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Film Tax Credits – Do Independents need more?

A `David and Goliath` scenario?

1 Nov 2022

At Film London’s recent Production Finance Market, Ben Roberts, CEO of the British Film Institute observed that film production in the UK was beginning to take on a `David and Goliath` scenario.

On the one hand, the Film and TV sector overall is booming. The UK with its offering of highly skilled crews, great locations and a weak pound alongside a well-established professional service sector providing banking, finance, insurance, legal and accounting services, is attractive to producers from all around the world. Major streamers and studios including Disney, Warners, Netflix and Amazon already appreciate all that the UK has to offer. And of course, the transparent and favourable UK Tax Credit 25% of 80% of eligible costs consumed in the UK is a huge incentive to these guys.

However, it is worrying that UK Independent Producers are beginning to struggle and it has become difficult to get smaller budgeted films made.  There are a number of reasons for this. Logistically, due to the high demands of the major studios and streamers hiring skilled crew and finding studio space is a challenge. Sadly, cinema attendance has not reached pre-pandemic levels; although affecting all productions whatever their size, this is a particular blow to smaller productions. Theatrical runs at small venues or chains not only bring in revenue, but also gets a production out into the world and generates interest by word of mouth. A further problem is the tendency for studios and streamers to commission projects directly. And on top of this the level of Lottery Funding for the independent sector has been further reduced.

So, what can be done to help Independent Producers? Ben Roberts came up with two strategies to consider; to increase the Film Tax Credit rate for productions (below say £5m/£10m) and to apply zero rate VAT to cinema ticket prices for independent films.

Both of the above proposals would be a great help to UK independent film making. The BFI proposals have I believe been suggested and are currently being discussed with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The UK government has been a great supporter of the media sector and has indeed reaped the economic benefits. I very much hope support will be forthcoming to preserve this great legacy in our cultural world.

If you require any assistance with your film tax credit claim, please do contact us.

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