Some of the world’s greatest directors started their careers with an idea, a few thousand pounds and a few friends with free time. These same friends often made up the bulk of the audience.
But Netflix is giving Britain’s next big star a chance to show her feature debut to the most viewers the world has ever amassed – and giving them a seven-figure sum to make it happen.
An unknown director, producer or writer will receive £1.5million and a global launch on the streaming service, with the aim of discovering a future generation of “bold and distinctive” British storytellers.
The program, to be announced on Wednesday, will allow directors to do anything from crime thrillers and sci-fi to romance and comedy, guided by the principle that making “bold” films can ” result in commercial success as well as critical and can come from all walks of life.
At least one project will be selected from six shortlisted filmmakers, who will each have received £30,000 to develop their projects over a year, with intensive training from industry mentors.
Netflix will accept applications from across the creative spectrum – theater, television, video games, online content, commercials, graphic novels, music promotions and short films.
The program, titled Breakout, will be open to filmmakers who have yet to direct a feature film but whose work has already attracted industry or public attention.
One of the biggest challenges for any filmmaker, especially first-timers, is raising money for their film.
Hannah Perks, head of UK films at Netflix, said the £1.5m budget would allow them to focus on the creative side. “They won’t have to think about raising that funding – and their movie will stream on Netflix worldwide. It’s every filmmaker’s dream to have a worldwide release.
Breakout will proactively encourage submissions from underrepresented groups to reflect the full range of voices in modern Britain.
Perks has distinguished himself for rave productions such as His House, an acclaimed horror film about the plight of Sudanese refugees in a creepy council house, a feature debut from British writer-director Remi Weekes, who previously directed short films and commercials.
She said: “Although these are new talents, these are people who are filmmakers, but who may have also worked in advertising, music videos or photography, and who don’t haven’t had a chance to make a feature film but have some ideas. It’s about giving them a really healthy budget to do something that can be on Netflix and hopefully launch their careers as filmmakers – in especially British filmmakers, making commercial films that our audiences love.
“We don’t have as many British films as we would like on the service. This is one of the main reasons we do this. We want to attract more British filmmakers, up-and-coming filmmakers.
The program is a collaboration with Creative UK, which supports the creative industries. Paul Ashton, its Head of Film and TV, said: “The talent is everywhere but the opportunities are not, and from our very first conversation it was clear that Netflix shared our desire to provide opportunities for change. career path to film talent in the UK.”
Netflix, which streams in more than 30 languages and 190 countries, is the UK’s most popular streaming service, with around 14 million subscribers at the end of last year. Last September, it announced it would be offering training opportunities on its UK-based productions, including Sex Education, The Witcher and Top Boy.