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Brexit Is ‘Likely To Be Devastating’ For Film And Television Industry In The U.K.

CREDIT: HELEN SLOAN/HBO
CREDIT: HELEN SLOAN/HBO

The night is dark and full of terrors: Though some are already expressing buyers’ remorse and/or frantically Googling to find out what, exactly, they just signed up for, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. The vote could still be blocked or overturned — “no backsies” is apparently not a policy on the other side of the Atlantic — but such a move seems unlikely, even after the resignation of Prime Minster David Cameron, who right now must be casting his gaze forlornly into the middle distance like Ben Affleck on the Batman v. Superman press tour.

Friday morning, Michael Ryan, the chairman of the Independent Film and Television Alliance (IFTA), the trade association representing companies behind independent film and TV worldwide, said the Brexit is “likely to be devastating” for the creative sector, Variety reports.

In a statement, Ryan described the decision as “a major blow to the U.K. film and TV industry”:

Producing films and television programs is a very expensive and very risky business and certainty about the rules affecting the business is a must. This decision has just blown up our foundation — as of today, we no longer know how our relationships with co-producers, financiers and distributors will work, whether new taxes will be dropped on our activities in the rest of Europe or how production financing is going to be raised without any input from European funding agencies.

The U.K. creative sector has been a strong and vibrant contributor to the economy — this is likely to be devastating for us.

In May, nearly 300 prominent actors, musicians, filmmakers, writers, dancers, and other artists signed a letter organized by the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign, urging voters to remain in the E.U. Backers included Keira Knightley, Benedict Cumberbatch, Vivienne Westwood, and Sir Patrick Stewart.

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“Britain is not just stronger in Europe, it is more imaginative and more creative, and our global creative success would be severely weakened by walking away,” the letter read. “Leaving Europe would be a leap into the unknown for millions of people across the UK who work in the creative industries, and for the millions more at home and abroad who benefit from the growth and vibrancy of Britain’s cultural sector.”

And back in April, shadow culture secretary Maria Eagle warned that the Brexit would result in “a huge bearing on arts and creative sectors.”

“Putting up barriers between people only hinders the cross-border collaboration that makes the arts and culture sectors in the U.K. as vibrant as they are,” she said during a debate at the British Library sponsored by the Creative Industries Federation. “In what way could the creative industries possibly benefit by reducing their abilities to share ideas and talent?”

Creative industries, she went on, create jobs at twice the rate of the economy; the sector is worth more than $120.8 billion to the U.K. That’s 84 billion pounds, over 5 percent of the total British economy, she said, and makes up a significant chunk of the U.K.’s total export. “Losing access to that could only be bad. Creative industries can’t relocate and still create British content unlike some other industries. They have to be here.”

The U.K. Voted To Leave The European Union. What Happens Next?World by CREDIT: Mary Turner/Pool via AP The U.K. voted to leave the European Union by a vote of 51.9 percent on…thinkprogress.orgAside from those big-picture implications — creative isolationism, disappearing jobs and opportunities — some beloved shows rely on the U.K.’s membership in the E.U. to make filming on location feasible. To bring it all back to the first line of this story, one of Game of Thrones’ primary filming locations is Northern Ireland, thanks, in part, to support from the European Regional Development Fund, which was created to fuel economic growth across the E.U.

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Voyages to Winterfell are pricey; if the U.K. is no longer part of the E.U., productions that shoot in the former probably won’t be eligible for funding from the latter. Farewell, big-budget Battle of the Bastards shoots!

Peter Chase, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States’ Brussels office, told Foreign Policy that Brexit “absolutely” would put financing for Game of Thrones and other productions at risk. “It might be up in the air for U.S. studios who want to film in the U.K. There are E.U. programs to help fund all of this. If the U.K. is no longer part of the E.U., that has the potential to go away.”

Also at risk: Projects that rely on money from Creative Europe, which has doled out $32 million over the last seven years for media and cultural endeavors, including Oscar-nominated feature films Carol and Brooklyn, as well as the Oscar-winning documentary about Amy Winehouse, Amy.