Brexit has the potential to enhance London’s status as one of the world’s leading centres for film and high-end TV production according to the head of the capital’s film commission.
Having hosted a run of big name films in recent years, including Bridget Jones’ Baby, London Has Fallen and Thor: The Dark World, London is now the third busiest city for film production after Los Angeles and New York and last year secured around £1.2 billion of inward investment.
In addition to offering a rich mix of architectures and locations, the city also hosts some of the world’s major production facilities and post-production houses and benefits from the UK’s regime of tax credits which provide financial support for productions using UK talent.
Filmmakers such as Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige have previously cited the tax credits scheme, which was recently extended to high-end TV productions, as a major factor in deciding to base productions in the UK.
Speaking to SEENIT on Tuesday, Adrian Wootton, CEO of Film London, said the UK’s departure from the European Union meant it would be free from rules on state aid, allowing ministers to extend and revise the scheme to secure the UK’s lead over other non-US film hubs.
“The tax credit is based on certain European regulations and the government has the opportunity to review that going forward in 2019,” he said.
Any extension of the scheme could help generate and secure thousands of vital jobs and support the government’s work to ensure UK economy’s competitiveness.
Wootton, who is also Chair of the British Film Commission, added that after an initial “period of mourning” in some parts of the creative industries, many were now seeing a positive impact from last year’s vote and said the fall in the pound’s strength had “already turned into an opportunity” by generating “even greater demand” for studio space and post-production work.
He also played down suggestions that UK broadcasters’ desire to achieve greater regional diversity in their output could see London losing out.
“There is a demographic democratisation of where people are shooting around the UK – and I think that’s a good thing – but that isn’t leading to a decline in what’s happening here. We’ve still got massive amounts of demand, all our studios are packed.”
Asked whether the rise of streaming services offered more opportunities for the UK, Wootton said “Netflix and Amazon are massive. If you look at The Crown, that’s potentially 50 episodes over five years.
“We’ve already had massive success with cable companies – the HBOs of this world who’ve done a lot in Northern Ireland with Game of Thrones and you’ve got The Royals filming at Three Mills – and Netflix and Amazon just want to make more and more things here.
“Whereas with some domestic US broadcasters we had to do a little more work to persuade them to come, that isn’t true of the platforms that are making so much content.
“They can see the advantages, they can see the tax credits, they can see the skills base.”