Toronto 2016: UK film experts upbeat over Brexit

By Tim Masters
Entertainment correspondent in Toronto

Their FinestImage source, HanWay Films
Image caption,
Period comedy drama Their Finest, with Gemma Arterton and Bill Nighy, is among the British films to have their premiere in Toronto

UK film experts are confident that the industry will cope with the impact caused by the vote to exit the EU.

The upbeat message emerged during a special Brexit debate at the Toronto International Film Festival on Friday.

"As an industry we are born problem solvers," said Robbie Allen of Creative Scotland, adding that there was "time to plan" for the "bump in the road".

Isabel Davis, of the British Film Institute, said "nothing changes" until after what would be a long process.

Ms Davis, head of international at the BFI, explained that it had set up a "screen task force" to look at threats and opportunities presented by the result of June's EU referendum.

She said the film industry was keen to preserve its relationship with Europe and that no changes were imminent during the exit process.

"We are talking about a period of time that is going to be rather extended," she said.

"This is a very complicated process, it's a marriage that is going to take quite a lot of time to untangle.

"In the meantime, the key message is nothing changes whatsoever. Until those negotiations are concluded, we are exactly as we have always been."

'Bad dream'

Her assessment was echoed by Oscar-nominated producer Paul Webster, whose credits include The English Patient and Shakespeare in Love.

"I still wake up every morning thinking [the referendum result] was a bad dream," said Mr Webster, who owns Shoebox Films in partnership with director Joe Wright and producer Guy Heeley.

He pointed out that tax credits for film-making and international co-productions would be unaffected by Brexit.

"As a producer about 80% involves working with American companies," he said. "But independent film does rely heavily on European partners - that's the area of key concern."

He said he'd not noticed any change in the amount of private equity being used to fund films.

"We live in a global economy, where there's an enormous amount of money washing around," he noted.

"Europe is not our only partner," added Mr Allen, as the Brexit debate drew to a close.

"It's going to be a bump in the road but it's a bump in the road we can see coming. There's time to plan."

The Toronto Film Festival runs from 8-18 September.