Brexit countdown: UK VFX powerhouse at risk, say leading post houses

Screen | 2/15/2019 | Staff
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Deal or no deal, the UK visual effects sector is facing almost certain loss of mid to long-term competitiveness under the high costs and red tape of visa proposals post-Brexit.

“London’s position as a European powerhouse is at risk,” warned Framestore CEO and co-founder William Sargent. “We are a centre of excellence but if barriers are erected then other clusters in other cities will emerge.”

Antony - Hunt - CEO - Cinesite - Group

Antony Hunt, CEO of the Cinesite Group, said, “We will always benefit from highly-skilled overseas artists with the knowledge they bring and share. It’s vital the UK’s post-Brexit visa policy takes this into account, so we can remain globally successful. If the government gets this wrong, it wouldn’t take long for our hard-won VFX work to drift away to other countries where the labour costs are less prohibitive.”

The VFX and animation industry is particularly sensitive to changes in immigration policy with a third of the 6,000 artists employed at UK houses from the EU or European Economic Area (excluding UK and Ireland) and 13% from the rest of the world.

Framestore - VFX - Work - Films - Effects

Framestore, which did VFX work on two of the films nominated for the best visual effects Oscar (Avengers: Infinity War and Christopher Robin, and whose art department worked on Ready Player One) employs over 1,000 staff in London, including 300 representing every member state.

While recruitment is not expected to fall off a cliff after March 29, a ‘no deal’ scenario “creates difficult and potentially impossible obligations on employers when checking documentation for the right to work,” according to trade body UK Screen Alliance, as EU passports are not stamped on entry to the UK.

Worker - Visa - January - Cause - Concern

However, it is the proposed new skilled worker visa, due to be introduced January 2021, that remains the major cause of concern for VFX companies.

“The costs are expected to be severe,” said Neil Hatton, CEO...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Screen
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