‘We dread the queues at the Border’
Brexit Proof Q&A: Zanzibar Films chief producer Edwina Forkin
Edwina Forkin: “I still can’t believe it, three years on. I wish it wasn’t happening. It’s a logistical nightmare.”
Edwina Forkin is the main producer at Zanzibar Films, an Irish production company which specialises in international co-productions, logistics and legal issues, as well as organising budgeting, funding and production scheduling. As a Section 481 provider, Zanzibar Films offers taxation services to help create advantageous conditions for productions in the Republic.
With more than 20 years of production experience under her belt, Forkin is best known for producing Sanctuary, which won best Irish feature at the Galway Film Fleadh; Royalty Ever After; and the series Jack Taylor with national German television station ZDF.
What was your reaction when you heard that the UK had voted to leave the European Union?
Disbelief. I still can’t believe it, three years on. I wish it wasn’t happening. It’s a logistical nightmare.
How is your business likely to be affected?
I complete around two projects annually in the UK. We have a great relationship with Northern Irish Screen, having recently made a period drama there, and we filmed a travel TV show in the UK for the US market.
No doubt Brexit will lead to more paperwork and extra costs. There will be lots of logistical issues, like car hire. If we hire a car in Dublin to transport cast, equipment and crew to the North or Britain, we would have to drop it off at the Border and pick up a new car rental on the other side, which will be logistically difficult and time-consuming. Those kind of issues, and many others we haven’t even thought of, will arise.
How much do you rely on raw materials or markets north of the Border? And how much on Britain?
A lot. I get a lot of film stock from the UK, where we use Kodak labs, camera equipment from Panavision and 24/7, who are headquartered there. The majority of camera stock is held in the UK and shipped to Ireland during busy times.
The main camera companies have outfits in Dublin and would share the stock between the two countries, so Brexit will create problems for sure.
When we make period movies, we get our costumes from bespoke companies also based in the UK. Military costumes, guns and other antique warfare are sourced from Northern Ireland and London. The biggest stockists of period costumes we use are based in Edgware, London.
When Brexit happens, there will be a huge demand for companies in Ireland to offer these bespoke services, so there are opportunities to do something.
When did you begin preparing for Brexit and what contingency plans have you put in place so far?
As yet, I haven’t really. Our business is so nuanced, it’s difficult to get a contingency that will work for all aspects of it. But I have sourced a French lab for my next movie, and camera gear will also be coming from France. As it turned out, it’s much cheaper that way.
Are you examining new markets/suppliers and, if so, how practical is that?
Yes, we are looking at France as our newest neighbour to work with, but language is a huge barrier. We are open to working with other countries in the EU. Germany has been another important country for doing business. I see us forging stronger relationships with Germany for their specialist Arri cameras.
Does Brexit present any opportunities for your business?
Not really. In film, we have a UK/Irish co-production treaty in place which should keep the status quo as is, so I hope for everyone in the business that this stays in place. The sales agents are mainly based in London, but I know a few companies moving to Ireland to keep within the euro zone. As far as cast members go, they will get the same visa treatment as cast members from the US.
When do you expect to be Brexit-ready?
I don’t know if anyone is really Brexit-ready. That’s an elusive objective, but I guess, like everyone else, I just have to roll with it until it happens.
What’s your best/worst-case scenario?
The best scenario is that there will be a deal and things will stay as is; if there is no deal it could be chaos with delays in equipment coming in from the UK and costumes being held up.
Are you stockpiling goods/raw materials?
How might the Irish or British governments, or the EU, help ease the pain of Brexit for your company or sector?
They need to strike a deal as soon as possible. They need to make carnets [international customs documents] and cross-border movement for equipment and goods less cumbersome. We dread the queues at the Border.