Should I stay (or should I go)?

GBCT News / Tim Potter

Should I stay (or should I go)?

GBCT News / Tim Potter

With the vote to leave the European Union, a lot of things in our industry are now in flux, to say the least. Many co-productions are negotiated and financed from across Europe. Tax incentives are up for grabs for politicians wishing to either use the money for other pet projects or for even increasing the encouragement for films to come to the UK.

Will we be able to nip over to Hungary to work on picture, like we have been able to? What will happen to the money that comes into our industry from the EU at present? Will the pan-European licensing process that is due to come into force in the near future effect us? Will our more venal politicians tear down the laws that offer some (albeit small) protection to the workforce? What can we do to protect ourselves?

Over the next few years, as the Brexiteers work out how our world will look in the future, the government and the department that looks after our neck of the woods (I don’t want to name it as things are changing very fast and it might have a different name by the time you are reading this) will need to be advised by the industry if they are to make the right decisions for us and negotiate a deal that will not cause damage. At present the government is passing the buck to the British Film Institute, BFI, to gather the evidence and policy ideas. The BFI in turn is consulting the movers and shakers of the film and television world.

The current tax incentives for the UK are working well to bring both films and quality television to our shores. With the possible removal of restrictions on government aid it could lead to the temptation to increase the incentive, but this would probably cause other governments to follow suit. The forces that would cause a move upward or downwards are finely balanced, which means the prospects are, therefore, that there will be no change in the immediate future.

There are many EU funds which some filmmakers are able to tap into. It is likely that these will not be available after an exit unless the exit deal is very close to still being an EU country. Any deal that was that close to what we are leaving would raise the prospects of the hard-line exiters rejecting the deal and putting us further away from EU than any but the most xenophobic would want. At present, the UK has been out of Eurimage for some years, but a country does not have to be in the EU to be a member. It would be a great irony if leaving the EU was the trigger for re-joining it.

The prospect of borders going back up over Europe is not a pretty sight. Needing work permits to cross the channel would seriously hamper many productions, and anyone who remembers the pain of dealing with the Carnet de Passage system will shudder at the prospect of its return.

Until an exit deal is in place, all of these issues will be just point of conjecture. It is now the time to start lobbying for what we would like to see in this new and complex world.

Tim Potter
Chair
GBCT