UK indie film boosted with 40% tax relief

UK indie film boosted with 40% tax relief
Scrapper, credit DMC Film, BBC Films, BFI and Great Point Media

The UK Government has announced it is to introduce tax relief of 40% for films with budgets of up to £15m, a move welcomed by industry bodies PACT and the BFI. 

The move aims to bolster the UK indie film sector and continue to grow the pipeline of homegrown filmmaking talent, thus preventing UK independent filmmakers choosing to film abroad instead.   

Following a review by the BFI in July 2022, Pact commissioned two extensive pieces of research on the UK indie film sector. The in-depth reports helped boost Pact’s campaign for the introduction of an increased film tax credit, as its representatives met HMT officials and advisors, the CMS Committee, Ministers, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Prime Minister. 

The campaign gained cross-industry support from the BFI, MPA, Film4, BBC Film and Paramount, who all backed Pact’s proposals for the tax credit enhancement.

The news, announced today (6 March) as part of the Spring Budget, has been welcomed by filmmakers including Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas, Idris Elba, Tilda Swinton, Edgar Wright, Mike Leigh, Andrew Haigh, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Barbara Broccoli, David Heyman, Kenneth Branagh, Daniel Kaluuya, Danny Boyle, Riz Ahmed, Gurinder Chadha, Sam Mendes, Steve McQueen, Elizabeth Karlsen, Alex Garland, Alfonso Cuaron, Andrea Arnold, Asif Kapadia, Emerald Fennell, Gareth Edwards, Joanna Hogg, Joe Cornish, Nida Manzoor, Paul Greengrass, Paul King, Andrew ‘Rapman’ Onwubolu, Richard Curtis, Ridley Scott, Steven Knight and David Puttnam.

John McVay OBE, Pact chief executive, said: “I’m pleased that the Government has recognised the important role the British independent film sector plays in developing key talent and sustaining jobs across the economy. 

“The sector has reached a critical point and this intervention will provide a lifeline to indie film producers by allowing them to access funding which will attract key creative talent and in turn give them the ability to recoup their initial investment.”

Ben Roberts, BFI chief executive, said: “This is a dramatic moment for UK film, and the most significant policy intervention since the 1990s. The positive impact will be felt across our industry, and through all the new films that audiences will get to enjoy.

“The films we make are vital to our culture expression and creativity – they reflect a diverse and global Britain, and build careers – and we’re grateful to Government, the DCMS, the industry and our friends at Pact for working together to realise this historic initiative.”

Jay Hunt, BFI chair added: “The Government’s new tax credit is a game changer for UK filmmakers, creating jobs and ensuring great British stories continue to be told. By introducing the uplifted rate, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor are fuelling the growth of the wider screen sector that contributes billions to the UK economy.”  

Chief executive of Creative UK, Caroline Norbury, remarked: “… it’s brilliant to see the Chancellor announce some positive news for the Cultural and Creative Industries during his speech in the House of Commons this afternoon. 

“We’re delighted to see support for independent film announced, in the shape of a new UK Independent Film Tax Credit for films with budgets up to £15m.”  

The uplift in the expenditure credit is for UK films with a budget up to £15m range (with either a UK writer, or UK director, or certified as an official UK co-production). Films that meet the criteria will be able to claim an increased Audio-Visual Expenditure Credit (AVEC) at 53% (up from 34%) from 1 April 2024. (The AVEC replaces the Film Tax Relief rate which has provided 25% of qualifying UK expenditure on up to 80% of a film’s total production budget. The AVEC at 53% equates to a relief rate of approximately 40% under the Film Tax Relief.

More reactions from UK filmmakers included: 

Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas, writer/director and producer, nominated for 13 Oscars for Oppenheimer: “Independent and lower-budget filmmaking is where we had our start and where new voices and innovations vital to the entire industry are born. This enhanced tax relief builds on the incredible work already being done by British filmmakers and will create new opportunities for British crews, filmmakers and cast members for years to come.“  

Barbara Broccoli CBE, producer, Eon Productions, Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool, Ear For Eye, Bond films: “The support for independent filmmaking announced by the Prime Minister and Chancellor today is game changing. It will ensure that our screen industry will continue to thrive by giving opportunities to a diversity of new talent both on and off the screen for future generations of filmmakers.”   

Andrew Haigh, director, All Of Us Strangers, 45 Years, The Weekend: “Like many independent films, mine can feel very personal. But I think the reason that my latest film All Of Us Strangers has found an audience is because it’s really about human relationships and how we communicate and connect with each other. Getting films made is always tough, and I’m lucky that I get to make my films here and work with incredible actors and crew. This investment in filmmaking in the UK is great news and feels like a vote of confidence – we have such an amazing legacy to be proud of, and continue.”  

Steve McQueen, Oscar-winning writer/director, Hunger, 12 Years A Slave, Widows: “I strongly back the proposal for enhanced tax relief for low budget independent films. Independent films are extremely important.”

Scrapper image via DMC Film, BBC Film, BFI and Great Point Media. 

Share this Article