Thursday, December 21, 2006

Testing Times

Interesting piece in The Times today about the new tax breaks that will apparently revive Britain’s film industry.

Typically, the tax relief offered to both local and international filmmakers arrives just as the current exchange rate makes high-budget US spends in the UK unattractive. That however isn’t stopping Walt Disney International from making Prince Caspian in Great Britain.

There is, however, a catch to this atypical generosity from the Treasury. To qualify for the tax relief the filmmakers must pass the so-called Cultural Test for British Films to prove their movie is culturally relevant to Britain. Marvellous.

So here it is: Gordon Brown’s Culture Test for UK Films

Films must score at least 16 out of 31 points to qualify for the tax break.


01. Are the lead characters British?

Four points if two or more of the three lead characters are British citizens or residents. One point if one is.

02. Where is the film set?

Four points if at least 75% of the film is set in Britain.

03. Is the film based on British subject matter?

Four points if it is, or is based on a story by a British citizen or resident.

04. Is the dialogue recorded mainly in English?

Four points if at least 75% is in English; three if 66%, two for 50%; and one point for 25%.


Up to four points for the development and promotion of British culture.

Where is it made?

Up to three points according to how much of the film is made in Britain.


There is one point available if each of the following are from the European Union: the director, scriptwriter, producer, composer, lead actors, key staff, majority of crew.

Right... And following all these guidelines will result in either a garish 90-minute commercial for the English Tourist Board or the kind of irritating little parochial film that doesn't have a hope in hell of getting a distribution deal.


At 12:14 am, Blogger Piers said...


- 4 points if you have two British main characters
- 4 points if the film is set in Britain
- 4 points if the writer is British
- 4 points if it's in English

Now according to my reading, that makes it pretty bloody difficult not to hit 16 points.

I mean, you'd have to try pretty damn hard to write a movie set in the UK and not get this tax break.

And not one single thing about that needs to be parochial. Sure, you can make a parochial film and get the money. But nothing about this particular set of conditions ensures parochialism.

And there's still another 15 points to play with even if you want to get US stars and spend more than 25% of the film blowing shit up in another country.

At 12:36 am, Blogger Good Dog said...

4 points if the film is set in Britain

Well, how many English-speaking films are set in England? Obviously it's to stop productions using the English countryside to stand in for... er, somewhere else.

It looks like an enticing proposition, but I'm sure they'll use it to haggle and fuck over as many productions as they can.

But we do need films that show off England rather than follow knocked-up teens, druggies wasting away in sink-hole housing estates, or awful mockney gangsters.

Or pigeons going bonkers in Trafalgar Square...

At 11:54 am, Blogger Piers said...

I'm so not rising to the bait. :)

As for the rest of them, I'll be happy to never see another British film about a) gangsters b) druggies c) sink estates ever again.


At 12:10 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...


Couldn't agree with you more on that tosh. While The Core was silly beyong belief, I'd prefer to go see that than some UK Film Council funded piece of crap about some knocked-up teenagers and their drug addled fuck buddies.

The only good thing that ever came out of the Guy Ritchie horseshit was Matthew Vaughn going off and making Layer Cake.


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