UK manufacturers await the insurance scheme, but still need EU approval

The UK film and TV production restart program will not be open to applications until it has obtained EU state aid approval, a process that is still ongoing, with no clear date. end in sight.

“I was hoping it would be several weeks ago, I hope it is tomorrow, but I don’t know,” said John McVay, CEO of Pact of the British producer organization. Variety on Thursday.

As the scheme remains in limbo, the European Union Commission is planning legal proceedings against the UK for breaching its obligations under the EU Withdrawal Agreement. However, it is unclear whether this initiative will impact the fund in any way.

The £ 500 million ($ 644 million) scheme is designed to help UK productions that have been suspended and are unable to secure insurance in the future, or have yet to run due to lack of insurance, but may start principal photography before the end of the year.

“We pushed for the draft guidelines to be published sooner than perhaps the government wanted, because we wanted the market to understand what the fund’s request entailed, how it was structured and what you would have to pay, so that people could plan it while they were staying. restoring production, or if they were already in production, what should they have started to do to gather the evidence required to be eligible for the fund. ” McVay said.

“We push for further information to be made public as soon as the government feels comfortable doing so. I would have released all this much sooner, but I’m not the government, “he continued.

Fund plans – proposals for which they were first revealed by Variety in May – they were officially announced in late July. The terms of the program were unveiled by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in late September. However, producers keen to be reassured about the coverage of their projects are still waiting to apply for the scheme.

“When [Pact] announced the fund, it looked like it would immediately help productions get back on their feet thanks to insurance, and then it felt like a two-month delay in every detail coming up, “complained the CEO of a major production company “I understand that the government is worried elsewhere and doesn’t care about our next series being secured, but with that announcement, the detail hasn’t been put in place until sort of now, and that has caught people off guard. production company “.

Of course, when the program is finally launched, it will be a historic effort by the government. The fund’s £ 500 million ($ 644 million) value exceeds that of the Canadian government-backed insurance scheme, which offers the industry only CAD $ 50 million ($ 38 million).

Since the scheme is taxpayer-funded, however, McVay stressed that “it’s a matter of government.”

“There is a process they have to go through with Brussels to overcome this,” McVay said, while Pact President Sara Geater added that there have been weekly meetings between the trade org and the government, and the parties are communicating. completely.

Under the scheme, if productions are interrupted or postponed due to COVID-19, 20% of the production budget will be reimbursed and, if the productions are abandoned, 70% of the budget, up to a maximum of £ 5 million. ($ 6.48 million), it will be hedged.

For projects with a production budget of £ 30 million ($ 38.9 million) or more, the Business Feasibility Criteria Assessment will be carried out by the DCMS and the eligible entrant will be required to submit additional documentary evidence to the DCMS showing that each the relevant requirements have been met.

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