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Reference > Media law & regulation > UK media laws > Cinema and film > Films Act 1985

UK media laws: Cinema and films


1985 Chapter 21
An Act to repeal the Films Acts 1960 to 1980; to make further provision with respect to the financing of films; and for connected purposes
[23 May 1985]

This Act repealed the Films Acts 1960 to 1980, abolished the National Film Finance Corporation, the Eady Levy and the British Film Fund Agency that collected it, and government advisory panel the Cinematograph Films Council. It also had the regrettable effect of ending the collection of an extensive data about British film exhibition set that was produced in connection with administering the levy and quota.

1.—(1) Films Acts 1960 to 1980 hereby repealed.
   (2) Cinematograph Films Council abolished.

2.—(1) Definitions
   (2) relating to final levy period under Film Levy Finance Act 1981, starting 14 October 1984, for which minimum levy yield of 2m is cancelled and
   (3) National Film Finance Corporation to receive only a proportion of its 1.5m entitlement.
   (4) Final levy period can be ended before 12 October 1985 by order of the Secretary of State,
   (5) who can also repeal the Film Levy Finance Act 1981 in same order,
   (6) which shall be by Statutory Instrument [see below].

3.—(1) Secretary of State, with Treasury approval, may dissolve National Film Finance Corporation at any time before end 1985 by order and
   (2) any NFFC property, rights or revenue which becomes vested in the Secretary of State may be disposed of 'in such manner as he thinks fit for any purpose connected with the British film industry';
   (3) including giving money to the British Film Fund Agency for distribution (see 4(1) below);
   (4) in the case of rights, this may be to any British company or partnership that
        (a) 'will use its best endeavours to encourage the production of relevant films on a commercially successful basis'; and
        (b) 'is willing and able to make financial facilities available to persons who wish to arrange for the production of relevant films', and which is then free to dispose wholly or partly of those rights and retain any revenue.
   (8) Secretary of State may repeal remaining provisions of National Film Finance Corporation Act 1981 by statutory instrument.

4.—(1) Any money provided to British Film Fund Agency from winding-up of NFFC to be added to funds for final levy payments,
   (2) which may be made later than normally required.
   (4) Any payments unable to be made to claimants before the end of the final distribution period shall be paid to the Secretary of State and dealt with as in 3(2).

5.—(1) After dissolution of the National Film Finance Corporation, the Secretary of State, with Treasury approval, may 'give financial assistance'
   (a) to any British company or partnership as described in 3(4), or
   (b) 'to any person—
        (i) for the purpose of enabling projects to be prepared, or other preliminary work to be undertaken or steps taken, with a view to the production of relevant films; or
        (ii) for any purpose connected with the production of short films.'
   (2) This may be a grant or loan or in the form of a guarantee 'or otherwise', and may be repayable.
   (3) The Secretary of State may appoint an advisor for the functions under 5(1)(b).
   (4) All money needed for these purposes is to be provided by Parliament; sums received to be paid into the Consolidated Fund.

6.—Under Schedule 1, the Secretary of State may issue certificates in respect of a 'qualifying film, tape or disc for the purposes of section 72 of the Finance Act 1982 (expenditure on production and acquisition of films etc).'

7.—(1) Repeals.
   (2) Amendment to section 13 of Copyright Act 1956.
   (3) Register of films under Films Act 1960 shall continue to be kept [but not maintained].
   (4) Any film which would be a British film or eligible film under Films Acts hereby repealed shall still be a British film or eligible film.
   (7) Secretary of State may make further transitional and saving provisions as necessary or expedient.

8.—Short title, commencement and extent.

 Sch.1: Certification for purposes of section 72 of Finance Act 1982 in case of British films.
1.—(3) Each part of a film series to be treated separately, although
   (4) Secretary of State may, 'if he thinks fit', direct that a series of up to 16 parts with combined playing time of not more than eight hours, 'when shown consecutively in the sequence intended', shall be regarded as a single film.
2.—Applications for certification of master negatives, tapes and discs.
3.—Certification by Secretary of State of master negatives, tapes and discs.
4.—British films for purposes of the Schedule.
   (2) Requirements are
        '(a) that the maker of the film was, throughout the time during which the film was being made, either--
            (i) a person ordinarily resident in a member State [of the EEC], or
            (ii) a company registered in a member State, being a company the central management and control of whose business was throughout the said time exercised in a member State;
        (b) that the studio (if any) used in making the film was in a Commonwealth country or the Republic of Ireland; and
       (c) that not less than the requisite amount of labour costs (as determined under paragraph 7) represents payments paid or payable in respect of the labour or services of Commonwealth citizens of any member State or persons ordinarily resident in a Commonwealth country or a member State.'
   (4) Applicant can ask that up to 7.5 per cent of playing time be disregarded for purpose of determining whether a film is certifiably British.
   (5) Films made under co-production treaties are to be regarded as British.

 5.—Excluded films.
   (1)(a) Those of which over 10 per cent of the running time is derived from previously certified films or of which the maker is not the original maker;
   (b) those of which more than 7.5 per cent of total playing time was photographed or recorded in a studio outside the UK;
   (c) those of which more than 20 per cent of total playing time was photographed or recorded outside the UK, unless as much of the film as practicable and all the normal laboratory work was done in UK and at least 50 per cent of the equipment in value terms was provided from UK sources.

 6.—Ascertainment of labour costs and playing time.
   (1) Includes all direct labour costs except those in respect of copyright, unless specifically created for the film.
   (2) The scenario author is deemed to be directly engaged but not any person only financially interested or employed in a clerical capacity or involved in supply of goods for the film. Payments to officers or servants of the production company allowed only when directly related to the film.

 7.—Determination of requisite amount of labour costs.
   Either 75 per cent of total labour costs less (if desired) payments to any one person who was not a Commonwealth or EEC citizen or resident, or 80 per cent of total labour costs less payments to any two such persons, at least one of whom must be engaged solely as an actor.
   (3) If, due to circumstances beyond the maker's control, the requirement specified in paragraph 4(2)(c) of the Schedule is not met, the Secretary of State may substitute 70 per cent and 75 per cent respectively in the above calculation.

 8.—Power of Secretary of State to direct alteration of labour costs.
   Where particular payments are, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, either inappropriately high or low for the labour or services concerned, a different sum can be substituted.

 9.—Determination of disputes. On application to the High Court in England and Wales or to the Court of Session in Scotland.

 10.—Regulations and orders.

Sch.2: Repeals.
Including Films Acts 1960, 1964, 1966, 1970, 1979, 1980. [See also s.3(8) above.]

Order made under this Act:

1985/811: The Films (Ending of Final Levy and Final Distribution Periods) Order 1985 [made under s.2(6)].
2000/756: The Films (Modification of the Definition of "British Film") Order 2000.
2006/3281: The Films (Certification) Regulations 2006. Defines the conditions that must be satisfied for a film to qualify as British.
2007/3478: The Films (Certification)(Amendment) Regulations 2007.


Page created 22 February 2004
David Fisher