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Film Tax Credits – Helping Independent Producers

What can be done to help independent producers?

19 Feb 2024

By Ian Gibbon

Ben Roberts, CEO of the British Film Institute commented at the Production Film Market this month 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. Highly skilled crews, great locations, a weak pound and a reputable well established service sector providing banking, finance, insurance, legal and accounting services means producers from around the world gravitate to the UK; including the major streamers and studios Disney, Warners, Netflix and Amazon. And of course, the transparent and favorable UK Tax Credit 25% of 80% of eligible costs consumed in the UK is a huge incentive for the sector.

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 several factors for this. Logistically, due to the high demands of the major studios and streamers it’s a challenge to hire skilled crew and/or find studio space. Sadly, post covid cinema attendance has not reverted to pre-pandemic levels. This affects all productions whatever their size, but it is a particular blow to smaller productions whereby theatrical runs at small venues or chains not only bring in revenue but get the production out into the world where interest may often pick up on word of mouth. A further problem is the tendency for studios and streamers to commission projects direct. And on top of this Lottery Funding is much reduced compared to previously for the independent sector.

So, what can be done to help independent producers?

Ben Roberts highlighted two strategies:

  • increase the Film Tax Credit rate for productions below say £5m/£10m and/or
  • apply zero rate VAT to cinema ticket prices for independent films

Both would be a great help.

The BFI proposals have I believe been suggested and are currently under discussion with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The UK government has been a great supporter of the media sector and has reaped the economic benefits.

I very much hope support will be forthcoming to preserve a great legacy in our cultural world.

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