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21 March 2018

REVIEW: iFeatures Flagship Film Programme Returns


Now in its fifth iteration, iFeatures – Creative England’s flagship feature film programme – has opened for submissions once again and this year, its set to be bigger than ever before.

What better way for our members to spend their Friday evening, therefore, than listening to iFeatures exec Kate O’Hara discuss the latest launch of the scheme? To top it off, they were also lucky enough to be joined by Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly, producer of one of iFeature’s most prominent success stories, Lady Macbeth.

The development lab, run by Creative England in collaboration with BBC Films, BFI and Creative Skillset, supports emerging filmmakers through an unrivalled programme of residential workshops, story labs and expert mentoring. It has established itself firmly at the heart of the British indie film industry in recent years, involved with the development of a slate of projects which has latterly included the likes of critically-acclaimed features The Levelling and God’s Own Country.

It was clear from Kate’s session with WFTV, however, that this year iFeatures will be stepping things up a notch further. Where previously the scheme ran on an 18-month cycle, it will now operate annually; in addition, each of the 12 projects chosen will have access to the development lab for its full duration (whereas before there was a stage-by-stage ‘knockout’ process), giving a greater number of filmmakers the opportunity to benefit from the programme’s offerings moving forward.

“The BFI and the BBC have both said they’ll commit to a minimum of three of those films going into production. They’ll also help work out what the appropriate budget is for the film.”

Later in the evening, Kate was joined on stage by producer Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly to discuss the phenomenal success of her film Lady Macbeth, and the integral part that iFeatures played in getting it made.

“When we first started re-developing Lady Macbeth, we wrote a manifesto: even though it was a low budget film, we wanted it to feel like a respectful, collaborative and safe environment for everyone.”

Fodhla acknowledged how helpful it was to have the ‘stamp of approval’ branding provided by the BBC, Creative England and the BFI during the pre-production phase, noting how much easier it made attracting top quality cast and crew to the project. The producer also revealed that iFeatures dramatically sped up the development process for her and her team, saying that had they gone down ‘the more conventional route’, they’d probably still be in development.

If you have an exciting project or idea in the pipeline and you’re an emerging filmmaker, then this is an opportunity you can’t afford to miss! You can find out more about iFeatures, and information on how to apply, here.

The deadline for applications is 5pm on Wednesday 28th March 2018.

Written by Alice Kidd