640 film and TV productions have gone into production in the UK in the past 12 months thanks to the Government’s Film and TV Production Restart Scheme with budgets for these productions totalling £1.9 billion of production investment.

More than 55,000 screen sector jobs have been supported by the scheme since cover began with its announcement on 28 July 2020.

The scheme was launched by the Government, backed by £500m to support films and television productions which were ready to start or restart, but unable to secure insurance against potential Coronavirus-related delays and interruptions such as illness amongst key cast and crew.

Launched for registrations in October last year, allowing claims backdated to July, the scheme has enabled productions to get off the ground in the second half of 2020. It has helped the sector to bounce back and record the second highest spend (£1.19 billion) for any quarter on record, at the end of last year.

The scheme has been kept under review as the sector has recovered from the impact of the pandemic and was extended to provide cover until the end of this year as part of the Budget.

Other measures have also played a part in the sector being able to make a confident recovery. Detailed COVID-19 health and safety guidance for film and high-end television drama production, other types of television programmes and for post-production/VFX was developed by the industry, as part of the BFI’s Screen Sector Task Force and supported by the Government.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “I’ve seen first hand how this scheme has been a lifeline during this pandemic, keeping the cameras rolling on TV and film sets across the country, and supporting tens of thousands of jobs in the process – from actors, make-up artists and technicians all the way to catering companies and transport firms. “Thanks to this scheme, our screen industry is raring to go -– and British-made productions will be at the heart of our recovery.”

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said: “Our world-leading film and TV industry supports hundreds of thousands of jobs – that’s why it was so important we helped it to get up and running again as part of our Plan for Jobs. ..It’s great that one year on since its launch the Restart Scheme has given so many productions the confidence to keep shooting, supporting jobs across the UK and producing the film and TV we all love.”

Several productions registered with the scheme have returned or are returning to our screens shortly, including The Bay, Midsomer Murders, Peaky Blinders and Gentleman Jack. The film Mothering Sunday starring Odessa Young, Josh O’Connor, Olivia Colman and Colin Firth has just had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Boxing Day, the UK’s first ever festive romantic comedy starring an all-black cast were films which registered early with the scheme. Terence Davies’ Benediction starring Jack Lowden and Peter Capaldi has just been announced for screening at the San Sebastian and Toronto International Film Festival, both taking place in September.

“As we all learn to operate in a world where COVID continues to subsist, the Restart Scheme has become a pillar upon which the future success of the sector rests,” says Hakan Kousetta, co-founder and joint Managing Director of 60Forty Films and Chair of the Pact Council. “Hopefully its incredible effectiveness makes it a no-brainer for the Government to continue to operate the scheme in the future.”

In addition to the Film and TV Production Restart Scheme, the screen industry has also benefitted from £27.6 million of support to independent cinemas through the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

Jon Creamer

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