Verve Pictures gets BFI backing for first feature scheme

UK distributor Verve Pictures is launching a non-profit first feature distribution support scheme that will back six debuts over the next 12 months.

The company has received a £135,000 award from the BFI Audience Fund to back the project, which has selected the first two features that will benefit – Bill Buckhurst’s Pond Life, which Verve has taken UK rights to, and Toby MacDonald’s Old Boys, which the company is now working on a deal for. Four more films will be selected over the course of the next year.

The BFI money will contribute to P&A budget and will cover overhead costs associated with releasing the titles. Instead of placing a minimum guarantee, Verve will recoup its own P&A investment from each release, with any further profits going back to the original rights holders.

Verve hopes the initiative will help titles that would typically receive minimal backing, and struggle to find audiences, stand out more in a crowded marketplace.

The BFI’s head of UK audiences Ben Luxford said the money would be used “to address a key industry concern in an exciting and innovative way”.