- The UK government launches a £500 million emergency fund for the film and TV production industry.
- The film and TV production industry will get a boost with this insurance fund as it struggles to come out of the Coronavirus crisis.
- Some insurance providers denied the COVID-19 coverage that the filmmakers required to get finances for their projects.
- The UK government also revealed the details of the planned Cultural Recovery Fund consisting of £1.57 billion,which will be disbursed across the arts sector.
The UK government on 28 July 2020 announced a fund of £500 million for the country’s film and television industry. The money will help the industry to begin production activities, which came to a halt in March 2020 due to the lockdown imposed to curb spread of the Coronavirus.
Many filmmakers and production houses noted that some insurance providers stopped giving the COVID-19 coverage that they require to get finances for their projects. In its endeavour to come out of the global pandemic-led crisis, the industry was under the stress of being denied the necessary insurance cover. The government came to the rescue of the industry after several companies complained that the Coronavirus outbreak has hindered them to secure insurance, as they have resumed work.
The government said that the Film and TV Production Restart Scheme, will work as an assistance to the industry so that they begin productions across the country, which faced the challenges of being halted or getting delayed due to lack of insurance cover. In addition to making the insurance available to the industry, the fund will cover the Coronavirus-related losses or illness of cast and crew members, besides any other delays that the production would have to face during the continued fight against the pandemic.
In its announcement while launching the fund, the government stated that all filmmakers and production houses that will spend at least 50 per cent of their total production budget in the UK would be eligible to access this insurance fund. It will cover more than 70 per cent of the total film and television production market, as per the government’s estimate.
Expressing happiness on the government’s move, Oliver Dowden, Britain’s culture minister highlighted that this would lead to an increased action in the industry. He mentioned that the entire world looks forward to watch the award-winning movies and shows produced in the country.
The film and television industry also welcomed the government’s announcement which came after several months of discussion with the industry and led by the trade body, Pact (a trade body that represents the commercial interests of the UK’s several companies including independent television, film, digital, children and animation media), the British Film Institute, leading production companies, and several other related groups.
Suggesting that the fund would assist not only the business, but prevent to reduce job cuts and serve the economy as well, Ben Roberts, chief executive of the British Film Institute (BFI), stressed that several independent producers faced the challenge of securing the Coronavirus-related insurance.
Describing the government’s decision as an unprecedented effort to assist the highly successful indigenous film and TV production, and broadcasting industry, John McVay, chief executive of Pact mentioned that besides supporting several small companies, it will also help the freelancers (under the furlough scheme) to return to work and those who could not get help from any of the government’s interventions.
Other announcements by the government involving the arts sector at large
In addition to the insurance fund for the film and television industry, the UK government on 28 July 2020 also outlined the details of its planned Cultural Recovery Fund consisting of £1.57 billion, which will be distributed across the arts sector.
As part of the confidence building measure and revival of the arts sector at large, the government presented details of its planned arts sector support to include indie cinemas, theater, and music segments. Out of this expenditure, £880 million, to be divided into two funding rounds, will be released at present. While the first round will see a distribution of £622 million, the rest £258 million has been kept to be given to companies for meeting their developing needs and expenses later in the financial year. It is expected that the theaters, music and comedy venues, and museums will be benefitted in the first round.
Among its steps to lift the lockdown, the government has allowed cinemas to reopen in the country; however strict guidelines are issued to prevent any spread of the Covid-19 infections. In order to implement the necessary steps to keep both the staff and audience safe, independent cinemas can apply to the British Film Institute’s £30 million grant scheme, which has reserved £3 million especially for safety grants and rest is meant to be used for business sustainability needs. At present there are 775 cinemas in the UK and 55 per cent of them operate as independent venues and each can apply for £10,000 to carry out necessary safety measures.
Plight of the film and television industry due to the global pandemic
The Coronavirus pandemic is expected to have a huge impact on the revenue and job losses in the film and television industry. According to a recent study by the Oxford Economics for the Creative Industries Federation, the creative sector as a whole, including films and television is expected to contract by £74 billion. The film and television sector could see job cuts of 100,000, which will comprise of both employed and self-employed staff across film, television, photography, radio, and video accounting to a total of £36 billion in financial loss. The loss from post-production and VFX segment would be additional £800,000.
In May end 2020, the British Film Corporation came out with its guidelines on safe working environment for the Film and high-end TV drama production during Covid-19, so that the industry could return to the studios for shooting activities. The UK government discussed the norms with the BFI and other health and safety institutions and approved it, though it was left to the production units to take the final call as to when the necessary safety measures are in place to start the production work.
The UK’s multibillion-pound TV and film production industry witnessed a complete shutdown due to the lockdown imposed in March 2020. This led to huge gaps in schedules for several shows running on the television and movies undergoing production. Though, the industry has geared up to start the shooting work, the audience would still require to wait for watching the latest shows. Industry insiders believe that some of the programmes may not soon return with reality shows and shows with live audience.
The industry at large and independent bodies like the BFI are working together to encourage the audiences to visit the cinema halls. The government’s schemes will help the cinemas to provide the public with a safe cinema viewing experience. The UK government’s scheme of insurance for the country’s indigenous film and TV production industry is expected to expedite the completion of stalled projects and begin new ones. The audience would soon be able to catch up with the latest episodes of ongoing television shows, new shows, and new movies. In it’s unlocking measures from the Coronavirus induced lockdown, the UK government has allowed to open cinema halls, while following necessary health advisory to curb the spread of the infections.