'Silver Haze'

Source: Viking Film

‘Silver Haze’

A sense of optimism has replaced the despondency that wracked the UK production sector last year, following the US strikes that meant the territory’s studios fell virtually silent with little sign of local film stepping into the breach.

In March, the UK government provided their biggest boost to independent producers with the introduction of a 53% expenditure credit (representing a tax relief of approximately 40%) for feature productions with a budget up to $19m (£15m). Films that have started production on or after April 1, 2024 are eligible for the new Independent Film Tax Credit (IFTC) and will be able to submit a claim from April 1, 2025.

On May 22, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a UK general election for July 4. Any change in government is not expected to affect IFTC, which has cross-party support and has moved onto the statute books.

IFTC, for which Pact, the BFI and others have spent more than seven years fighting, is also available for co-production, and there are clear signs producers from Germany, the Netherlands and France are now considering film shoots in and with the UK.

“There is a strong signal now coming out of the UK,” says producer Jonas Dornbach of Berlin-­based Komplizen Film. “We already have a project that we are now co-­producing with the UK.”

Dutch producer Marleen Slot has made two films in the UK, Dirty God and Silver Haze, both directed by Sacha Polak and co-produced by Mike Elliott of London-based EMU Films. Slot and Polak are now working on a horror film called Haunted Heart — it could be set anywhere but Slot is seriously considering a return to the UK.

“The 40% tax credit certainly makes the UK more attractive as a co-production [partner],” agrees leading German producer Philipp Kreuzer, CEO of Maze Pictures.

In 2016, Maze worked with UK partners BBC Film and Lionsgate UK on Rupert Everett’s Oscar Wilde biopic The Happy Prince. It shot mainly in Germany and Belgium, only doing some of its post-­production in London. “We would have considered doing more in the UK if the [40%] tax credit was available [then],” admits Kreuzer.

Dornbach makes the same point about Pablo Larrain’s 2021 Princess Diana film Spencer. This was quintessentially British material, produced by the UK’s Shoebox Films, and yet shot largely in Germany. Production decisions on the film were affected by Covid but Dornbach makes the point that “much more” of the film could have shot in the UK had the 40% incentive been in place.

Producers do not seem unduly worried about costs or competition for crew. “In all the other countries, whether it’s Hungary, Austria or Germany, all the wages went up due to the pandemic, inflation and so on,” notes Dornbach. “It’s not such a big difference between Germany and the UK.”

However, snags remain. Post-Brexit, the UK is not part of Eurimages, and is outside Creative Europe Media. And countries such as Greece and Italy have increased their own tax credits to 40% to woo international co-­productions.

French producer Philippe Carcassonne, who has worked with UK partners including David Parfitt on productions such as The Father, cautions co-­producing with the UK will still be more complex than, say, working in Belgium “where there is no requirement to go through a co‑­production treaty”.

Carcassonne, who has “a couple of films that could be done under the UK-France treaty”, acknowledges the IFTC will “facilitate the financing of films we are already contemplating doing with our British friends… I don’t think it will make us change the content or location of a film.”


It is less than two months since the IFTC was announced by UK prime minister Rishi Sunak, but films are already being greenlit or coming back to the UK explicitly stating the IFTC as the reason. AGC Studios was one of the first to do this, relocating Rowan Athale’s boxing drama Giant, starring Amir El-Masry and Pierce Brosnan, from Malta to the UK. The feature is also produced by UK outfit Tea Shop Productions.

Producer Ivan Mactaggart of Cambridge Picture Company says he is ripping up his schedule and planning anew. “Prior to the announcement, I would only shoot things in the UK if I absolutely had to. Now, after the announcement, I will only shoot things elsewhere if I absolutely have to.” He is working on Humanoid, a $12.5m (£10m) sci-fi project he was planning to make in Ireland and post-­produce in Belgium. Now the project is 100% financed and will be filmed on home shores.

“The market is very difficult and so the first thing any of us is doing is looking at how much we can take the edge off this with soft money,” Mactaggart says

Veteran UK producer Simon Perry, a senior consultant at ACE Producers and former chief executive at public funder British Screen, has long been encouraging UK filmmakers to explore European partnerships.

“The biggest change recently with regard to the UK being a destination for co-production has been the UK Global Screen Fund,” he suggests. “That has made a real difference as it’s the first money in almost 25 years that the British system has had on offer to incoming co-­productions.”

The number of minority UK co-­productions has leapt up since this BFI-administered fund was launched three years ago. The fund has supported recent features such as Laszlo Nemes’ Orphan and Danish director Max Kestner’s Life And Other Problems, which opened CPH:DOX in March. The fund has limited resources but, says Perry, it has already “opened the eyes of people overseas to the fact Britain was much more welcoming and could offer something much more tangible to an incoming production”.

But it is the IFTC that is cutting through to international producers. Nicky Bentham, founder of Neon Films, with credits including The Duke, says her European colleagues are “beginning to notice the UK tax credit is really competitive”.

“It was difficult to see why you would choose to come here when across Europe there are much more generous incentives,” she says, adding that way of thinking has already changed.

“The bottom line,” says Carcassonne, “is that [the IFTC] will make some films easier to get fully financed and it will enhance the global relationship between France and the UK and between the UK and any other involved countries.”