Local industry contributes $6.7 bn to GDP

LONDON — Amid fears of further future cuts to the U.K. Film Council, the funding body has issued a report outlining the significant impact Brit pics have on the wider economy in a bid to keep the current model stable.

“The Economic Impact of the U.K. Film Industry” – commissioned by the U.K. Film Council, Pinewood Shepperton and post-production companies Framestore, Cinesite and Double Negative – found that the Brit pic industry contributes £4.6 billion ($6.7 billion) to gross domestic product and more than £1.2 billion ($1.75 billion) to the British Exchequer per year.

Findings in the report, published by Oxford Economics, also found that the U.K. film industry is “weathering the recession well” and Blighty’s 20% tax credit is “vital” to sustaining current levels of global competitiveness and job creation.

It pointed out that the U.K. film industry directly employs around 36,000 people (up 7% since 2006) and that a film can expect its box office to be up to 30% higher if it is indigenous to the U.K.

John Woodward, UKFC’s chief executive, notes that while the report “paints a very good picture” of Blighty’s film industry, it is not meant to insinuate that the industry is panicked about the future.

“I don’t think anyone in the British film industry is paranoid,” he said. “What we do understand is that the new government is going to weigh everything carefully and there seems to be a very high degree of support for the film industry.”

He adds: “But we are facing difficult times.”

Independent producer Mike Downey, of Film and Music Entertainment, said that while the findings are “inspiring,” they were not entirely representative of the current climate.

“The British independent production sector, by comparison to the overall numbers, is very much in the doldrums,” he said. “According to another recent UKFC report, over half of the independent production companies are loss making, despite their films being amongst the most popular with their audiences.”

Downey, who has produced films such as “White Lightnin’” and “Bathory,” said this is because the current funding model “ensures producers cannot retain their intellectual property rights and thus have little to invest, or leverage in negotiations.”

He, like a vast majority of Blighty’s indie producers, are lobbying public bodies for more ownership of their projects, rather than having rights remain with the U.K. Film Council or the regional funder or broadcaster that put up the coin.

And “The Last Station” producer Chris Curling, of Zephyr Films, added: “The challenge as a producer is to make anything that we’re doing one of those ‘must haves.’ We can’t do this without a good tax credit and support from the government.”

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