everal independent Academy AwardÒ and EmmyÒ winning content production companies, distributors, sales agents, and completion guarantors have joined forces to form the American Coalition for Independent Content Production (ACICP) to support the independent content production industry and call on the government to implement urgent funding and support in the face of the new challenges presented by theCOVID-19 pandemic.
The task force includes 25 organizations including; A24, Alcon Entertainment, Amblin Partners, Annapurna Pictures, Avalon, BRON Studios, Endeavor Content, Endless Media, Endurance Media, Film Finances, FilmNation, Gaumont, Le Grisbi, Madrona Drive, Media Guarantors Insurance Solutions, Origin Entertainment, PICTURESTART, Platonic Systems, Skydance Media, UniFi Completion Guarantors, Valence Media (MRC, dick clark productions), Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, wiip, and XYZ Films.
The aim is to secure critical support before the United States risks the permanent loss of productions and the economic and cultural impact they provide.
Film and television production shut down in mid-March in the wake of the outbreak as the country went into lockdown. The pandemic has had a devastating economic impact on the independent content production industry. According to FilmLA, overall production declined 97.8% last quarter compared to last year. A staggering number of cast and crew have lost their jobs or been furloughed, with a projected loss of $30 billion across a large number of small businesses and peripheral industries in the U.S. that productions support. While the impact will be further felt next year, to date there has been at least a 58% drop-off in television pilot orders from 2018 and 2019 along with numerous film and television productions that are unable to complete production this year. Projections indicate that over the next 5 years there will be an additional loss of more than $160 billion of growth within the sector.
The call to government includes solutions and support for current and longer-term challenges including: 1) liability protection that will provide companies with the legal certainty required if they are going to resume production successfully; 2) government assistance that will support business continuity during pandemic emergencies that lead to suspension or abandonment of projects in this very fast-moving volatile industry; 3) grants and long-term low interest loans to get the domestic industry back on its feet; and 4) relief through federal tax incentives to provide more capital to help businesses recover from the COVID-19 shut down, along with incentives to bring productions back to the US.
Valence Media Chief Business Officer Scott Tenley commented: “The film and television industry is facing unprecedented business challenges; our actors, crew members, technicians and other artisans are suffering dire financial implications. In an effort to prevent catastrophic and undue loss to the creative, economic and cultural fabric of our society, we collectively ask Congress to provide urgent support to ensure the survival of these vital organizations and individuals that make up our creative ecosystem.”
Film Finances’ President Gregory Trattner added: “Production companies have been incredibly innovative and collaborative in establishing new protocols to safely produce film and television projects. However, despite these great efforts to provide a safe working environment, there are still several liability, financing and insurance issues hindering the resumption of production in any meaningful way. We are hopeful that Congress can provide the necessary support, as is being developed in other countries, to get the business functioning again and get people back to work.”
Media Guarantors’ CEO and President Fred Milstein echoed the sentiment and adds: “We need a collaborative solution that involves the players in the industry and the government.”
The film and television industry will play a pivotal role in contributing to the worldwide economic recovery- the industry supports approximately 2.5 million jobs annually in the U.S., including approximately 900,000 direct jobs, and pays out approximately $181 billion in total wages. The film and television industry includes over 93,000 small businesses located across the U.S.- it generates approximately $49 billion in annual payments to over 280,000 local business throughout the United States, as well as approximately $242 billion in annual sales and approximately $28 billion in annual public revenues (e.g., sales and state income taxes, and unemployment, Medicare and Social Security revenue) and approximately $16.3 billion in annual exports.