According to the producer of Ken Loach, independent films in the UK will not survive without financial assistance.

According to the producer of Ken Loach, independent films in the UK will not survive without financial assistance.

The producer who won a Bafta for his work on Ken Loach’s praised movies has cautioned that the independent film industry in the UK will perish without further financial aid.

During a session with the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Rebecca O’Brien, co-owner of Sixteen Films production company alongside Loach and screenwriter Paul Laverty, expressed pressing worries about the current state of the British film and high-end TV industry.

Market failure occurred due to the influx of streamers, which led to an increase in high-end TV production and the presence of Hollywood. As a result, many investors were drawn away from the sector. O’Brien stressed the need for further fiscal aid to prevent potential demise.

When asked about Sixteen Films’ ability to produce and distribute their movies, O’Brien, who has been working with Loach for over 30 years, shared his insight.

She mentioned that during the making of “I, Daniel Blake,” they were unaware of its potential success in Japan. They believed that they were creating a small film focused on the north-east and sharing stories about specific aspects of the community during that period.

“We were motivated to create this because we believed it was a significant narrative to share. You can never predict which story will resonate with audiences. It’s only through trial and error that we can determine its impact, which is why research and development is crucial in bringing stories to life.”

The director, whose most recent movie with Loach, The Old Oak, received a Bafta nomination, stated that the success of their films heavily relies on their European collaborators who provide funding and help distribute their projects globally.

“Over the past 25 years, all of my films have been co-produced in Europe,” she stated, noting that obtaining funding from the continent has become increasingly difficult.

She mentioned that she had to extensively search throughout Europe in order to secure funding for her newest production, Harvest, directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari and featuring Caleb Landry Jones. The film is a collaborative effort between the UK, France, Germany, Greece, and the US, with funds coming from public resources, pre-sales, and various tax credits from each of those countries.

She mentioned that the production also received funding from private investors, Creative Scotland, and BBC Film. “It’s a very demanding task to bring all those elements together.”

O’Brien addressed the expenses involved in cultivating emerging talent from Britain. She mentioned that this talent is being taken away by streaming services and foreign investors who are able to offer higher compensation to actors and crew. She stated, “We constantly have to search for and nurture new talent to fill the void, and we are more than willing to do so.”

“However, a film with a smaller budget may not have the resources to hire well-known British actors, as they are likely busy with their hectic schedules working on Hollywood productions at Pinewood Studios.”

She suggested that the UK government could demonstrate their trust in the independent sector by providing additional tax credits to producers. She stated, “If I had a 15% increase in funds available, it would boost my confidence.”

Eva Yates, director of BBC Film, provided testimony as well. She expressed that the tax credit could have a significant impact and highlighted the potential loss of many skilled individuals in the industry.

I believe there is a sense of urgency in considering this as a potential solution, but it also presents a chance to restore trust in an industry that has faced significant challenges in recent years due to strikes, the impact of Covid, and major shifts in the market.

Yates, the CEO of a publicly-funded company responsible for recent releases such as Rye Lane, One Life, and Aftersun, expressed concerns about the growing resources required to create films. He now spends his time at film festivals meeting with other financiers in an effort to connect them with the British film industry and independent producers. As a result, he no longer has the opportunity to watch films.

She stated that the budget for BBC Film, which is only £11m, has remained unchanged for ten years despite inflation. With that amount, they are able to produce about 15 films annually and also create short films. However, they always collaborate with others and cannot solely finance their projects.

Ollie Madden, the director of Film4, expressed that his company is producing fewer movies than desired, despite being involved in critically acclaimed films like Poor Things and The Zone of Interest. He stated that it has become increasingly challenging to secure private or commercial funding for debut films due to their high level of risk.

He stated that there is a significant desire for British films, but there is a shortage of production. It is important to prevent any gaps in the availability of films.