Key takeaways from panel discussion on Brexit during the London Film Festival

On Friday, 7 October, I was honored to join a panel discussion at the London Film Festival where different parts of the industry came together to debate prospects and ambitions for the future of UK film and television production.

Titled “Business as Usual: The U.K. After the E.U. Referendum,” the session explored the implications of the decision to leave the EU.

Our host, British Film Institute CEO Amanda Nevill, warmly recalled the supportive messages from her French and German counterparts the morning of the referendum result, assuring her that the UK’s place at the table alongside the other European film agencies remains secure.  Her German counterpart, Peter Dinges, joined the panel to further confirm that support.

Also sharing the stage were Alex Hope, managing director of VFX company Double Negative; producer Gail Egan from Potboiler Productions (who previously spoke at the Creativity Works! screening of Our Kind of Traitor in Brussels); Dimitra Tsingou, chief operating officer of Protagonist Pictures; and BFI’s head of international, Isabel Davis.

I came in to this discussion feeling excited about the great movies that are being made in the UK.  According to BFI data, U.S. studios have invested more than £4.6 billion making films in the UK over the past five years.  That investment and the successes it has bred have further solidified the UK’s reputation as a great place to make film and television.

I walked out of today’s discussion with a few main takeaways:

  • The industry agrees that future UK policy should aim to support a collaborative and mobile international workforce, in keeping with the internationally collaborative nature of the film and television business. It takes a lot of people, often from many different countries and backgrounds, to make a great film. Also it is important that we are able to bring new people into the team and to train them “on the job” for whatever are the then current core, technical or/and more specialist requirements.
  • We’re all grateful that the UK government has wisely confirmed that it will maintain its vitally important and very successful film production incentives. Panel participants raised several other important funding issues that should be addressed.
  • Our sector is keen for the UK to craft a relationship with the EU that keeps the door open – in both directions – to film and television trade and investment.
  • We need the UK government to stay engaged on the EU’s digital single market proposals. The EU will remain a key export market, so any erosion of the ability to license rights for EU countries on a territorially exclusive basis is a serious concern for producers of all sizes.
  • The UK must remain a leader internationally in fighting copyright piracy and reaching out to foreign markets.

At the end of the day, film and television is not just a good business for the UK.  It’s a source of great jobs and great entertainment, and a vital part of Britain’s global image.