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Brexit Won’t Have ‘Significant Effect’ on British Film Biz, U.K. Official Says (EXCLUSIVE)

Britain’s minister for the digital and creative industries said Friday that Brexit would not have a significant impact on the local film industry and that the U.K. would remain a desirable destination for filmmakers.

“I don’t want to be complacent, but I don’t think Brexit will have a significant effect on the film industry,” government minister Margot James told Variety. “It won’t affect the studio space; it won’t affect the tax reliefs.”

In Cannes to promote Britain at the film festival, James said the U.K.’s appeal would remain in spite of its planned withdrawal from the European Union next year. “We are the destination for filmmakers from around the world because we’ve got key attributes: fantastic production facilities [with] the best studios in the world, we have the skilled people, and we also have a very good and attractive tax framework. No other country has all three.”

But she acknowledged concerns over the movement of non-British cast, crew and technicians into the country post-Brexit.

“In some parts [of the industry] we do need a lot of people from abroad,” James said. “When you are talking about visual effects and the very high-tech end of the sector, I accept that we do need to makes sure the Home Office has a positive immigration policy that enables us to continue to recruit the people from Europe that we need. … There is no doubt we want the advantages of Brexit, but that we still have access to the talent we need.”

James said that the importance of the film business to the U.K. has become more apparent since she took up her new government post earlier this year. Film is “important economically, as well as to the general sense of well-being and confidence we have as a country that we are a creative force globally,” she said.

As the film and TV industry adjusts to the impact of U.S. streamers, James said the newcomers are welcome additions on Britain’s entertainment landscape. “Netflix is contributing to huge market growth, so we welcome that,” she said. “We are hopeful we will get an ever closer relationship with Netflix. We don’t see that as being destructive to the rest of the industry. We see it as growing the whole sector.

“Undoubtedly it is always uncomfortable when a big new competitor arrives in a marketplace. Undeniably there will be change, but I still see a great future for independent broadcasting and independent filmmaking.”

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