Tax Breaks Pay Off For Producers
The British film industry has reached a new high, with figures released today showing a big leap in the amount being spent on making movies here.
Statistics from the UK Film Council show that £840m was spent last year, 48% up on a 2005 spend of £569m. Studios are also coming to Britain in greater numbers - inward investment increased by 83% to £570m. This follows a change in the tax regime designed to help low-budget British productions and lure big-budget Hollywood investment to Britain. The UK was involved in 134 feature films and a 27 of them are classed as inward investment, with the other 57 classed as British co-productions.
Variety is reporting that, as previously anticipated here, Disney/Walden Media's new Narnia film Prince Caspian will be able to access the new British tax incentives without shooting in the UK. This is down to changes in the Cultural Criteria which recognises films based on British books with British characters: meeting this is sufficient to qualify as British. To then access up to 20% of their UK expenditure as tax relief Disney will complete the post production and visual effects in the UK, spending at least 25% of the total budget here. For those working in production or at Britian's world class studios,
already struggling to compete because of an expensive pound, the
benefits of the long awaited incentive may seem to be passing them
by. Supporters of the new test, however, say this illustrates how the new scheme has already worked to attract investment - for The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe visual effects and post production were completed in LA and New Zealand.
PACT wants credits to cover cost of shooting abroad
British producers have called for the U.K. government to widen its definition of expenditure that qualifies for the new film tax credit, to include the cost of British films shooting abroad.
As currently drafted, the tax relief, worth 20% for movies under $38 million and 16% for bigger films, is restricted to money spent within the U.K.
That means that the salary of a Hollywood star shooting a big-budget studio movie at Pinewood will qualify for the rebate, but a U.K. cast and crew shooting a movie in Africa for a British production company would not.
Revised guidelines appear to no longer require film to be shot in the UK or have UK cast and crew to qualify as 'British'
Details of the new cultural test for qualifying British Films for new tax relief were announced Thursday as well as transitional arrangements for films set to . At first examination and seemed to suggest that the new system potentially would allow any film meeting just four key criteria would qualify as British:
- Film set in the UK
- Lead characters British citizens or residents
- Film based on British subject matter or underlying material
- Original dialogue recorded mainly in English language
Which appears to allow a Disney production of Oliver Twist, for example, shot in Poland or LA with an American cast and crew to still qualify as British (although because tax relief is only available on UK spend, the film would not be eligble for tax relief). Details of the new points system and transitional arrangements follow.
New UK Tax Relief to replace Section 42 from January 1st 2007
A new 'Cultural Test' for British films
has been given the green light by the European Commission today, and should
come into force on 1 January 2007. The test determines whether films can qualify for the new system
of tax relie announced by the Chancellor in the Budget
earlier this year.
The UK Film Council's New Cinema Fund (NCF) is now inviting individual filmmakers and production companies to apply to the 2006/07 Completion Fund. The fund is part of the New Cinemas Fund's programme to enable directors and producers to push their creative boundaries, develop new talent and to invest in short films that illustrate unique ideas and an innovative approach.
This is a £50,000 fund to support short films that have already been shot but lack the funds to finish. You can now apply to this fund and the closing date for entries will be Friday 17 November 2006.
Adam P Davies and I have recently begun work on a new film funding book - an update to the One With The Pig on the Front. One of the things I'm most interested in this time round, following on from the Cluetrain stuff, is community-driven financing, and in particular how filmmakers who communicate directly with their audience online can bypass conventional sales and financing methods to some extent.
Well Robert Greenwald, who Stephen Applebaum interviewed for his Wal Mart documentary earlier this year, recently completed Iraq for Sale which gets a showing at the Leeds Film Festival next week. Struggling to complete the finance on the film, with producer Jim
Gillam, Greenwald emailed everyone who had previously bought copies of the film. Four emails and nine days
later, just over 3000 people had raised more than $267,000, which in
turn released another conditional $100,000 from a philanthropist. Film financed, industry reinvented, job done. I hope to case study this in full in the book, but meantime, here's a Wall Street Journal article telling more.
The UK Film Council's New Cinema Fund (NCF) is now inviting individual
filmmakers and production companies to apply to the 2006/07
Completion Fund. The fund is part of the New Cinemas Fund's programme
to enable directors and producers to push their creative boundaries,
develop new talent and to invest in short films that illustrate unique
ideas and an innovative approach.