When it comes to patriotic pride, the Brits are not considered to be a particularly proud nation. However, one thing they are proud of is the British film industry. From the gritty, as in Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting and Steve McQueen’s Hunger, to the heartwarming, as in Mike Newell’s Four Weddings and a Funeral, the Brits know how to make a fantastic film. Over the years British filmmakers have produced hundreds of critically-acclaimed feature films that have enjoyed worldwide success. And with forefathers such as the English-born Alfred Hitchcock, it’s no surprise that filmmaking remains one of the UK’s biggest creative exports and an integral part of British culture.
Beyond the raw talent of the filmmakers themselves, recognition is due to the governing bodies of the UK film industry, namely the British Film Institute (BFI). The BFI awards lottery funding to film production, distribution, education, audience development and market intelligence and research. Without such input many of the films we know and love would not have been made and there would be a huge dent in the UK’s cultural offerings. At the end of last year the government announced some good news for the UK film industry. In the Autumn Statement UK Chancellor George Osborne spoke about changing the film tax credit, boosting the VFX sector and allocating £5m for the National Film and Television School’s Digital Village. The Chancellor promised a ‘modernising’ of the UK tax film credit which looks to make the UK a far more attractive co-production partner as well as to boost the UK’s post-production sector. Changes made to tax credit include making relief available at 25% on the first £20 million of qualifying production expenditure and 20 % thereafter, for small and large budgets, subject to state aid clearance.
So what does this mean, I hear you ask? Well, firstly it will make the Film Tax Relief easier to use and more attractive. Secondly, it will eradicate the ‘cliff edge’ between the 20% and 25% schemes. It will also reduce the minimum UK expenditure requirement from 25% to 10% to encourage further investment in the UK, benefit visual effects and wider industry, support UK independent production and encourage minority co-producers where the UK spend is less that 25%. Furthermore, changes are being made to the cultural test, which will be expanded to allow for European as well as British Culture, in line with other creative content tax reliefs.
The tax cuts will see a greater number of international producers and directors flocking to make films in Britain. Notably, the change to the cultural test is expected to be of the biggest benefit to the special effects industry, allowing more film producers to qualify for tax relief, enticing them to farm out that much more work to UK firms.
After being asked for comment following Osborne’s announcement a BFI spokesman said: “It’s good news for film. The Government are clearly putting their weight behind film and see it as an area of growth – an industry that performs well both in terms of export and inward investment.”
The announcement is brilliant news not only for film producers, but also for us, the viewers. What this tax relief will mean is that more British films will be made – particularly independents – so, ultimately we’ll be spoilt with a more diverse offering of great films. I for one am looking forward to sitting back – whether it’s at the big screen or in my living room – ready to watch the next best UK film success….armed with popcorn, of course.