Tag Archive: opinion


The original articles of this compilation are sourced from The Saker

“Americans should know by now that their country’s wars are fertile ground for biased, one-sided, xenophobic, fake news and the United States has been in a permanent state of war since 1941.”

Part 1 – American Imperialism Leads the World into Dante’s Vision of Hell

Posted on Apr 24, 2017 by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould

 

Dante's Divine Comedy

Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate. (Abandon all hope ye who enter here.)” — Dante, “The Divine Comedy,” Inferno (Part 1), Canto 3, Line 9

Part 2 – How Neocons Push for War by Cooking the Books

Posted on Apr 24, 2017 by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould
An 1898 cartoon opinion for war by Leon Barritt

An 1898 cartoon features newspaper publishers Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst dressed as a cartoon character of the day, a satire of their papers’ role in drumming up U.S. public opinion for war by Leon Barritt (Wikimedia))

Part 3 – How the CIA Created a Fake Western Reality for ‘Unconventional Warfare’

Posted on Apr 26, 2017 by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould

The Evil Spirits of the Modern Day Press

“The Evil Spirits of the Modern Day Press”. Puck US magazine 1888 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Puck112188c.jpg ) [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Part 4 – The Final Stage of the Machiavellian Elites’ Takeover of America

Posted on Apr 27, 2017 by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould
1550 edition of Machiavelli’s Il Principe and La Vita di Castruccio Castracani da Lucca

Cover of the 1550 edition of Machiavelli’s Il Principe and La Vita di Castruccio Castracani da Lucca. public domain wiki commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Machiavelli_Principe_Cover_Page.jpg

Collectively republished on 10th May 2017: http://thesaker.is/the-history-of-the-neocon-takeover-of-the-usa-a-4-part-analysis/

Trump's Fog of WarA blank expression, try, pod, raise a canvas, ink blot, coin, phrase, draw some lines… then cross them, cover them up, add a few more chemicals and what emerges? Is it History, Art or the Art of War History?

World News - US Missile Attack on Syria - Reuters handout

Russia, Iran Warn U.S. They Will “Respond With Force” If Syria “Red Lines” Crossed Again

Competing Gas Pipelines Are Fueling The Syrian War & Migrant Crisis

Don’t let anyone fool you: As we have detailed since 2013, sectarian strife in Syria has been engineered to provide cover for a war for access to oil and gas, and the power and money that come along with it.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect recent Wikileaks revelations of US State Department leaks that show plans to destabilize Syria and overthrow the Syrian government as early as 2006.  The leaks reveal that these plans were given to the US directly from the Israeli government and would be formalized through instigating civil strife and sectarianism through partnership with nations like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and even Egypt to break down the power structue in Syria to essentially to weaken Iran and Hezbolla. The leaks also reveal Israeli plans to use this crisis to expand it’s occupation of the Golan Heights for additional oil exploration and military expansion.

Images of Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy who washed up dead on Mediterranean shores in his family’s attempt to flee war-torn Syria, have grabbed the attention of people around the world, sparking outrage about the true costs of war.

The heart-wrenching refugee crisis unfolding across the Middle East and at European borders has ignited a much needed conversation on the ongoing strife and instability that’s driving people from their homes in countries like Syria, Libya and Iraq. It’s brought international attention to the inhumane treatment these refugees are receiving if — and it is a major “if” — they arrive at Europe’s door.

In Syria, for example, foreign powers have sunk the nation into a nightmare combination of civil war, foreign invasion and terrorism. Syrians are in the impossible position of having to choose between living in a warzone, being targeted by groups like ISIS and the Syrian government’s brutal crackdown, or faring dangerous waters with minimal safety equipment only to be denied food, water and safety by European governments if they reach shore.

Other Syrians fleeing the chaos at home have turned to neighboring Arab Muslim countries. Jordan alone has absorbed over half a million Syrian refugees; Lebanon has accepted nearly 1.5 million; and Iraq and Egypt have taken in several hundred thousand.

Although it’s not an Arab nation or even part of the Middle East, Iran sent 150 tons of humanitarian goods, including 3,000 tents and 10,000 blankets, to the Red Crescents of Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon via land routes to be distributed among the Syrian refugees residing in the three countries last year.

Turkey has taken in nearly 2 million refugees to date. Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan made international headlines for opening his nation’s arms to migrants, positioning himself as a kind of savior in the process.

A paramilitary police officer carries the lifeless body of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi after he drowned when the boat he and his family members were in capsized near the Turkish resort of Bodrum early Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. (Photo: Nilüfer Demir/DHA)

Meanwhile, Gulf Arab nations like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have provided refuge to zero Syrian refugees.

While there’s certainly a conversation taking place about refugees — who they are, where they’re going, who’s helping them, and who isn’t — what’s absent is a discussion on how to prevent these wars from starting in the first place. Media outlets and political talking heads have found many opportunities to point fingers in the blame game, but not one media organization has accurately broken down what’s driving the chaos: control over gas, oil and resources.

