Ken Loach says Brexit is bad for British films

Ken Loach in CannesImage copyright

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Loach won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for I, Daniel Blake

Director Ken Loach has warned that the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union could make it more difficult to get films made in Britain in the future.

Loach, who directed last year’s award-winning I, Daniel Blake, predicted that Brexit would make it harder to make co-productions with other EU countries.

I, Daniel Blake was a collaboration with companies from France and Belgium.

But, since the referendum, Hollywood studios are spending more in the UK – partly because of the pound’s drop.

Loach told the Hollywood Reporter: “Our co-production deals depend on workers from other countries coming to [the UK] to work on our films.

“If it is made very bureaucratic and difficult, if we leave the EU, that will make it more difficult and there is a danger that could happen.”

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Clay Enos/Warner Bros

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Wonder Woman is one of a number of Hollywood films to be shot in the UK

Loach predicted that “a lot of producers and distributors” would “just not bother” with making co-productions if there was too much red tape.

“If free movement stops and it becomes a big bureaucratic process for people to work in Britain, then that is going to inhibit [co-productions] because it is cumbersome,” he said.

He was speaking at the Czech Republic’s Karlovy Vary Film Festival, where he and scriptwriter Paul Laverty received Crystal Globes for Outstanding Contribution to World Cinema.

Figures show that the number of feature film co-productions based in the UK has dropped in the last few years. There were 61 in 2013/14 – but that fell to 21 in 2016/17, according to the British Film Institute (BFI).

The UK has co-production treaties with 10 countries and bodies outside the EU, including China, Australia and Brazil.

The result of the Brexit referendum has had one positive effect for the film industry – the drop in the value of the pound has made the UK a more attractive place for Hollywood studios.

Blockbusters like Wonder Woman, Transformers: The Last Knight and the recent Star Wars films were all shot in Britain.

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Jonathan Olley

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The new Star Wars Han Solo film is being shot at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire

More than £1.64bn was spent by foreign film studios in the UK in the 12 months until 31 March, according to the BFI – up £400m on the previous year, and almost double the amount spent in 2011/12.

A report commissioned by the BFI into the likely effects of Brexit found that, depending on the type of deal the UK government reaches with the EU, the British film industry could end up losing up to 14,100 jobs or gaining up to 5,000 more.

But the report – which was gained under a Freedom of Information request by film blogger Stephen Follows last week – says that, based on the way the negotiations are most likely to go, the overall effect is likely to be negative.

‘Boom time’

Adrian Wootton, who is chief executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, said: “Everyone’s concerned about freedom of movement and access to talent.

“Certainly there’s a group of significant film-makers including Ken who have accessed talent and financing from across Europe and there is obviously a risk.”

But he said most films that are made in the UK are not funded with European money.

He said: “The overwhelming majority, apart from domestic funding, come from across the Atlantic. Europe has a small but significant impact on a small but significant group of film-makers.

“But for the overwhelming majority of films it’s irrelevant. And the fact is we’ve got a boom going on at the moment.

“The only thing Brexit might have done, ironically, is accelerated that a bit because it’s lowered our currency and that’s made it even more attractive for the Americans to come over and spend more money.”

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