Brexit, Part 2

Yasuaki Mitsuwa conducted two interviews  from Japan about the impact of BREXIT on film production.

Ronan Girre

Yasuaki Mitsuwa: What do you think about Brexit?

Ronan Girre: Brexiters apparently did not expect to win and were probably the first ones to be surprised by the result of the poll. French observers think that the pro-Brexit campaign was mostly a political marketing campaign by some politicians who wanted to get more visibility but did not actually plan to leave the EU so fast. Maybe for that reason they had not really prepared a plan for the “day after.” Now, apparently, no one knows exactly what to do with this new situation in the UK. To me, it looks like there is no strategy.

How do you think Brexit will influence film production in the UK, Europe and Hollywood?

I believe it will have an impact mostly in the UK. In a way, the film business in the UK has gradually withdrawn from the European game for a number of years.

Over the last 10 years, the UK has withdrawn from the main EU film organizations. Eurimages (European Cinema Support Fund) is an example. The UK system is rather co-production unfriendly: private funds are reluctant to invest in continental productions as they are focused on Hollywood big business. Public funds (BFI) are focused on British films as they have very little money available (about the same as a medium-sized German region like NRW (North Rhine-Westphalia). The Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) tax shelter excludes international coproduction as it requires full control of the film by British companies. The shooting incentive requires 1 million sterling minimum spending in the UK and is targeted mostly at big Hollywood productions shot in Pinewood … and maybe a few French ones shot in town.

According to observers, the UK might have less money available for films — and for everything else.

Service companies and studios may have fewer US customers. Being labelled British may not provide the same advantages they do today to access the EU market (as “Harry Potter” has). Cheaper studios may become the new favorite venues for US projects. (Czechs? Bulgarians? Germans? They are all potential alternatives.)

British films are not performing very well in their own domestic market compared to their US competitors. However they might lose the European market (as they probably will not be eligible for  EU distribution support and other helpful EU devices any more. Furthermore, they might be submitted to TV quotas as other non EU films are.)

On the other hand, UK distributors do not buy many EU films  now (except Curzon and smaller companies releasing them in one or two theaters). Most multiplexes in the mainstream market are already owned by US companies who do not exhibit EU films. Before Brexit and after Brexit may make very little difference for  EU films in the UK market.

In summary, we could almost say that, in a way, Brexit already happened 10 years ago in the film business.

Any comments on Brexit and future prospects of the motion picture industry in a borderless world?

The UK commercial cinema cannot really compete with Hollywood big productions for budgetary and cast reasons (except a few films like “The King’s Speech.”)  They have the same problem as  Canadian English speaking films, Australian films and films in New Zealand: they keep a very small share of their domestic market compared to other non-English speaking countries whose market is naturally protected by their native language.

On the other hand, the UK’s main art house cinema market happens to be France, and to a lesser degree, the EU. This market may become more difficult to reach. Therefore, my UK friends are very pessimistic at the moment.

Another important element to keep in mind is that Canada is joining Eurimages in 2017 and will almost be considered as an EU country in regards to film production. For French companies, shooting in English will be easier in Toronto than in the UK when they will need to. (As a reminder, French law gives access to all kinds of advantages when the film is shot in the language of the producer or in the language of the co-producer. French companies need to raise money in an English-speaking country when they want to shoot in English).

However let us not be too pessimistic. The new British government has apparently decided to wait a very long time before actually implementing Brexit. They might wait years and years—and not only for cinema’s sake—because they have many other more important problems to solve.

Adam Torel

Yasuaki Mitsuwa: What do you think about Brexit?

Adam Torel: I think that many people obviously did not understand the facts and what impact leaving Europe would actually have on their individual lives. I don’t even believe that many of the people who promoted the movement expected that it would actually happen (as proven by the resignation of Farage) and for sure they have no plan about how to stop the sinking ship of a country they are left with. Personally I think that it will be looked upon as one of the biggest mistakes in history that a country has ever made.

How do you think Brexit will influence film production in UK, Europe and Hollywood?

Personally, as a distributor of Japanese films in the UK, it will be much harder to acquire titles for the UK due to the weakness of the UK’s Pound Sterling against the Japanese Yen. Also, if the UK plunges quickly into a bottomless pit of economic recession and general depression, the younger population (our target audience) will have less free cash to spend on niche entertainment. In terms of production, with the UK’s film production market being so closely linked (both financially as well as in terms of staff/talent) with Europe and the US, I’d imagine that making films in the UK will be much less appealing to investors and creators.

Any comments on Brexit and future prospect of the motion picture industry in a borderless world?

You say borderless world, though England has now made very sturdy borders—so they may find it very hard to continue being part of the global industry. 

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