So we knew Cartoon Movie wasn’t our jam, but a lot of people there suggested we contact the BFI Film Fund as our next step. As a pretty monumental force in British filmmaking scooping up the BAFTA noms, this sounded like a good plan, so we gave them a ring to chat through the Film Fund: Development Fund. We got a bit of advice, but they said the main thing to do was get a proposal in, and then we could go from there.
There was a lot to fill in, so we started forging through the questions, doing lots of additional research to back everything up. It was an exciting process, we were learning more about both the project and the industry as a whole every day. We really honed in on our pitch – the what, why and how. As a team we’ve never been very good at the bigging ourselves up, but we knew this project was packed full of passion, originality and flair, so we allowed our pitch to reflect this. Requiring a creative and a strategic proposal, we broke our application down into the idea, creative, motive, method, vision, audience, viability, appeal, strategy, and an overview of us as disruptive filmmakers. The guidelines were really helpful and we’d recommend it as a process to go through, whatever the outcome. By the time we submitted our application we were really pleased with what we had put together and what we had learnt along the way.
Not long after our submission, we received an email requesting further materials – exciting stuff! We sent our treatment, 2nd draft opening script, script writer writing example, and information of our Artella crew and their work so far (concept art, storyboards etc).
A few weeks later, we received the following:
I’m writing from the editorial team at the BFI Film Fund. Thanks for bearing with us while we looked at the materials on BACK FROM THE DEAD RED and talked it all through.
We’ve come to a decision now and in the end I’m afraid we’ve decided not to move forward with the project. The themes you’re exploring are exactly the sort of thing we want to see more of but, as I’m sure you know, the challenges of mounting an independent animation out of the UK and aiming at that younger adult audience are really substantial.
What that means is that we need to feel really overwhelmed by the pitch for the film and convinced it has what it takes to hit that target successfully. Unfortunately that wasn’t quite the case in the end, in spite of what was clearly a passionate and carefully thought through application.
Sorry to bring disappointing news. I know it’s an obvious thing to say but competition for our funding really is incredibly high, so we have to say no much more than we’re able to say yes.
We’d all like you to wish you all the very best of luck with pushing the project forward.
But – ok – what can we take from this?
The themes were good – we were pushing diversity and telling stories rarely told on the silver screen, but it is the risky nature of our audience that leads to problems – cut to the same advice form Cartoon Movie. And sure, creating animated features in the UK is no small undertaking, but we knew this when we started, and we felt that this is the bit that we know how to do. So how can we guarantee we can find this audience? We were confident in terms of story, characters and style that we were on track, but what about the business side of things? Are we looking at distribution in the correct way?
If we are looking to disrupt, push the envelope and do things a little differently, why are we looking at funding and distribution in the conventional way?
And so another seemingly disappointing result pushed us closer in the direction of what is was we wanted and needed for this project. It was a couple of weeks later that a suggestion from Mike flung us into the next stages of our adventure.