Creative tax reliefs support 1917 Oscars success

As World War I epic 1917 bagged three Oscars, sweeping the board in the crafts categories, HMRC revealed the film is one of thousands to have benefited from tax breaks for the creative sector

According to British Film Institute (BFI) figures, 2019 saw the highest ever spend on film and high-end TV production in the UK at more than £3.6bn.

Since 2007, when the current creative tax reliefs for films started, more than 5,000 claimants have benefitted. BFI research suggests that every £1 given in tax relief in the UK generates more than £7 in return for the UK economy.

Epic war film 1917, directed by Sam Mendes, cost an estimated £90m (£61m) to make and has taken $288m in global ticket sales since it was released last December.

Pippa Harris, a producer on 1917, said: ‘The UK film and high-end TV tax reliefs have been absolutely crucial [both] in terms of supporting the UK production industry. On 1917 alone, we were able to give employment to over 1,200 crew and more than 1,000 cast, stunt performers and supporting artists.

‘As well as the direct employment a major film creates, there is also a large economic benefit for the regions where shooting takes place. In the case of 1917, we shot across the UK in 12 separate locations, from Glasgow down to Salisbury Plain.’

As well as live action movies animation specialists such as Oscar-winning studio Aardman, known for Wallace & Gromit and Shaun the Sheep, have also used film and animation tax reliefs.

Kerry Lock, finance director of Aardman, said: ‘These reliefs are often a key part of financing and some projects simply would not have been produced had they not been available. This helps us to continue to produce in the UK and develop and nurture talent.’

As well as film, animation and high-end TV reliefs, the government offers creative tax reliefs for certain children’s television programmes, video games, theatrical productions, orchestral concerts, or museum or gallery exhibitions.

Accountancy firm sponsorship deal

In a separate initiative to support the creative arts, HW Fisher has signed a partnership with Curtis Brown Creative to fund a scholarship to support fledgling TV drama writers. 

The programme will allow one writer of limited financial means to join the inaugural writing an original TV drama serial course, starting in March.

The course is led by screenwriter, playwright and former Birkbeck Professor Colin Teevan and will include five industry masterclasses, with participants including a BBC commissioner and the producer of TV hit Peaky Blinders.

Andrew Subramaniam, HW Fisher partner, said: ‘We are proud to work with a wide variety of creatives at all stages of their careers. We have been working with Curtis Brown Creative for a number of years, sponsoring their novel writing courses, and are delighted that two of our previous HW Fisher scholars have gone on to receive major book deals for their debut novels.

'We are excited to support this new course and to hear the TV drama ideas that our successful recipient will create.’

Details of writing scholarship

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