BFI launches filmmaking database with information on funding, genre, roles and filmmakers

The British Film Institute has just launched its BFI Filmography, a database of over 10,000 UK films from 1911 to the present day.

It has revealed some troubling data about the lack of diversity in UK film with data showing that only seven percent of films since 2000 have had a majority female crew.

However, the database also works as a great resource for aspiring filmmakers. Part of being an amateur filmmaker is understanding trends in the UK market and how to make them work for you.

BFI Creative Director Heather Stewart said: “At a time when the UK film industry is burgeoning, the BFI Filmography is an invaluable resource for anyone with an interest in film, providing evidence that can help inform policy, the future of the industry and its workforce.”

The Video Mode has rounded up some ways filmmakers can use the new BFI database to help them in their own careers.


BFI Filmography: Choose a popular genre

Credit: BFI          The database has categorised over 10,000 UK films from 1911 to the present day

When deciding what film genre you want your next short film or feature to be, it is a good idea to work out what is popular.

Drama is the most popular genre of film with 3,710 UK films since 1911, followed by comedy and crime with 2,347 and 1,495, respectively.

In the past ten years this has mostly stayed constant but with more emerging popularity in the genres of documentaries and thrillers, with 263 and 204 respectively since 2007. It’s a good idea to play around this a bit to work out where your desired genre sits on the popularity spectrum.


BFI Filmography: Avoid clichés

This may seem like contradictory advice after just telling you to follow trends but it is important to find your niche when you begin making your film.

Research by the BFI shows that the popular characters in cinema are Queen Victoria and Sherlock Holmes while the most common word in film titles is ‘man.’

But, this is not only about avoiding using the most overused characters and titles, but also to think about finding the best way to make original content.

Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce in Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon – Sherlock Holmes is one of the most used characters in UK film.


BFI Filmography: Where is the funding?

As any aspiring filmmaker will know, funding is one of the most essential parts of the filmmaking process. But it can sometimes be hard to know where to focus your attention.

While the database doesn’t give detailed information on this, it does show you some interesting facts about growing use of co-production in British films.

In the last ten years the stats show that 59% of UK films were intentional co-productions compared to the 41% which were UK only. This reflects the wider shift in the industry but, perhaps more interestingly, the database shows you where most of this funding came from. The most co-production was with the USA with 630 films, with France co-producing 187 films.

These statistics could be interesting when thinking about where to focus your funding efforts.


To find out more and explore the database yourself, check out the website here.