For those of you who haven’t been following big global news that shook the world, #Brexit happened.
‘Brexit’, as it has become known on news, social media and everywhere else, is the decision of the UK to leave the European Union. This landmark decision was taken off the back of a nationwide referendum that ended with 52% of the UK’s populace who voted to leave the European Union and all the benefits and pitfalls that go with. The UK chose to stop being a part of that economically motivated political coming together of 28 member states in Europe way back in June 2016.
There has been a lot of speculation regarding the potential fall-out of this momentous choice, and a lot of it is conflicting. For example, The Week reports on one hand that “One million EU nationals ‘risk deportation’ after Brexit,” and on the other hand the same publication carries another story, no later than two days after the earlier one with the headline “Brexit ‘may never happen’, claims Polish foreign minister.”
Furthermore, there is even ambiguity about how much time it will take for Brexit to come in effect, currently Britain are still a part of the European union. The actual split is expected to come to fruition in the next 3-5 years based on various reports. What is undeniable is that whenever it does finally happen Brexit will definitely have an impact on all aspect of economy and politics in the UK. The UK’s extensive VFX industry will also be affected by the nation’s choice to leave the EU, as will the entertainment industry as a whole.
Restrictions on movement of labour
One of the biggest advantages that the UK will forego after bowing out from the EU is the free, unrestricted movement of labour among the EU states. Despite noises coming out from political circles in the UK that claim that a deal will be worked out with the EU regarding this, and that the ramifications won’t be as harsh as people are making them out to be, there is no denying that there will be an increase in the restriction of movement for the citizens of the UK to the rest of the EU, after all, you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.
This will definitely affect the visual effects industry. The fluidity with which studios from the UK and Europe current collaborate will take a severe hit. These collaborations help diversify the workforce on large projects and boost the ability for studios to meet deadlines, and will definitely be affected by this move. Furthermore, even the movement of UK-based VFX talent will take a hit. Today, talented VFX artists are engaged by big European firms to fly over and contribute to projects, but in the future, the increased levels of bureaucracy and potential increase in expenditure incurred to make a move like this might just dissuade them from doing so.
Devaluation of currency
The devaluation of the Pound has already begun, and financial experts expect it to stay at this lower value level for a long time to come. The actual split will cause even more financial instability, however, the actual loss of value of the pound could work in the favour of UK based studios.
The lower value of the pound could make these studios an attractive proposition for overseas producers from the US for example in terms of investment and the value they would receive on the favourable exchange rate.
Funding and European Regional Development Fund
The ERDF and other such funding tools have been set up by the EU to help develop certain regions of the union that are falling back economically, and allow small and medium companies access to greater amounts of financing for future ventures.
Post Brexit, VFX companies and film productions from the UK will no longer be allowed to access these funds and swell their coffers. This will of course lead to lower investment and less expansive contracts for VFX artists and companies in the UK.
Removal of restrictions for other subsidies
There are restrictions on subsidies companies from member nations of the EU can offer to clients from outsider countries as of today. Studios from Hollywood for example will always look out for these subsides so that they have a positive effect on their film budgets, but with the restrictions on these subsidies, VFX companies do lose out on contracts. Furthermore, the EU currently reviews subsidies offered on film projects every few years, something that will not be an issue post Brexit.
At Toolbox Studio, an Animation and VFX studio in India, we believe that Brexit will have a palpable impact on the VFX scene in the UK. Whether that is a positive or negative one overall, only time will tell, because by the looks of things, the VFX industry in the UK stands to both lose and gain out of the decision to part ways with the EU.