Brexit and Its Impact on Photography, Film, and Television

Brexit and Its Impact on Photography, Film, and Television

I'm not sure how many more times I can read the repugnant merging of two disparate words without writing a furious letter to someone, but I'll do my best to soldier on through. For any sentient being, the last few days have been filled with the word "Brexit," more so if you live on this little angry island I inhabit. The reach of the impact of this momentous event is both wide and largely unknown. That said, there's a very real chance it will affect many of us camera folk.

I will precede this article with a disclaimer that both sides of the remain/leave debate ought to have included with nearly everything they uttered: these comments are predictions and given that the circumstances are unprecedented, there's no assurances that they are accurate but rather intelligent guesses.

The times they are a changin'.

There is next to no doubt that TV, film, and equipment manufacturers will be affected by this change; they are large and collaborative industries and even if the hit to the value of the pound is overlooked, the unison of the U.K. and other entities on projects may well become more difficult. This is an observation Emily Buder over at No Film School also makes as one of three predictions of major changes to the film industry as a result of Brexit. The co-production of films mitigates a lot of investment risk inevitable with larger projects through a number of methods, from the obvious to utilizing different countries' tax laws. Buder's second point, the decline of quality and quantity in British cinema, had rather shocking evidence to it: The EU financed (if only in part) 26 films that aired at Cannes this year and has contributed over 100 million euros to the film industry in the last 9 years. Buder's third and final point is with regards to the U.K. as a filming destination. In 2015 37 Hollywood films were shot in the U.K. which is a mutually beneficial arrangement for both Britain and the film industry. With the change in laws, the retraction of EU support and a whole host of other changes to this relationship between the U.K. and cinema, it may not be as effective for production companies to choose Britain as a destination. Michael Ryan, the chairman of the Independent Film and Television Alliance describe Britain's exit from the EU in rather bleak terms:

The U.K. creative sector has been a strong and vibrant contributor to the economy — this is likely to be devastating for us.

— Michael Ryan


The drastic impact on film is one thing, but what about us photographers? How are we affected? Well, as is a theme with anything on this subject as I have made clear, it's all very much conjecture but worrying nevertheless. Canon Inc. Chief Executive Fujio Mitarai was "very dismayed" by Britain's exit from the European Union and as Europe made up around 28 percent of Canon's sales in 2015, you can imagine why.

In Japan, while we can expect to see a temporary surge in the value of the yen, the U.K.'s decision could also bring a halt to the economic recovery that had been underway... We look to the Japanese government to implement strong monetary measures.

— Fujio Mitarai

​Canon is not alone on fearing what Brexit might mean for them and Britain's involvement in the technology industry is likely to change and, worryingly, change begets change. Juniper Research found through a survey of U.K. tech employees that 65 percent believed Brexit will have a negative impact on the global tech industry. Furthermore, 70 percent predicted that it would be harder for U.K. technology firms to attract and employ individuals from other European countries. The bad news doesn't stop there either. With the sharp drop in value of the pound, prices may change and one of the first to observe that were Hasselblad.

Hasselblad X1D

No sooner have we been introduced to Hasselblad's medium format, mirrorless point-and-shoot styled creation, their Chief Executive Perry Oosting told Amateur Photographer that the eye-watering price (albeit less eye-watering than we are used to with their products) may have to go up.

We live in a very transparent world. We live in a global world. People are very flexible. Purchases are done sometimes in home markets, sometimes abroad. We try to get one global pricing that is very similar from country to country. So, you need to try to achieve the best possible global pricing model. Now, that’s not always possible because of fluctuations in currencies... we need to see how the pound is doing, of course. We have a price point, and if [a change in the pound] is really going to make a difference then we probably have to adjust the price point. Sometimes you make currency gains, because of fluctuations.

— Perry Oosting

​We are in a time of uncertainty, that's for sure, but one can only hope photography and videography isn't impacted as drastically as reports might suggest. However, it's not all doom and gloom. Time Warner released a statement regarding the referendum and its impact on one crucial matter:

We do not anticipate that the result of the EU referendum will have any material effect on HBO producing 'Game of Thrones.'

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john strand's picture

somehow the British Empire managed to survive for over a thousand years before they joined the EU. I imagine that somehow, some way they'll manage to do so after they leave. They can take after Norway & Switzerland who aren't in the EU and yet both are amongst the most advanced countries, socially and economically, in the world.

Scott Free's picture

Problem is that the EU will have to make an example of Britain to dissuade other countries from leaving en masse. They will seek to make them hurt.

Scott Free's picture

They chose not to stay loyal, they have to punish that or they break down anyway.

Graham Taylor's picture

How will they plan on making an example? If the EU impose economic sanctions against a country they rely on trading with, then they really will be cutting their nose off to spite their face. Many of the key member states in the EU have economies that are on the verge of collapse - huge unemployment in Spain, France in a constant recession, Italy and Portugal relying on bailouts - bailouts given to them currently by the UK and Germany. Germany now has to foot that bill alone as well as take care of their own noble commitment to the 'migrant crisis'.

