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Boris Got Brexit Done, But U.K. Film and TV Industry Is Still Open For Business (Column)

Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Focus Features

British Film Commission chief executive Adrian Wootton argues that the fiscal incentives that make the U.K. such an attractive market for film and TV will not be affected by Brexit. He will deliver the following message to delegates at Sundance later today.

With awards season in full swing, we are reminded of just how successful the U.K. is at producing exceptional talent and content for audiences around the globe.

Throughout political change, the most pressing of which is Brexit, the screen sector remains strong. In fact, the booming film and TV industries have continued to demonstrate unprecedented growth. In 2018, film and high-end television production spend in the U.K. reached over £3.1 billion ($4.1 billion). The economics speak for themselves and that collective achievement is testament to the U.K. repeatedly proving itself as a fantastic place to produce content.

So, what is it that brings production here? We have a generous and reliable tax relief, a favourable exchange rate, world-class studios and facilities, exceptional post-production and VFX, and an immense variety of locations.

In recent months, Netflix, Disney and Scanline have confirmed major international investments into the U.K.’s creative economy, all committing to permanent or long-term production bases and demonstrating a huge vote of confidence in U.K. infrastructure.

Sky is planning to build a 32-acre film and TV studio in Elstree and further studio developments are currently in the pipeline including Elstree, Barking & Dagenham and Liverpool, allowing for even more content creation and further bolstering the U.K. offering.

We can’t and don’t take any of this for granted and we will never rest on our laurels. It is our mission to work alongside the BFI and partners across the industry, from all corners of the U.K., to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to secure long-term sustainability. That means continuing to address challenges around space and infrastructure and skills in order to meet increased demand and we are working harder than ever to accelerate these opportunities.

It is also our responsibility to ensure, during this time of political change, that we are very clear about communicating the current state of play to our international colleagues.

We need to dispel any misinformation – and there has been some misleading and erroneous information circulating – and reiterate that the fiscal incentives and competitiveness of the U.K. will not be affected. The tax credits are primary legislation and will remain in place. We firmly believe that they are, and continue to be, the most efficient and competitive in the world.

The U.K. is absolutely open for business and we see ourselves very much as part of the international firmament, doing everything we can to ensure that we have the power to deliver for international productions.

We, together with our talent, remain hungry to work with the world. With the U.S., of course, but also maintaining our long and fruitful relationship with European partners and colleagues post-Brexit.

It is this message that we will be delivering at Sundance and taking to the world in 2020 as we service the growing number of major clients who continue to invest here whilst embarking on a program of assuring the international industry that we remain not just a stable and competitive place to produce content, but a global production centre positively brimming over with opportunity, talent and creativity.

Adrian Wootton is chief executive of the British Film Commission and film and media body Film London