. This has resulted in an innovative approach which will connect screen production companies to sources of expert advice and support to help drive up levels of international trade and innovation to help companies achieve their full potential.”
FOCUS now seeks ambitious screen production companies in Scotland who wish to invest in their future success. Applications are now open on the Film City Futures website, where companies can find out more about the project, register to attend an information session in Glasgow or Edinburgh, and apply to be one of the first to benefit.
Applications close on 14 August 2017, with the first participants selected by the end of August.