The Independent Film Trust (IFT), is a UK-registered charity (Charity Commission number 1105749), which promotes the cause of independent film-making by various means. Its patrons include Sir Alan Parker, Mike Leigh, Samantha Morton and Tim Roth. Its chairman is Neil McCartney, the UK-born producer, consultant, journalist and entrepreneur.
The organisation supports initiatives that encourage interest in the production and viewing of independent films and help emerging film-makers to develop and express themselves. Its activities include the provision of assistance (such as scholarships) to those who have shown film-making talent but would benefit from help in career development, the screening of high-quality films which have not had an opportunity to reach the audiences they deserve, and the organisation of basic production courses for disadvantaged people who might otherwise not get the chance.
However, it is does not fund the development or production of individual films.
The IFT’s partners on its film-making courses include Westminster Mind, the mental health charity, and The Hampton project, a Tooting-based initiative for young people who have been excluded from the mainstream education system because they have committed offences or are thought to be at risk of doing so. Most recently, it has worked with Pursuing Independent Paths, a charity which works with adults with learning difficulties, and The Link primary school for 7-11 year olds with similar problems.
In September 2010 a film made on one of these courses (Night Music, a 12-minute animation by Paul Jacques) was selected for inclusion in the Shorts programme of the Raindance Film Festival the following month.
In 2011 the IFT joined with Staffordshire University and the Raindance film-making organisation (which runs year-round film-making courses as well as the annual Raindance Film Festival) to set up a masters programme which leads to an MA or MSc in Film by Negotiated Learning. Raindance/IFT was the first outside body to be validated by the university to deliver such a course, having been approved in August 2012 as a franchise partner.
The creation of an online version of the programme, which was launched in October 2012, makes it available to students based anywhere in the world so long as they have access to a broadband internet connection. In theory a student could progress all the way to a masters degree without ever attending a designated physical location or actually meeting any of their tutors. That is, provided that they had handed in work and projects that met the assignment guidelines and postgraduate requirements (and kept up-to-date on fees). The programme is highly flexible and allows the students to choose their own modules, and design and deliver them through self-directed learning.
The IFT also works with other film groups, such as the British Independent Film Awards (which IFT chairman Neil McCartney helped to found in June 1998) to find and showcase the best in independent film, to promote innovation and to celebrate the vitality and diversity of the sector.