iFeatures 8 Minutes IdleCreative England, the British Film Institute, BBC Films and Skillset are partnering on the second go-round of iFeatures, a low-budget film initiative for indie filmmakers in the UK. The program provides development and production support for three features budgeted at £350,000 that will be shot in England. The last iFeatures round included just-completed romantic comedy 8 Minutes Idle, starring Ophelia Lovibond, Tom Hughes and Antonia Thomas; and the Helen McCrory-starrer Flying Blind, which is currently in post. ContentFilm is handling sales on both while the BBC will pre-buy free-TV rights to the next three films to go through the scheme. Submissions are open for iFeatures² through May 3. Here’s the release:

iFeaturesiFeatures, the UK’s most exciting low budget feature film initiative, re-opens for submissions today, with new partners and an enhanced offer to the brightest upcoming filmmaking talent.

Creative England is leading the expansion of the original Bristol-based venture by joining with BFI Film Fund and BBC Films to support the development and production of a further three full-length features, all to be set within the English regions.

The BBC is also pre-buying UK Free TV rights to the completed films.

Open to writer, director and producer teams who can already demonstrate a strong body of work, each film will be produced on a budget of £350,000. They will be greenlit from a slate of 16 projects, which the partners will help steer through an intensive six-month creative and commercial development process, starting in July 2012.

Skillset’s Film Skills Fund is once again providing support for an integrated programme of professional development for all filmmakers involved in the initiative. This will include workshops, high-level industry mentoring and shadowing opportunities as well as guidance around sales, distribution and online marketing.

In the best traditions of some of the most recent low budget successes such as Weekend, Archipelago and Monsters, iFeatures2 is looking for distinctive, authored work that has both national and international breakout potential.

To help prospective applicants hone their proposals, the iFeatures team will be hosting events in Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Brighton, Cambridge, Nottingham and Leeds in the run up to the submissions deadline of Thursday, May 3. These can be booked through the iFeatures2 website (www.ifeatures2.co.uk) which also contains a wealth of information on the initiative.

The launch of iFeatures2 comes as a positive buzz builds around the final two films commissioned in the last round – the recently completed bittersweet romantic comedy 8 Minutes Idle, starring Tom Hughes, Ophelia Lovibond, Antonia Thomas and Montserrat Lombard, and the Helen McCrory-starrer Flying Blind which is currently in post-production and being readied for a Cannes 2012 market launch. In the Dark Half, the first film out of the gate, premiered at last year’s Raindance. All three films are represented by ContentFilm International.

iFeatures2 Executive Producer Tristan Goligher said: “More than ever low budget film making has the potential to craft imaginative stories that can reach out to people across the globe. iFeatures2 aims to collaborate with the most exciting film makers to support their films, from conception to exhibition.”

Chris Moll, Head of Talent at Creative England and architect of iFeatures, said: “iFeatures2 is a flagship project for Creative England and demonstrates our proactive approach to nurturing the very best talent and stories in the English regions. Our partnership with BFI, BBC Films and Skillset is underpinned by a shared commitment to excellence and a belief that ambitious stories well told, no matter what the restrictions of budget, can deliver a significant cultural and financial return.”

Chris Collins, Senior Executive, BFI Film Fund, said: “The BFI is pleased to partner on this new iteration of iFeatures. We look forward to working with Creative England and BBC Films to support filmmakers across England to tell regional stories that are engaging and entertaining.”

Steve Jenkins, Head of Films for BBC Programme Acquisitions, said: “The BBC is delighted to be a part of iFeatures2. We are sure that the scheme will once again deliver quality productions, whilst providing hugely valuable opportunities for all involved.”

Christine Langan, Head of BBC Films, said: “The first scheme was a highly effective way of developing new talent in the South West; it is especially exciting to widen the net to include filmmakers from the rest of the English regions.”

Dan Simmons, Acting Head of Film at Skillset, said: “Developing Creative Talent continues to be a funding priority for Skillset under the UK’s film skills strategy A Bigger Future 2, and we are delighted to be supporting this second edition of iFeatures. Training linked to low budget feature film schemes provides the rare opportunity for emerging talent to hone their skills and work as a creative team on a live feature-length project, whilst gaining top industry guidance. The quality of the films produced and the success of iFeatures participants from last year are testimony to the high standard of training and production values iFeatures has facilitated.”