The cream of the UK film industry has come together to argue its case for why Britain should vote to stay in the European Union ahead of the the referendum on Thursday. For weeks if not months now, rival campaigners from the Brexit (anti-EU) and Bremain (pro-staying in the EU) have been extolling the respective virtues of the UK leaving or staying in the EU, respectively. The tragic murder last week of Labour MP Jo Cox, seemingly by a far-right extremist, put into stark focus the extent to which the political climate across the country has turned poisonous.
Today’s statement from some of the UK’s most successful film producers, including industry legend Lord Puttnam, Working Title powerhouses Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, Slumdog Millionaire producer Christian Colson, The King’s Speech producer Iain Canning and James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli, makes an impassioned case for why the UK is better off voting to remain in the EU. The list of signatories is even more impressive for attracting support from across the political divide.
Opinion polls currently have the two sides neck and neck, with both now bringing out their big guns to add weight to their political arguments.
Here is the producers’ statement:
When it comes to such a huge issue as this week’s Euro referendum, there are any number of personal fears and ambitions that determine which way one votes. It’s not for us to attempt to answer any of them but we would like to set out our reasons as to why we believe staying in Europe is the right thing to do for our industry and for the future jobs and opportunities that come with it.
So, in the hope we can persuade you to support our current, thriving creative industries, here is our ‘pitch’.
The UK is part of the EU’s MEDIA/Creative Europe Programme which provides significant funding to our film, television and games industries each year. Between 2007 and 2015 our industry benefited from almost €130 million provided by this programme. Without this, many of the regional production funds across the UK would not have the resources they currently have. This money has helped to support thousands of highly skilled creative and technical jobs and film and television companies nationwide. This money also helps ensure that audiences across Britain can enjoy a rich and varied diet of films at the cinema and on the small screen which they might not otherwise see.
Being in the EU means that our feature films, our television programmes and our games can travel far more easily across borders because they are not subject to quotas or taxes of any kind in Europe. This significantly increases the earnings of UK audiovisual companies helping them to grow their businesses and to employ far more people on film & TV sets, in special effects houses, in games development, in cinemas and right across all of our industries.
At present, British film and television crews, actors, vfx artists, games programmers, writers and directors can all work in other European countries without a work permit and all equipment travels “carnet” free. (For those of us that remember the horror of carnets the idea of having them back in our lives is a terrifying thought!). All of this would be at risk if we were to leave.
Having a seat at the table in Europe enables us to help ensure that EU policies make a positive contribution to jobs in the film and television sectors and across all the manufacturing and service industries which support them. For example, having a voice at the negotiating table is helping the UK to prevent changes in copyright law, which could have a detrimental effect on the ability to finance films and television programmes.
All of these benefits have helped ensure that the UK has the fastest growing creative industry sector in Europe. The number of jobs in the UK’s Creative Industries increased by 5.5 per cent between 2013 and 2014 to 1.8 million jobs and the sector was worth £84 billion to the UK economy in 2014.
Hopefully some of this information might be useful for you to consider voting ‘in’ and continue the great work that, for the past twenty years, both Conservative and Labour governments have done to help build our industry into the global powerhouse it currently is.
Yours very sincerely,
Michael G. Wilson