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U.K. Film, TV Industry Players React to ‘Seismic’ Brexit Decision

British voters’ stunning decision to turn their backs on the European Union has left many of the country’s leading TV and film players reeling. Here, some of them reflect on the new, uncertain situation Britain now finds itself in and how it might affect the industry.

Jane Tranter’s production company Bad Wolf has a first-look deal with HBO, and is producing BBC-New Line TV series “His Dark Materials.” Previously, as a BBC senior executive, her credits included “Doctor Who” and “Da Vinci’s Demons”:

“The news is bleak. Like many I am embarrassed and ashamed of how our politicians, on all sides and all parties, have handled this referendum.

“From a practical and cultural point of view, the U.K. television industry is today steeling itself to working with Europe from a position of isolation and unknown financial future and regulation. From a creative point of view, I hope that our writers and dramatists will be given the opportunity to help audiences make sense of what has happened and help us all find healing, tolerance and hope in a way that those who govern us seemingly cannot.”

Danny Perkins, CEO of distribution and production company Studiocanal U.K.:

“In terms of the film industry, there is a very immediate short-term effect in terms of currency in that most [movie-acquisition] deals are done in dollars, and a lot of European film deals are done in euros. That’s going to mean that the ability to pay, for the U.K. companies, is going to be affected quite dramatically, so that is going to hurt companies. And also, the ability to deliver revenues on international films is going to be affected.

“The fact that the U.K. won’t have a seat at the table for any discussion on the E.U.’s Digital Single Market [strategy] is going to have a big effect on the independent sector. The freedom of movement between [countries] for production and distribution staff is also going to be affected, and the fact that we won’t be part of [E.U. funding organization] the Media Program will have a big effect. So there are seismic changes ahead for the independent sector.

“From a Studiocanal point of view, we are fortunate in that we are part of Vivendi, who are a big international group; we have a footprint that is global — across Europe and now in Australia. For the bigger companies, it is easier to manage this change in that the way that we finance and exploit our films we have the mechanics to deliver upon that, but for the independent sector it is a huge change.”

Stephen Woolley, co-head of Number 9 Films, which produced “Carol,” “Made in Dagenham” and “Breakfast on Pluto”:

“It’s hard to be anything but devastated today. Not for us as producers and filmmakers much but for the generation of young people entering the world and industry we have tried to create. I feel like we have failed them creatively, economically and politically. It’s a sad day for all of us and we can only blame ourselves. History will damn our generation for our lack of care foresight and humanity.

“We should be embracing our European partners in the struggle to create, not creating more barriers and borders and eventually making us all prisoners. As I said: devastated.”

Elizabeth Karlsen, co-head of Number 9 Films:

“The ‘Leave’ vote is devastating. The referendum was called by a Tory [Conservative Party] ego-driven politician in contest with another Tory ego-driven politician with little regard for the fallout. Politicians who were once figures of ridicule, Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson, are now spokesmen for the nation and, as of this morning, seeming future leaders of our country….

“Our country is now being praised by the likes of Putin, Le Pen and Trump. Seventy-five percent of under-25s voted to remain – shame on the aging population for depriving a generation of hope and expectation. The stage bears too many similarities to Germany between the wars for comfort.”

Stephen Garrett is an exec producer on BBC-AMC spy thriller “The Night Manager.” His production company Character Seven is developing London-set supernatural series “The Rook” for Hulu with “Twilight” author Stephenie Meyer’s production company Fickle Fish and Lionsgate.

“The only certainty was with ‘Remain’ because then the status quo would prevail. With Brexit, frankly, it is all up in the air. I suspect there will be a mixture of good and bad….

“Uncertainty is bad in that all of us,…whether we are making TV, drama or movies, are planning a long way ahead. It is process that takes a long time. You are often building relationships predicated on understandings about how legislation works, about how tax breaks work, and, to the extent that this result just throws any of those certainties up into the air, it can’t be good for people trying to put together productions that have any European component….

“Europe needs the relationships with British producers and financiers as much tomorrow as it did yesterday. So, from an internal industry point of view, I’m sure there’ll be a desire on both sides to try to ensure that the status quo prevails. It doesn’t make any sense suddenly for that market to disappear or for it to become more difficult to do business.”

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