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The British Film Institute has unveiled some impressive statistics from the Film and TV Production Restart Scheme, the groundbreaking emergency £500 million ($647 million) insurance fund launched by the U.K. government last summer to help get the country’s indie sector moving out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the BFI, since the scheme opened in late July 2020, it has backed some 640 film and TV projects that have gone into production in the U.K., with total budgets hitting £1.9 billion ($2.64 billion) and more than 55,000 screen sector jobs supported.
Among those to have been assisted by the scheme are high-profile shows, including Gentleman Jack and Peaky Blinders, and features such as Mothering Sunday, the period drama starring Josh O’Connor, Olivia Colman, Colin Firth and Odessa Young that had its world premiere in Cannes earlier this month. Terence Davies’ Benediction, starring Jack Lowden and Peter Capaldi, and recently announced for both the San Sebastian and Toronto International Film Festival, was also supported.
The scheme — which was officially launched on July 28 last year after months of discussions with the industry — was aimed at solving one of the biggest issues coming out of the pandemic, with many independent projects unable to get the necessary insurance due to fears of Coronavirus-related delays and interruptions such as illness amongst key cast and crew. The fund has since been kept under review as the sector has recovered from the impact of the pandemic and was extended until the end of this 2021.
“The pandemic brought production to a halt early last year and unable to restart without insurance cover against potential COVID disruption, however the government’s Film & TV Production Restart Scheme has been a game-changer for the industry’s recovery,” said BFI CEO Ben Roberts. “A year down the line we are looking at a booming sector attracting further commercial investment and opportunities for more jobs and contributing to the UK’s economy.”
Statistics support Roberts’ enthusiasm and indicate the impressive results of the scheme. Official figures from the BFI — which includes studio investments alongside those from the indie sector — show that total spend on film and high-end TV in the first quarter of 2021 topped $1.2 billion, up 11 percent from 2020 and the highest first-quarter amount on record. Despite it starting with a lengthy period of inactivity as studios were shuttered, the 12 months from April 2020 to March 2021 were just 18 percent down compared to the year prior, hitting $4.15 billion.
“At a time when U.K. TV and film productions were looking as if they would never get back to work, the government’s Film & TV Production Restart Scheme provided the critical business support for the sector, enabling them to start or re-start their productions, keeping people in jobs and getting new content on UK screens,” said John McVay, CEO of trade body Pact, which spearheaded the talks that resulted in the scheme last year.
“Productions across the UK play an important role in the wider economy too, providing income for locations, catering companies, transport firms and many more. So the scheme’s benefits extend beyond just our sector.”
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