The British government has listened to months of industry lobbying and launched an emergency £500M ($646M) film and TV coronavirus production insurance fund, which could open the floodgates to a backlog of shoots worth an estimated £1BN ($1.3BN).
In a massive boost for an industry stricken by the pandemic, trade body Pact announced the insurance solution in a release on Tuesday afternoon. It signals that producers can get back into filming with a safety net, given that the fund will effectively underwrite the cost of productions closing in the event of a second lockdown.
Pact, flanked by the BFI and major industry players, has led months of constructive talks with the government over an insurance solution. The discussions have taken longer than hoped due to the unprecedented nature of the intervention and the fact that European Union clearance was required.
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Pact CEO John McVay warned through Deadline last week that if a solution was not agreed by the end of July, shoots will go one of three ways: they will be moved overseas, be pushed into 2021, or abandoned altogether. Fortunately, the government has acted, which in turn should give hundreds of prodctions the confidence to return to work.
Commenting on the fund today, he said: “This very welcome news shows that the UK Government has listened to one of our key industries and has taken unprecedented steps to support our highly successful indigenous film and TV production and broadcasting industry to get back to what we love most — making TV programmes and films enjoyed by UK audiences and many more millions around the globe.”
“This will not only help many hundreds of small companies across the UK, but also the many thousands of freelancers who have been furloughed to get back to work along with those who sadly weren’t able to benefit from the Government’s interventions.”
BFI CEO Ben Roberts added: “The issue of securing coronavirus-related insurance quickly emerged as the biggest hurdle for independent producers – and a major priority for the Screen Sector Taskforce — so the Government’s £500 million scheme is really great news for our production business, jobs and for the economy.”
Although many shoots are waiting for an insurance solution, filming is getting back underway in the UK. Deadline revealed that War Of The Worlds was the first major drama series to get cameras rolling earlier this month, while BBC show Death In Paradise is shooting again on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. Other slows slated to restart in the coming weeks include The Witcher, Sex Education, Line Of Duty, Britannia and A Discovery Of Witches.
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