Private Viewing: British film industry booming as the awards season takes off

Eddie Redmayne poses for a portrait during the 87th Academy Awards nominees luncheon. The British ac

Eddie Redmayne poses for a portrait during the 87th Academy Awards nominees luncheon. The British actor is favourite to take the Best Actor Oscar. - Credit: John Shearer/Invision/AP

Britain’s film studios have never been busier. Arts editor Andrew Clarke says creativity is important to our economy

The Star Wars sequels are all being shot in Britain and special-effects company Industrial Light and

The Star Wars sequels are all being shot in Britain and special-effects company Industrial Light and Magic have opened a UK base here as production continues to thrive.

And the winner is... the British film industry. Last weekend’s BAFTA ceremony illustrated quite nicely how successful British movie-making is at the moment. I’m sure that next week’s Oscars announcement will merely confirm what we all ready know; that film-making in the UK is in rude health.

It’s not just the classic novel adaptations like Testament of Youth or the biographical dramas like The Imitation Game or The Theory of Everything which form an important part of the awards season and British film-making but it’s the international co-productions like Star Wars and the family films like Shaun the Sheep and Paddington which proves that we are producing a wide-range of films which cater to a broad spectrum of audiences.

Part of the attraction to film-makers and to financiers is a new 20-25% tax break offered to productions with a budget of £20million or more. But this tells only part of the story. The major draw is the skill-set that we can provide. The British film industry can supply everything a visiting production needs. We have studio facilities to rival anything Hollywood can offer and the crews to match. In fact you are just as likely to find British writers, producers, directors, cameramen, wardrobe and make-up teams working in California as you are at Pinewood.

British film-making talent has a brilliant reputation for both innovation and reliability – two key ingredients in any creative industry.

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These factors combine to provide the substance behind the latest figures released by the BFI (British Film Institute) this week. In a press release, timed to piggy-back on the euphoria surrounding this year’s BAFTAs, the BFI announced that last year film production in the UK brought more than £1.4billion into the British economy.

This is a 35% increase on the previous year and it is the highest production revenue since they started tracking production income in the early 1990s. Among the mid-range home-grown movies like The Theory of Everything are a glut of big budget blockbusters like the latest instalment in the James Bond franchise, Spectre, Mission Impossible 5 and Joe (Atonement) Wright’s fantasy epic Pan as well as re-vamped Star Wars trilogy.

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All three Star Wars movies are bring produced in Britain, as were their predecessors. The growth of the special-effects industry in the UK has also led to Industrial Light and Magic setting up a UK-based satellite operation here.

Other blockbusters in the pipeline are the new Avengers movie and Tim Burton’s Alice Through The Looking Glass. Burton has had a long history of shooting movies in Britain dating all the way back to the Batman movies in the mid-1980s.

All this activity bodes well for the future and was echoed by the BAFTAs where the Brits emerged with their heads held high. It wasn’t just the fact that Eddie Redmayne and The Theory of Everything carried off the Best Actor and Best British Film prizes but we had people like Benedict Cumberbatch and Felicity Jones in the running, along with the Alan Turing bio-pic The Imitation Game but we also picked up plenty of technical awards.

I got the feeling this year that BAFTAs also provided a dress rehearsal for the Oscars. You couldn’t complain about any of the winners. I think that Julianne Moore and JK Simmons are certainties for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor. I think Richard Linklater will win Best Director for Boyhood and Patricia Arquette will carry off the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

The only areas of uncertainty relate to Best Film and Best Actor. Boyhood looks likely to carry off Best Picture because not only is it an excellent film but it took the cast 12 years to make. Having said that it faces a possible last minute challenge from The Theory of Everything and Birdman, which has been an audience and critics favourite in the USA.

Eddie Redmayne looks almost certain to repeat his BAFTA Best Actor win at the Oscars but again may face a last-minute challenge from Michael Keaton for Birdman. The film has been wildly successful in the States and many critics have sentimentally viewed Keaton’s character as being somewhat autobiographical. But, if there’s justice, Redmayne should carry off the trophy for his remarkable performance as physicist Stephen Hawking.

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