Britain has made historical news today by voting in a referendum to leave the European Union, following months of strenuous debate. While politics isn't usually Movie Pilot's bread and butter, there's an angle to Brexit — a portmanteau for British Exit of the European Union — that could clearly have an impact on movies and TV shows as we know them. The cultural subsidies provided by the European Union to international productions such as Game of Thrones, which is currently getting ready for its seventh season, might disappear altogether.
Similarly to The Lord of the Rings trilogy being well-known for its use of gorgeous New Zealand landscapes, HBO's popular Game of Thrones has filmed most of its scenes across Northern Ireland, spending six months there every year. But now that Britain — which involves England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland — has decided to no longer be a part of the European Union, not only could it get more complicated to bring the international cast and crew to the country, but a major funding source might be jeopardized.
Obviously, Game Of Thrones Is Expensive
If you've watched even 10 minutes of the show, you won't be surprised to learn that Game of Thrones is highly expensive to produce. In Season 6, Episode 9, "Battle of the Bastards," the long-awaited battle scene cost more than $10 million alone, taking 25 days to film. Watch the breakdown of the cost in the video above, or click below to see the behind-the-scenes featurette.
The European Union Provides Crucial Support To Cultural Projects
European initiatives, such as the European Regional Development Fund and the Creative Europe program, have invested money for cultural projects to set their development in the European Union. According to The Telegraph, British film and television projects received $32 million in funding from European organizations over the last seven years.
While there's no indication yet as to whether the British government will be able to supply the funding itself, a reshuffle of the sponsors will certainly take time and could lead international productions to seek less financially complicated locations.
The Impact Of Brexit Could Be Devastating For The British Film Industry
Peter Chase, from The German Marshall Fund of the United States' Brussels office, told Foreign Policy ahead of the vote that the results could drive American creative projects away:
“It might be up in the air for U.S. studios who want to film in the U.K. There are EU programs to help fund all of this. If the U.K. is no longer part of the EU, that has the potential to go away.”
Michael Ryan, chairman of the Independent Film & Television Alliance, has gone even further than that, in a statement shared by Variety:
The decision to exit the European Union is a major blow to the U.K. film and TV industry. Producing films and television programs is a very expensive and very risky business and certainty about the rules affecting the business is a must.
This decision has just blown up our foundation — as of today, we no longer know how our relationships with co-producers, financiers and distributors will work, whether new taxes will be dropped on our activities in the rest of Europe or how production financing is going to be raised without any input from European funding agencies.
The U.K. creative sector has been a strong and vibrant contributor to the economy — this is likely to be devastating for us.
British Artists Penned A Letter To Support The 'Remain' Campaign
In the lead-up to the outcome of the vote this morning on June 24, British celebrities took to social media to express their opinion on the Brexit debate (or, at least, to remind their fans to vote). Three-hundred artists, including actors Keira Knightley, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Helena Bonham Carter, and directors Mike Leigh and Danny Boyle, have also penned a letter exhorting British citizens to choose to remain in the European Union, and restating the support provided by European organizations:
Leaving Europe would be a leap into the unknown for millions of people across the UK who work in the creative industries, and for the millions more at home and abroad who benefit from the growth and vibrancy of Britain's cultural sector.
Prime Minister David Cameron, who today announced his resignation following the referendum, supported the letter's message, saying the creative sector needed the inclusion in the European Union.
"More than most, this is a sector that thrives on being open to the world outside. Whether it's bringing in talent, filming on location or simply having access to the single market of 500 million people across Europe."
Northern Ireland's Tourism Industry Has Been Growing Thanks To Game Of Thrones
While the presence of HBO's No. 1 show in Northern Ireland has provided the show with the fantastic locations us viewers get to see each episode, it's also had a great impact on Northern Ireland's tourism. The Guardian reports that the sector is now worth £723 million (about $990 million), partly thanks to the local film industry.
Recently, other movies, such as Carol, Brooklyn and Shaun the Sheep, have also benefited from the European Union's funding, indicating that the feared devastating impact on the creative industry could harm much more than just Game of Thrones.
What are your favorite British movies and TV shows?