A VFX Supervisor in the UK sent me a study that claimed government support of the UK film industry has boosted revenues, employment, and GDP way beyond the costs of the subsidies themselves. While most media outlets puppet the glowing report, it unfortunately isn’t very “spot on”.
As you have probably read from previous posts, government subsidies pose a huge risk to overseas VFX facilities due to artificial pricing and volatility of job locations for vfx workers. What makes this report incredibly dubious is the fact that it was funded by the UK Film Council. It would be a mistake to think that the very organization that needs government funding the most would release an independent study.
But, it gets worse: On the very first page, the study is supported by UK VFX houses such as Framestore, Double Negative, and Cinesite. These are the very facilities whose studio relationships depend on the subsidies the report supports.
Delving further, questionable statistics are being pulled out of thin air. For example, they claim that the UK film industry has contributed 4.5 Billion dollars to the UK GDP. I contacted the UKFC to ask for the direct source of all the numbers in their report. What was the original source of these numbers? Their response:
We are the original source.
The very films they certified as “UK Films” were actually like The Dark Knight which were financed by the US with some of the work done in the UK or passing some vague cultural test. The numbers themselves are extremely sketchy. How were productions costs calculated? Were the salaries of million dollar actors used to pad the salaries of UK employees and tax revenues? We’ll never know unless an independent study is done but why do the VFX facilities and the UKFC need to release such a glowing report now?
Things aren’t exactly tickety-boo in the UK
With a debt-to-gdp ratio that ranks as one of the industrialized world’s highest, the newly elected Conservative Party in the UK have made it clear that they vow to make huge cuts in the UK government spending. For the UK Film Council, those cuts have already materialized. They are even going after UK film investors. For the VFX facilities, the culling down or total removal of these subsidies most of them were founded upon could mean that studios would be more likely to take their work elsewhere. You live by the subsidy, you die by the subsidy.