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Creating & maintaining a British production studio: can it be done?

Essentially I'm talking about a company with the ability to source scripts, raise £5-15 million, shoot and release and repeat it over and over. Enough to generate a "slate" where releases for the next 5 years can be planned. The UK is crying out for this! I know that Goldcrest Films was an example that went wrong, but is having a kind of resurgence, but it only exists as a financing arm.

Why is it so hard to source financing? Most of British movies have to be made through TV funding, Government tax breaks, Euro tax breaks and co-productions. Every 18 months the government of the day changes UK film tax breaks putting lots of UK films in problems. Why do we have to rely on the Government?

The majority of action, sci-fi and thriller films made in London are using American cash, yet we can just about to afford to film people driving down a street!

  • Look at GSP Studios in York. They produced 8 (or thereabouts) 7-figure features this year, including the last one I worked on. They have the economy of scale for production fees, financial track record, etc. They are growing and growing their facilities, and actually get films made - lots of them. They are a studio much as Ealing was. There is a British film industry!

    The tax credits are pretty much what means there is a British film industry at all, though, and they're hardly new. There are hardly any other industries backed to such a huge extent by government subsides, we need to be grateful and embrace them. They're really easy to get, you'll be hard pressed to make a film in the UK that isn't eligible. Only thing is they're there to make an industry, to make films with commercial potential, things that will get sold, and so there's a natural barrier to entry (and it is VERY low) that you need a limited company UPV.

    Bond is a British franchise, one of the biggest movie brands in the world. Avatar was part financed by Ingenuous, based out of London. The big, big movies are international affairs by their nature - sometimes money just comes from the US, but I'll bet you find far more complex funding mechanisms if you dig. Pre-sales, cash flows, product placements, etc are all a part of it. Study the end credits, you'll see even Hollywood blockbusters will have French money, for instance. The only thing you can rely on is that the finance for any movie is more complex than most people can possibly understand.

    Is any of that any help? :)

    2 years ago
  • Any successful studio will start from modelling the revenue streams and working backwards.

    Since this involves a lot of unknowns you need to apply portfolio theory, and that basically says "don't start a studio unless you can be sure of making several films". (Actually it says "if you start a studio with one film, you are indulging in a flat out gamble").

    So, look not at what a film might cost to make. Look at what you can reasonably expect to make from a movie and then work out what you can afford to spend on it.

    Investors love to see that people have done their math. They will do the math. It's what they are good at.

    Watch Seduced and Abandoned.

    2 years ago
  • I'm not convinced the UK really is crying out for a studio that tries to operate a kind of self-contained movie industry. The production industry is increasingly globalised, regardless of budget, and finding funding and support from multiple sources (often foreign) is the norm.

    The UK film industry is arguably far more successful as a service sector for Hollywood. Last year, about 85% of the money spent on film production in the UK came from foreign sources (usually Hollywood spending money on US movies in and around London). That's largely due to the fact that the UK has one of the most generous filming incentives in the world.

    The UK industry doesn't have to 'rely' on the government, but government support is a big help. Financing is hard because filmmaking is such an inherently risky business - it's extremely easy to lose money. But there are still lots of great British films being made, just not from one single studio production base. That's not necessarily a bad thing, given that production is flourishing.

    2 years ago
  • What Paddy said.

    You're probably not old enough to remember Polygram filmed Entertainment. They were hugely successful. They aren't around any longer because a lightbulb company bought them, and didn't know what to do with a film arm. The U.K can and does make many quality films. It may not be through a single studio, but who cares? As long as they get made.

    Millenium Film studios just shut down here. They were based out of Louisiana. Why are they gone, literally overnight? Because the idiot governor of that state cut the tax incentive program. Be careful, U.K.!

    2 years ago
  • I think that what you are talking about, and what I have gleaned from a number of your posts, is that you are expecting, or wanting, a 'Hollywood' style industry in England.

    This will never happen for a number of reasons that have been discussed over and over here on SP. If you want that type of franchise movie making, then you need to head over the pond, or... bring Hollywood money here.

    HW money does come here, lots of it, and they make a lot of movies. Pinewood is always full of productions from the HW and are so busy that they are finally getting to expand to cope with productions. In fact when I was at Shepperton about 80% of my work came from passing trade on HW projects and kept us for a long time.

    But I think that you will find that there are a lot of UK producers who do what you say, just not with bricks and mortar wrapped around it in the form of a studio. They raise $1-$30m and have a slate of projects. If you knew anything about being a producer, you'd know that all producers have a slate of projects. No one survives on single films, ever.

    So to be honest I'm not sure what the question is... I know you 'asked' - "Creating & maintaining a British production studio: can it be done?" But you know it has and can be done! I think what you're really asking is, "Can you do it?" and the answer is... can you?

    2 years ago