As with most other industries, the potential impact of Brexit on the UK film industry is still very uncertain, with much depending on the type of Brexit which the UK government decides to implement. We set out below some of the key threats and opportunities that Brexit may present for the UK film industry.
Loss of EU funding
Perhaps the biggest threat facing the UK film industry is the potential loss of EU film funding. The UK film industry benefits from a wide range of EU funding programmes, including the Creative Europe Programme and Media Programme. Any loss of EU funding could be very damaging to the UK film industry and the UK government is likely to face enormous pressure to replace it.
British content less attractive to European broadcasters
Some EU countries impose quotas on the amount of European content their TV broadcasters must show. In the past, such quotas have led to an increased demand for UK films and television shows. If the UK leaves the EU and therefore UK programming no longer counts towards these quotas then UK content may become less attractive to broadcasters in the future.
Restrictions on non-UK talent
The effect of Brexit on free movement of people will depend on the manner in which Britain exits the EU. If free movement of people is restricted after Brexit, then the imposition of additional visa requirements or work permits may deter producers from filming in the UK, because of the administrative headaches of having to apply for multiple visas for non-UK talent. Furthermore, non-UK talent such as actors, technicians and writers could be prevented from contributing to UK film productions.
Co Production Treaties
Co-productions between UK and EU countries are governed by the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production (ECCC). There is a question whether, post-Brexit, UK productions will continue to be classified as European productions, thereby enabling UK co-productions to be classified as a “European work”. It is generally expected that Brexit will not have an effect on the ECCC, which involves the Council of Europe, as opposed to the EU. Conversely, the UK’s current treaty with France may require to be renegotiated, as it is currently underpinned by EU legislation.
Rise in homegrown talent
The addition of visa requirements or work permits for non UK talent could lead to an increase in producers engaging UK talent, rather than bringing over whole teams of talent from overseas.
UK more cost effective
Films are primarily financed in dollars so if the Pound continues to lose its value, then films will become cheaper to shoot in the UK. As a result, the UK may become more attractive as a film location, due to the corresponding reduction in costs such as wages, equipment and location hire, accommodation etc.
UK Film Tax Relief
EU rules on state aid and distortion of competition currently prevent the UK from favouring British productions through UK film tax relief. Leaving the EU would allow the UK government to promote/encourage British productions by introducing more favourable tax credits. This could result in increased output from home grown filmmakers.
Brexit poses a whole host of uncertainties for the UK film industry. Whilst there may well be some immediate benefits to the industry, particularly as a result of the recent fall in the Pound’s value, the corresponding threats faced by the industry in the future have the potential to reverse its recent growth.