Good news amidst the British independent film ‘crisis’
Like everyone, we read with great interest the BFI report last week which revealed that spending on British independent film was down 45% from 2018 to 2019, which – although nobody is highlighting it – we believe is largely due to the government’s about turn on the Enterprise Investment Scheme, a tax relief incentive which, after two decades, is no longer applicable to film production. The EIS scheme has long provided private investors with a safety net for riskier investments and, without it, many financial advisors are realising that a lot of films are not commercial enough to work fiscally and placing client funds elsewhere.
This was further compounded by a Producers’ Roundtable survey which found that 83% of British independent film producers think that being an indie producer in the UK today is “not sustainable".
At Shogun, tax mitigation is not part of our financing structures as we believe that films are a commercial enterprise which should stand on their own two feet. We have not – and have no plans to – apply for public money as we advocate free enterprise and value our true independence. As such, although we find it disappointing that the government have effectively withdrawn access to such a huge part of traditional production finance, we also think that it will encourage the industry to make films of the kind that will stand or fall on purely commercial terms.
It hasn’t all been bad news this week, however, as buried amongst the headlines is some very good news for physical media, the long-heralded demise of which is a popular media narrative which particularly suits the streaming services. While Joker enjoyed the third-biggest first week ever for a digital release in the UK with 140,000 downloads, this number paled next to the physical numbers for the Downton Abbey movie, which shifted 230,000 copies in its first week, proving that the audience is very much there for the right product on DVD.
At Shogun, we understand the value of physical media, while always being grateful to our audience for buying our films in whichever format they choose. We appreciate the feeling of ownership that a DVD or Blu-ray gives you as well as the thrill of taking a film off the shelf. As such, we will always strive to make the physical media releases of our films that little bit better, whether with special features or collectable packaging. We want you to know that when you see our logo, you’re buying something special, not just another film vying for space on the supermarket shelves. 2020 is the start of a new decade for the British film industry and we’re very excited about what’s coming up, so stay tuned for all the news. You won’t want to miss out.