UK tax credits the stars of the show

The CollectionAt Day One of MBI’s Media Production Show on 9 June, a panel session was held to discuss how the UK tax credits can best enhance a production, with the clear conclusion that the incentives can transform areas of the UK and turn them into production hotspots.  

High-end drama production was held up as the best example of this, as all agreed the sheer amount of TV ‘high-ends’ had ‘exploded’ in recent years.   

Max Rumney, deputy chief executive of PACT, began by saying that now was a great time to be an independent producer, and used Wales as an example of how the tax relief can bring high-ends to areas previously not known for intensive production activity.  

He described the tax relief as “a very important part of the jigsaw of finance” with the knock-on effect that the overall prosperity “is allowing producers to do things we will all benefit from, such as investment in training and diversity.”

Cahal Bannon of Lookout Point went on to explain the need to maximise the tax incentives on offer. He stressed that international co-productions provided the perfect opportunity to double up and use the credits both here and in the co-producing country: “If you bring in French or Belgian or Irish talent, be it above-the-line or below-the-line, you can claim relief on them too, be they cast, costume etc. So you can claim on, say, French talent, twice, both in the UK and France!” 

The Collection

War and Peace and The Martian were held up as examples of another way to best fulfil the criteria to qualify for tax relief as, although both projects were filmed entirely outside the UK, they qualified for the scheme though doing a certain amount of post-production here in the UK.  

Returning to the regions and nations, the panel ran through the funds on offer from regional film offices such as Screen Yorkshire and Wales’ Pinewood fund, and reminded the largely filmmaking audience that these regional offerings can be combined with the national UK tax reliefs on offer. 

Bannon emphasised the need to think laterally to maximise this: “When a script says 100% of the story takes place in France, you don’t have to shoot 100% in Paris. Think, ‘let’s bring this to the UK to get the tax relief.’”

He cited Lookout Point’s current international French co-production for Amazon, The Collection (pictured), set in 1940s France but with its filming base at Swansea Bay Studios, saying: “It was more cost-effective for us, with the Welsh government subsidies, to build a set on a backlot in Swansea than to shoot in France. And then the sets are there should it be a retuning series, like Game of Thrones. 

“We shot in Wales and found other locations that fitted the story. Swansea Town Hall doubles for a 1940s nightclub in Paris, with a clever bit of dressing.”

The Collection

The conclusion was clear: the UK’s tax credit offering plays a massive part in bringing major productions, in both film and high-end TV drama, to many parts of the UK, with production no longer focused mainly on London and the south east. 


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