Monday, 23 March 2015

Rent seekers vs rent seekers (2)

From The Evening Standard:

The British film industry is being squeezed by Hollywood blockbusters and “high-end” TV series taking advantage of tax breaks, a movie boss warned today.

Christine Langan, head of BBC Films, said that while the tax breaks for films were a good thing, the extension of support for the most expensive TV dramas such as Wolf Hall will push up UK costs as producers “fight for space and crew”.

Ms Langan, who was behind international hits including Philomena, An Education and Saving Mr Banks, said that it was important to safeguard and nurture the low-budget British film industry from growing competition.


The Stigler said...

The point of film-making/video-game production subsidies are to rectify the problems of income tax that fails to distinguish between jobs that can move anywhere and those that can't.

You could shoot Game of Thrones in half a dozen countries - as a result, the producers will go where they get the best tax breaks. The benefit is that they generally hire local crew, local actors and so forth, and your country has lots of working people paying tax rather than sitting on the dole.

It is not about helping "British Indie Producers", except that they can have the same tax breaks as everyone else.

And, frankly, fuck "British films". The story of Wolf Hall has less relevance to me today than a Korean murder-mystery I saw the other day. If you can't get people to hand over their money to watch what you make, you can go and find something else to do.

Mark Wadsworth said...

TS: "The point of film-making/video-game production subsidies are to rectify the problems of income tax"

You have made that point before and it is a very valid one.

I love it when my clients come to me and say "We'd like to film in Country X because of the super-generous tax breaks, but when we look at actual costs, it's really expensive".

I then have to explain about tax arbitrage and rent seeking and so on, but by and large, film makers will do the decent thing and choose the country with the lowest net overall cost.

The Stigler said...


Something that's happened recently is that a lot of films and TV are being made with a mix of small sets and large CG backgrounds. New York charges a fortune for filming there (not just costs, but because they have a monopoly on say, filming in front of the Statue of Liberty) so people are taking to making their own versions of New York. If you want to see how brilliantly this can be done:-

Bayard said...

Brilliant, and the CGI version is genuine 1920's, unlike the original.

Mark Wadsworth said...

TS, that's rather good is that. But confirms my suspicion that it's all bloody CGI nowadays.

The Stigler said...

And part of that is because people can.

There's a lot of CGI everywhere. One problem is that it can take you out of a scene. Your brain doesn't process it quite like a real scene.

DBC Reed said...

Altogether too much of the market knows best attitude on here.All cut throat competition does is cull the smaller ,less- capitalised operators and leave the way open for some nice big cartels as happened with retail.
But on the bright side, there is a letter from 5I of the great and good in today's Guardian that recognises that the government has deliberately introduced " measures to boost house prices".

ontheotherhand said...

The UK has always punched way above its weight on its global share of popular music as was highlighted in the opening ceremony of the Olympics along with the invention of the internet which seems to be doing fine without subsidies. Why has UK music done so well without subsidies, or do they get them too?

Mark Wadsworth said...

OTOH - exactly! The UK excels at pop music and at West End musicals (although that is largely down to Andrew Lloyd-Webber and a couple of others whose names escape me).

Why? Because neither are subsidised and are taxed full whack. The Establishment looks down on them both as being for the 'little people'. So only the best survive.

But no doubt they will extend these subsidies to pop music in the near future and that will be the end of that. Fair enough, it's all crap nowadays anyway, the kids don't even listen to pop music any more, they play games instead, that's the new rock'n'roll.

The Stigler said...

DBC Reed,
There's lots of small, low-budget films being made and exhibited around the UK. Guardians of the Galaxy isn't crowding out something like Locke or The Duke of Burgundy.

Music is largely about language. We're the 2nd biggest developed English speaking nation after the USA.

But, there's plenty of British talent involved in filmmaking. When people talk about "Hollywood", that's just a place that people hold meetings now. There's not much filmmaking going on there. Technology has meant that you can divide the workload up across countries. You can film something in Paris and the next day, you can be editing it in London and fire it off to the post-production effects team near San Francisco.