Last night at the Bafta Awards ceremony, ‘The Theory of Everything’ with Eddie Redmayne as an enigmatic Stephen Hawking scooped three awards, and ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ won five Baftas, with Ralph Fiennes giving an absolute gem of a performance. Jack O’Connell was identified as the rising star and Stephen Beresford and David Livingstone scooped the Outstanding Debut for Director / Producer award. All heartening accolades for the UK film industry and for the UK film studios.
Last week the British Film Institute released statistics detailing the the total amount of film and television production in the UK for the past year. £1.5bn was infused into the UK economy as a result. “Today’s record breaking figures show our production industries are thriving and London is at the very heart of that success,” says David Parfitt, Chairman of Film London. “The city’s status as a global production hub sees it acting as gateway to the rest of the UK, delivering for the economy and creating thousands of jobs.”
With approximately 75% of the UK’s film production industry based in and around London, roughly £1bn of that feature film spend was invested in the capital, thanks to its world-class crew and state-of-the-art facilities.
The High-end Television Tax relief – in place since 2013, and the Film Tax Relief – is attracting a high number of big budget productions to London. Television production spend across the UK reached £615m in 2014, a significant percentage of which was spent in the capital. Londoners might be surprised to learn that Downton Abbey, The Royals and the new Fortitude crime series based theoretically in the Arctic Circle, used London as a backdrop as did the ‘Theory of Everything‘, ‘The Imitation Game’ and many more.
There is a revolution in filmmaking taking place. The digital age and global awareness has created an enormous demand for content. Companies operating in the UK such as Sky, Netflix, Virgin, BT and Amazon are buying up rights to broadcast and stream content around the world. Netflix alone expect to invest $3bn this year on media content.
The arrival of the big USA studios, our creative success on the world stage, the demand for UK talent, our seemingly natural creative talents in animation, visual effects, in post-production and indeed, the English language, are creating a huge demand for state of the art facilities and for studio space.
A series of blockbusters where London and its environs play a fundamental role like Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Mission Impossible 5 and the latest James Bond film Spectre, all draw on London’s world-class locations, facilities and expertise. Elsewhere, studios just outside the capital have hosted the next, hotly-anticipated instalment of the Star Wars saga, along with some big budget childhood story adaptations including Pan, Tarzan and Cinderella.
The thought remains – how does the UK Film, TV, Video and Gaming industry ensure the UK captures, retains and profits from this high-appeal, high-growth market? Significant and targeted investment in training and infrastructure is certainly required and the continued support of the Government through tax reliefs to attract personal and corporate investors remains a must.