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The small businesses of show business

Here at O2 business we love a good film. Our favourites are of course The Business and Monkey Business while we’re less keen on Risky Business and Unfinished Business.

Happily, this summer the EU approved Government plans to extend tax breaks for the British film industry meaning it’s a very good time to be working in film. In light of this positive legislation and with the BFI London Film Festival under way, we look at some small businesses working in the British film industry.

What are these tax breaks?

The breaks are applicable to qualifying production companies and mean they could claim tax relief on up to 25% of the cost of production on a film. The Government hopes this will attract more big blockbusters to the UK and this can only mean good things for the small businesses working in the industry.

In a recent interview, Amanda Nevill, chief executive of the BFI suggested these tax breaks would help to create jobs and opportunities within the thriving UK film industry.

The small businesses

The small businesses operating in the British film industry go way beyond just the production companies that make the films. Every film is the result of a collaborative process between many small businesses from agent to make-up artist to caterer. We spoke to some of these to find out what life’s like out of the limelight:

The agent

Claire Anderton works for talent agency Katie Threlfall Associates, representing actors across film, TV, theatre and radio. She believes the film industry is a great place for small businesses to thrive: “From our perspective, we benefit from being smaller as it ensures a close relationship with our clients which is important for building and nurturing their careers successfully. Speaking more broadly, the film industry thrives on ingenuity and small businesses – it’s a great environment for creative and entrepreneurial thinkers.”

Claire commented on how technology has transformed her role: “The advancement of technology has had a huge impact. For example, using just a smartphone, actors can now do self-taped auditions from wherever they are in the world and audition over Skype. It makes us all international.

“Twitter is remarkable really; immediately you have a captive audience and that’s a very powerful resource for a small business.  It is also amazing that someone high profile and influential can now be reached via a short tweet.  Obviously you need to be wise with social media, especially if you’re a public figure, but on the whole it is fantastic.”

The actor

Ed Caruana is the star of The Hook, a new short film by Nick Flügge, which is winning awards at film festivals up and down the country. When asked if actors qualify as a small business Ed said: “Of course. You’re registered as a company, have to do your own promotion, find work, go to meetings, and you have to do your own bloody accounts!” Ed commented on how small businesses are the lifeblood of the film industry: “Festivals have been so supportive of our film and a lot of these are run by not-for-profit businesses or individuals who simply love film.”

Watch the trailer to see Ed in action below:

The innovators

Undoubtedly the film industry leads the way in certain forms of technology with many big blockbusters doing incredible things with CGI and 3D but what about the small businesses?

OurScreen describe themselves as “a UK based team of film fans” who “want to help you watch more films in the cinema”. They have used tech to embrace the crowdfunding business model so if enough people book tickets to a screening, the screening happens. Their website is a clever online tool that allows you to book tickets and see how many more people need to book in order for the screening to go ahead.


If you love film and have the time, get down to the BFI London Film Festival over the next few days and support the small businesses of show business.

For free, impartial business tech help and advice, why not book a session with an O2 Guru? They’re available online, in store and over the phone.

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