locked box

Do you have money in the ‘locked box’?

In March 2015, WGGB, Pact and Directors UK agreed an historic revenue-sharing deal, to incentivise the creative teams behind successful British films and give them more ability to start their own projects. This deal – known as the ‘locked box’ – is applicable to films part-funded by the BFI Lottery fund.

Up to a 37.5% share of BFI’s recouped income from these film productions is put into a locked box, where it is held by the BFI and available to be drawn down for developing and producing future film projects – ensuring revenue from successful BFI-backed films is invested directly back into the British film industry, and enabling those responsible for the film’s success to create more film projects.

This money is available to the creative team, with minimum shares of 12.5% each to the writer and director (and more by agreement). The writer and director can individually access this money to fund development of further projects – with or without the other film-makers involved in the first production.

So far there is around £100,000 in the locked box earmarked for writers, and the same for directors.

If you have written (or directed) a film that qualifies for the scheme you should have received a BFI locked box contract, via your producer, when your film went into production.

If you think your film should qualify but you have not received this, please ask your producer to send you the contract and discuss your share with your agent. The scheme covers films greenlit and distributed from March 2015 onwards and it is likely that some films at the start of this scheme were contracted before the locked box agreement was in place. The minimums stipulated in the agreement still apply and you should still be able to negotiate for more.

Your BFI contract will tell you how to access the monies you have earned and how you can spend them (including on options and script fees).

To be eligible for the scheme you have to be a UK national or resident.

Here is a fictional example of how your locked box share would be calculated.

Writer writes a screenplay for A Very British Film, directed by Director. Producer receives production funding of £125,000 from the BFI in July 2015. On release A Very British Film recoups money to repay the BFI funding. The recoupment corridor is therefore £46,875 (37.5% of total possible recoupment) of which Writer and Director are eligible to receive a minimum of £5,859.37 (12.5% of 37.5% of £125k) each. Producer also receives this amount and the 62.5% residue of £29,297k is divided according to negotiation between Producer, Director and Writer. Writer uses her share to pay herself for development of a new screenplay. Director uses her share to pay for the option on a book she wants to develop.

For more details on the locked box agreement, how the money is collected, divided and can be spent, please see the BFI fact sheet.

Photo: Shutterstock.com/vvoe