Television Commercial Production Tax Relief - Give Us a Break?
Tax credits/relief - everyone is at it, “come and shoot in our beautiful country and lob X% off the production budget.” Of course, there is always a criteria to meet, mostly of a minimum spend or specific number of shoot days. It’s a serious carrot dangled in front of the movie executives and directors as they make their decisions as to the best locations and bang for buck.
Film commissions worldwide are competing with their offerings, local businesses are getting in on the action discounting their products, including hotels, suppliers, car rentals and recently Film San Francisco tied a deal with Delta Airlines for subsidised crew flights. Governments are hugely supportive of this feature film financial import and of it paving the way for many country co-productions.
It’s not just the features production industry who capitalise on this. The UK offers six 'Creative Industries Tax Reliefs' - Film, Animation, High-End Television and Children’s Television can claim up to 10% and Video Gaming and Theatre up to 25%, all subject to meeting specific stipulations. It has taken years of campaigning on some of these sectors in order to get the structure in place, but it is there and enabling a healthy amount of co-productions and work flow.
Why is it, then, that television commercial production is part of the exclusion gang? To date, EU Law has restricted any form of advertising production from being subsidised, but now with Brexit, the door could be open to allow UK advertising production to benefit. The Advertising Producers Association (APA) and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) have been in discussion with the UK Government for three years and there are stats, interest and willingness to get something on the table.
Most countries follow suit with zero incentives for commercial productions, however exceptions can be found in Dubai/UAE, Malaysia and specific USA states. It seems that not all incentives are that easily accessible, or clearly structured, sometimes proving too much admin and headache to save a very small proportion in an already quick turnaround business.
Now that Brexit is in motion, this can be the opportunity to develop a scheme to bring more incentivised international productions into to the UK. Increasing our freelance-crew work rate, driving the need for more studios and suppliers and of course assisting the development of the next generation of our talent which are all industry positives in campaigning for a tax incentive.
Many international commercial producers consider the UK and, in particular, London as a high cost centre and off limits to their projects. Madam is re-educating and advising clients on what can be achieved in the UK and of course with the current low £, there is a very real spike in overseas interest to build on.
Whatever your view on Brexit and the subsequent falling £, one key aspect remains the same across all production sectors: we still have access to world-leading crew, suppliers and facilities. There isn’t a better time to change the model to incentivise our overseas friends to shoot in the UK so let’s re-energise the debate.
Carly Stone is Founding Partner & EP at MADAM