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BFI report proposes measures to boost British independent film


- The commission’s report recommends keeping Britain in the successor programme to Creative Europe after Brexit in order to give impetus to British independent film

BFI report proposes measures to boost British independent film
Amanda Nevill, Margot James and Zygi Kamasa (© Tim Whitby/BFI)

Minister for the Digital and Creative Industries Margot James has joined figures from the British film industry for the publication of a report from the BFI’s Commission on UK Independent Film to propose measures to boost British independent film. Chaired by Lionsgate UK CEO Zygi Kamasa and made up of leaders from across the UK film sector, the commission took contributions from individuals and organisations representing every area of the film industry. The commission’s report makes four key industry-led proposals alongside five recommendations for the BFI and the UK government to consider.

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The aim of the commission was to: identify measures that would help UK producers and filmmakers retain significant intellectual property (IP) rights in their films, leading to long-term benefits for UK companies; find ways to grow overall revenues for UK independent film; better understand, monitor and respond to changing audience behaviours; identify new sources of commercial investment; address whether current rights arrangements are fit to maximise value to filmmakers and investors; and strengthen the UK’s ability to collaborate internationally.

The four key proposals for industry are:

  • Maximising the value of rights: calling for industry-wide cooperation and collaboration to maximise the value of rights at every stage for the benefit of all those with a stake in boosting a film’s revenues (including producers, distributors, sales agents, exhibitors and broadcasters). The proposal recommends the BFI commission a detailed independent study in cooperation with key stakeholders.
  • Projects to engage and grow younger audiences: two pilot projects, one delivered by ourscreen in partnership with a major UK broadcaster, and the other by BIFA (the British Independent Film Awards). The BFI is to present the data and findings of both pilots for the benefit of the industry.
  • A new EIS fund to channel equity into UK independent film companies: the commission recommends that a new EIS fund, affiliated with but independent of the BFI, be created to raise private investment to help strengthen and grow a diverse group of dynamic and ambitious UK film production companies. It would exist as a commercial investment model and aim to maximise benefit to the investor and the investee (the production company).
  • More commercial development funding: acknowledging that outside the BFI Film Fund, BBC Films and Film4, development funding is scarce, particularly for the optioning and packaging of high-value, commercially focused properties, the commission proposes a new £5+ million commercial development fund over five years backed by investor partners who are seeking to engage with leading UK talent.

The commission also makes a number of recommendations for consideration by the BFI and the government. These include:

  • Encouraging the government to explore whether the current film tax relief could be maximised by stimulating the production of internationally successful films;
  • That the BFI works with the government nationally and locally to consider how additional financial incentives could boost production in the nations and regions, and enhance the export value of UK films internationally;
  • Ensure the UK film tax relief does not penalise official UK co-productions by enabling the UK co-producer to claim 100% - rather than 80%, as is currently the case – of qualifying UK spend (up to a maximum of 80% of the total budget), thereby making the UK a more attractive co-producing partner for international collaborators;
  • Securing the UK’s continued participation in the successor programme to Creative Europe after Brexit, in return for appropriate funding, to ensure the UK continues to access the substantial benefits that membership of the programme brings; and that the BFI conducts a full analysis of the benefits and costs of rejoining Eurimages with recommendations to the government to be made by the end of 2018;
  • That the BFI seeks funding for permanent representatives to be based in key international territories, particularly where co-production treaties are now in place (notably China) to enhance the UK’s opportunities to build long-lasting and fruitful new partnerships post-Brexit.

The full report from the BFI Commission on UK Independent Film can be downloaded here.

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