UK Tax relief & film development policy penalise the story and script

The UK Government’s (previous and present) tax system effectively penalises the story and the script writers through the decision to remove tax relief from film development budgets in the UK.

The UK film tax relief is available to a Film Production Company (FPC) which is defined as the company responsible for the principal photography and post production of the film and for the completion of the finished film. This puts pressure on UK films and the financiers for films to go into production prematurely to secure funds using the relief as a lever rather than produce well scripted stories which will attract audiences and achieve critical acclaim. To paraphrase what US screenwriter F. Scott Frazier says in an interview on the blog of The Bitter Script Reader: ‘I don’t imagine scripts – I imagine movies when I write’. UK script writers must also research and invest time and expense learning the craft of writing a movie or TV play ‘showing not telling’ a compelling story. For some reason, the UK Government believes script development is bad spend in regards to the UK film tax credit. It does not matter what costs are accrued for the script development as it does not count as spend in the budget so you can’t get the 20% tax credit on pre development spending.  Many of the US film and TV studios know that a good script is absolutely vital to make a good film and it is necessary to provide proper investment in the development of the script because without a great script, the actors and artists have nothing to work from but this is the one area cut out by the UK Government. This blog is not bitter and neither is the Bitter Script Reader whose blog is dedicated to helping people writer better scripts but to invest in UK film without investing in the script is not an investment in making great films – it is making do. In short, this blog believes the present system undermines any investment in the UK film industry per se.

This is an appeal to say that the pre-development script and research should be valued as it is essential to create and see what is on the screen.




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