UK’s independent film sector is on the verge of ‘market failure’, says BFI report – The Hollywood Reporter


Film and TV production in the UK is currently at an all-time high, topping $7.6 billion last year.

But the ongoing boom — powered by streamers and studios — doesn’t mean that’s good news for local indie films. In fact, according to a new report, the explosive growth of UK screen industries is actually having a detrimental impact on the independent film sector, the viability of which it says is “inhibited to the point of market failure”. “.

An economic review of British independent cinema, undertaken by independent research firm Alma Economics and published by the British Film Institute, exposes the harsh realities of the sector.

The review says the speed and volume of production growth has “exacerbated the pressure” on the independent sector, which it says simply can no longer compete with bigger-budget international productions on issues such as as managing rising production costs, securing cast and crew (an issue that was highlighted in the BFI’s recent skills review), and even reaching audiences.

As well as battling higher production costs, something also heavily impacted by the pandemic, the British indie film which it says is also suffering from declining revenue as studio tentpoles dominate box offices and as home entertainment sales plummet, inhibiting investment in new features.

In response, the report recommended four potential actions that could help remedy the situation. Among them, an increase in the tax relief for films that limits the relief to films considered “independent”, as well as an extension of the tax relief for films to P&A expenditures for small films and/or British independent films in order to make them “more marketable”. The review also suggests the introduction of a new zero rate of value added tax on the exploitation of UK independent films to ‘incentivize’ cinemas.

Finally, and a suggestion likely to pique the interest of big players, she proposes an increase in the financial contribution of major streaming services to UK independent cinema, otherwise through a voluntary pledge or requirement to contribute modestly to a fundraising pool. . that they can recover for British cinema.

“As a public funder, distributor and exhibitor of UK independent films, we see the growing pressures which come from all angles and have reached the point of creating a perfect storm for the industry,” said BFI CEO, Ben Roberts. “This review provides us with important economic evidence and identifies actions as preliminary recommendations that can be unpacked and modeled with the industry to allow it to thrive and continue.”

Eva Yates, Director of BBC Film, added: “As the UK’s largest independent film funder, the findings of this report unfortunately come as no surprise to us after the growing challenges faced by so many in our sector in recent years. . But there is no doubt that the talent, the know-how and the ideas are here in the UK and need to be protected and supported to thrive. We will continue to work hard with partners and producers across the industry on ways to create the best possible conditions for the creativity and sustainability of the independent film sector.

Faye Ward, producer at Fable Pictures (Rocks, Stan and Ollie, wild rose), said, “I’m not sure we’d be able to do Rocks today or many of our other films and it would be a profound loss. Rocks showed an authentic slice of life in the UK – a slice of life rarely depicted on screen and which has been acclaimed at home and abroad. Funding for these independent films is nearly impossible to put together, and that’s even with a star.

Mike Elliott, producer at EMU Films (Blessing, small ax, dirty god) said, “The lack of crew, spiraling wages, location and supplier costs resulting from the streamer boom, alongside agents, financiers and governing bodies not distinguishing between independent projects and streaming projects, is a problem.”


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