For the EU to work, it needs companies to trade with the UK and in turn it needs to trade with the UK as well to make up some of the huge holes in their cash flow that are inbound.

Stefan Nilsson's picture

That's a lot of words to say "we don't know".

Michael Rapp's picture

Myself living on the european continent, I watched the british brexit referendum with bemusement.
Whatever path our friends from the island may chose to travel, a "Rule Bitanica" won't be by the roadside.
The benefits from being part of the EU remain well hidden beneath the surface, not obvious in everyday life.
Like oil and grease in your car's engine- you only notice it when you don't have any left.
Please, don't get me worng - I'm not singing all praises and glories to the EU, there is a lot of room left for improvements. Lots.
Sadly, I think a lot of the nay- sayers are about to get cold feet and having second thoughts about the deeper levels of disadvantages they're about to hand over to their children and grandchildren.
I so much do hope that I'm wrong about that.

Graham Taylor's picture

Odd that you would mention oil - currently at its lowest price per barrel since around 2008 and a product that typically we get from outside the EU.

Ralph Hightower's picture

I don't know what Brexit means for the future of photographic film. The UK Kodak pension group bought the non-motion film rights of Kodak film and that is Kodak Alaris.
Kodak produces great films while Fuji, in Japan, has been shedding films from their product line. Kodak has done the same with TMAX 3200 and BW400CN.
I think Ilford is based in the UK; they produce only B&W film.

Will the world of photographic film get smaller? I hope not! My Canon A-1 and F-1N both still work.

Ralph Hightower's picture

I'd have to get another freezer for film. But I think my wife would protest since I would have to hoard film. I have a few rolls of Kodak TMAX 3200 (expired and no longer produced) in the freezer. I prefer TMAX 3200 over Ilford Delta 3200. ISO 3200 films are more susceptible to gamma rays and freezers don't stop that.
I have a dorm-sized frig for beer and film. My wife bought me a 5D III to prevent me from burning through film, but I enjoy using my A-1 and F-1N along with my 5D.
I'll have to see how "Brexit" plays out. On the first day of shock that Britain actually voted to leave the EU, my IRA dropped in value by 3%. After the financial panic, things may stabilize.

Ralph Hightower's picture

This was a conversation that I had with my wife in July 2013: "KEH has a used Canon F-1 with some accessories for $400." She asked "Is that their flagship model?" I said :Yes, for the 80's." She said "Buy it." I can share lenses that I've gotten for my 36 year old A-1 with the F-1N.

Early one morning in December 2013, she was surfing the web on my computer. She asked "What do you think of this deal?" "You buying me a 5D III?" She answered "Yes". I said "Go for it! But let me check B&H". I found a similar package for $500 less at B&H. I talked her out of buying me a DSLR in 2011 when I found that her budget was a T3i; I figured that it would be the last DSLR that I would own and I wanted one more features and also full frame since I was coming from 35mm film. As a consolation for Christmas 2011, she bought me a used FD 28mm f2.8.

Scott Free's picture

So you are suggesting that the American film and tv industry should cast yanks to portray poms? Believe it or not, not everything in the world revolves around the USA...

Scott Free's picture

you cast the best person for the role, so you do the best thing for the story, unless you're a closet racist, in which case, screw your film project or tv show.

Scott Free's picture

I wasn't labeling you personally racist, i was speaking generally regarding producers/directors. My point is that american film and television is consumed worldwide and if you care about quality, you find the best possible person for the role in order to tell the best possible story to produce the best possible product, regardless of their background.

Scott Free's picture

You're working on the assumption that a characters nationality is the single most important trait necessary for their depiction. If they can find an actor who has name value and they feel can accurately portray an overwhelming majority of that characters traits and better for their purposes than any american who has attended castings, then the nationality maybe worth giving up to hire someone who can better portray the character but isn't the same nationality.

Remember we're not talking about exporting jobs en masse to third world countries for a 1/10th of the pay, we are talking work that is being giving to actors who invariably have to spend most of their time living, working and paying tax in america

Scott Free's picture

That includes the reverse scenario. No reason not to cast an american as a brit in a modern crime story, because the accent is probably less important to the character.

However, in a period drama, the authenticity of british accent maybe of a higher value.

Deleted Account's picture

More important than some of the funding issues and potential economic impact, how will this ultimately affect those European photographers living and working in the UK and those of us with British passports who happen to be lving somewhere else in Europe?

Henry Canyons's picture

Switzerland is not part of the EU and is doing fine. Britain simply has voters who are upset with Brussels and who can blame them? The elitist EU is run like a dictatorship forcing unpopular immigration and economic policies on all members at a time when deficits to GDP is going the wrong way due to aging populations expecting government pensions. The referendum is non-binding and no one is going to pull the trigger right away since that would be political suicide.