Danny Perkins, CEO of the British arm of French-owned film company Studiocanal, sees the U.K. decision to leave the European Union, known locally as Brexit, as being one that will hit the U.K.’s independent film sector hardest.
“Everyone [at Studiocanal] was a bit shocked and surprised by it,” Perkins said. “The saddest thing about Brexit is it makes things tougher on the independent sector.”
The most immediate effect of Brexit, he said, has been the drop in the value of the pound, which has fallen by almost 20% to a 30-year low against the dollar. This has a huge impact on U.K. distributors who pay for foreign film acquisitions in dollars and euros, but whose revenue is in pounds.
He added that Studiocanal, owned by French conglomerate Vivendi, would feel less impact from such fluctuations as it buys films for distribution across several countries, and was protected by having a well-resourced corporate parent. He admitted the effects of Brexit would be a “challenge” and would “increase costs” for the U.K. company, but said Vivendi was committed to maintaining its presence in the U.K., and recognized the wealth of creative talent in the country.
In the longer-term, the U.K. film industry faced losing European Union funding across a number of different sectors, including production. He added that those in favor of Brexit had argued that it would give the U.K. more control, but in fact it would have less, as it would have less influence within Europe.
That said, Perkins said creatively the U.K. filmmaking scene seems “vibrant,” pointing to the work of directors like Ben Wheatley, whose latest film “Free Fire” closes the London Film Festival, and producers such as Damien Jones, whose credits include “The Lady in the Van” and “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie.” “You are seeing films that are bold and ambitious, and can reach really big numbers [in the U.K.] and travel beyond,” he said.