22 Mar 2021 3:10 PM

Those of a certain age will remember the rousing speech of Colin Welland at the 1982 Oscars; having just accepted the award for best original screenplay for ‘Chariots of Fire’, he waved his Oscar above his head and declared to Hollywood: “The British are Coming!”

Chariots of Fire has, in my opinion, kept its charm and poignancy and has not dated. Word to the wise – as lockdown eases, go to the coast, put your running shoes on and go for a jog or run along the sea’s edge. Put Vangelis on your listening device and you too will be an Olympic champion.  Oh, to dream!

Anyway, the British are back on the march.  Nominations for this year’s Oscars are packed with British contenders.  Emerald Fennell leads the way with three nominations for direction, production and the writing of ‘Promising Young Woman.’  Her nomination for Director makes her only the sixth woman to receive this accolade; Kathryn Bigelow being the only woman to win the award (for ‘The Hurt Locker’).

The star of Promising Young Woman, Carey Mulligan is nominated for Best Actress.  Fellow Britons Daniel Kaluuya, Sacha Baron Cohen and Olivia Colman are shortlisted in the best supporting categories while Sir Anthony Hopkins (in ‘The Father’) and Gary Oldman (in ‘Mank’) are in contention – again – for Best Actor.

Overall, this is a fantastic achievement and an endorsement of the success of the UK Film Industry.  Back in 1982 Welland expressed his despair about the lack of investment in British cinema.  That is no longer the case today. Alongside an invasion from the major studios and streamers including Disney, Warners, Amazon and Netflix, the government’s Film Tax Credit has encouraged a huge increase in the appetite to invest in British cinema. 

The ballpark 20% refund on UK spend (25% x 80% of UK eligible production costs) does not always initially appear as rosy as other territories’ tax credits but, the UK Tax Credit is for pre-production, production AND post production spend. AND the refund is given as a ‘cheque’ into the hand of the Producer.

The refund is claimed when the financial statements and Corporation Tax Return are submitted to HMRC.  In order to claim a film tax credit, the production costs must be passed through a limited liability company.  The refund is paid out from HMRC to the producer within eight weeks on average.  Knowing this is coming, allows producers to obtain a loan from a bank or investor to fund costs in the meantime, should there be any cash flow restraints.

Looking at the current activity and accolades being handed out to British cinema, I would hazard a guess that Mr Welland will have a smile on his face looking down today.