An insight into this years opening day events at Edinburgh’s International Film Festival, the impact of Brexit on the screen industry and the thriving environment of Scottish film production.
On Wednesday 21st June, the annual EIFF Screen Summit kicked off in David Hume Tower, offering a forum for anyone and everyone interested in the future of Scotland’s film and television sector the opportunity to discuss and debate the future. Co-organised by Jonny Murray, Director of Undergraduate Studies at Edinburgh College of Art in collaboration with the International Film Festival, the annual event was host to key members of the British Film Institute and the Scottish Government.
The Summit celebrated the screen industry and its achievements over the past 12 months highlighting the success of Scotland as a unique filming location for big budget productions such as Outlander and Avengers: Infinity War which were filmed in Edinburgh earlier in this year. This showed the opportunities to build on Scotland’s reputation as a cultural hotspot and proves that the £17.5 million generated from this sector based on investment by the Scottish government in recent years is a vital drive in attracting tourism and visitors. Throughout the day, the burgeoning topic on people’s minds was Brexit and the expectations of what leaving the EU might mean for British filmmakers, writers and producers. After listening to a detailed analysis on the European legal landscape provided at the summit, the blunt reality is that until final agreements are reached most of its implications are unknown.
However, what does become clear from the findings of a research report by Oxcera presented at the summit is that film production is going to be hit by a reduction in funding. This will heavily affect projects supported by organisations such as Creative Europe, which over 2014 and 2015 provided the UK with €40 million worth of grants. There is also going to be a loss of freedom of movement of labour, minimizing the available pool of highly skilled professionals and talent available to work. So what we can be sure of is there’s going to be less money and less availability of resources and people. Short term, this is likely to cause a decrease in the number of creative projects launched and as in most industries makes it difficult to uphold collaboration agreements and sustain strong relationships during a period of uncertainty.
According to the report by Oxcera, in the UK, the screen sector employs 186,000 people and contributes £6.1bn in gross value added to the economy. Worldwide British films are very popular and in 2015 accounted for 20 of the top 100 box office movies. With the breadth, variety and genius that the British screen industry offers, there is much at stake in ensuring we are able to produce the best possible content and maintain healthy relationships with the rest of Europe. Amanda Nevill, Chief Executive of the British Institute during her introduction at the summit said ‘’Brexit defies our logical understanding and it is our role to prepare and ensure our industry is protected.’’
Therefore, in order to keep on providing the foundation for some of the world’s best screen production and talent to grow, the sector must strive to eradicate barriers and move forward with strength as it always has done in the past. The cultural power that film holds is an incredible opportunity to internationally display Britain’s creative assets. As decisions in the brexit negotiations begin to take effect, it is key that we celebrate and support organisations such as the Edinburgh International Film Festival who pave the way in showcasing the UK as a hub for screen industry excellence.
As the 2017 Screen Summit drew to a close, the rain held off for a star-studded red carpet premiere of first-time director Francis Lee’s movie God’s Own Country starring Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareanu. Set in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, this film tells a raw and gripping tale of a love affair between an unhappy farmer’s son and a Romanian migrant worker. Linked to the topics discussed at the summit, this is definitely a recommended watch and just one example of the many great films premiering at the 71st Edition of Edinburgh International Film Festival, which ran until Sunday July 2nd in cinemas across the city.
See the 2017 Oxcera report on the impact of leaving the EU on the UK Screen sector here.
This article was written by Jenny Lovell. Jenny is studying Business with Marketing at the University of Edinburgh and is completing an internship at the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences working on organising festival events this summer.
The cast and director of God's Own Country
Photo Credit: DMC/Splash