Indeed, it’s worth asking: How did demonstrations held by “hundreds” of protesters demanding economic change in Syria four years ago devolve into a deadly sectarian civil war, fanning the flames of extremism haunting the world today and creating the world’s second largest refugee crisis?

While the media points its finger to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s barrel bombs and political analysts call for more airstrikes against ISIS and harsher sanctions against Syria, we’re four years into the crisis and most people have no idea how this war even got started.

This “civil war” is not about religion

Citing a lack of access on the ground, the United Nations stopped regularly updating its numbers of casualties in the Syrian civil war in January 2014. Estimates put the death toll between 140,200 and 330,380, with as many as 6 million Syrians displaced, according to the U.N.

While there is no question that the Syrian government is responsible for many of the casualties resulting from its brutal crackdown, this is not just a Syrian problem.

Foreign meddling in Syria began several years before the Syrian revolt erupted.  Wikieaks released leaked US State Department cables from 2006 revealing US plans to overthrow the Syrian government through instigating civil strife, and receiving these very orders straight from Tel Aviv.  The leaks reveal the United State’s partnership with nations like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and even Egypt to use sectarianism to divide Syria through the Sunni and Shiite divide to destabilize the nation to weaken Iran and Hezbolla.  Israel is also revealed to attempt to use this crisis to expand it’s occupation of the Golan Heights for additional oil exploration.

According to major media outlets like the BBC and the Associated Press, the demonstrations that supposedly swept Syria were comprised of only hundreds of people, but additional Wikileaks cables reveal CIA involvement on the ground in Syria to instigate these very demonstrations as early as March 2011.

FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 file photo, Syrians hold a large poster depicting Syria's President Bashar Assad during a rally in Damascus, Syria. Some activists expressed regret that one year later their

Just a few months into the demonstrations which now consisted of hundreds of armed protesters with CIA ties, demonstrations grew larger, armed non-Syrian rebel groups swarmed into Syria, and a severe government crackdown swept through the country to deter this foreign meddling. It became evident that the United States, United Kingdom, France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey would be jumping on the opportunity to organize, arm and finance rebels to form the Free Syrian Army as outlined in the State Department plans to destabilize Syria. (Just a few months ago, WikiLeaks confirmed this when it released Saudi intelligence that revealed Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia had been working hand in hand to arm and finance rebels to overthrow the Syrian government since 2012.)

These foreign nations created a pact in 2012 called “The Group of Friends of the Syrian People,” a name that couldn’t be further from the truth. Their agenda was to divide and conquer in order to wreak havoc across Syria in view of overthrowing Syrian President Bashar Assad.

A Free Syrian Army soldier carries his weapon at the northern town of Sarmada, in Idlib province, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012. (AP Photo)

The true agenda to hijack Syria’s revolt quickly became evident, with talking heads inserting Syria’s alliance with Iran as a threat to the security and interests of the United States and its allies in the region. It’s no secret that Syria’s government is a major arms, oil and gas, and weapons ally of Iran and Lebanon’s resistance political group Hezbollah.

But it’s important to note the timing: This coalition and meddling in Syria came about immediately on the heels of discussions of an Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline that was to be built between 2014 and 2016 from Iran’s giant South Pars field through Iraq and Syria. With a possible extension to Lebanon, it would eventually reach Europe, the target export market.

Perhaps the most accurate description of the current crisis over gas, oil and pipelines that is raging in Syria has been described by Dmitry Minin, writing for the Strategic Cultural Foundation in May 2013:

“A battle is raging over whether pipelines will go toward Europe from east to west, from Iran and Iraq to the Mediterranean coast of Syria, or take a more northbound route from Qatar and Saudi Arabia via Syria and Turkey. Having realized that the stalled Nabucco pipeline, and indeed the entire Southern Corridor, are backed up only by Azerbaijan’s reserves and can never equal Russian supplies to Europe or thwart the construction of the South Stream, the West is in a hurry to replace them with resources from the Persian Gulf. Syria ends up being a key link in this chain, and it leans in favor of Iran and Russia; thus it was decided in the Western capitals that its regime needs to change.

It’s the oil, gas and pipelines, stupid!

Indeed, tensions were building between Russia, the U.S. and the European Union amid concerns that the European gas market would be held hostage to Russian gas giant Gazprom. The proposed Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline would be essential to diversifying Europe’s energy supplies away from Russia.

Turkey is Gazprom’s second-largest customer. The entire Turkish energy security structure relies on gas from Russia and Iran. Plus, Turkey was harboring Ottoman-like ambitions of becoming a strategic crossroads for the export of Russian, Caspian-Central Asian, Iraqi and Iranian oil and even gas to Europe.

The Guardian reported in August 2013:

“Assad refused to sign a proposed agreement with Qatar and Turkey that would run a pipeline from the latter’s North field, contiguous with Iran’s South Pars field, through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey, with a view to supply European markets – albeit crucially bypassing Russia. Assad’s rationale was ‘to protect the interests of [his] Russian ally, which is Europe’s top supplier of natural gas.’”

Note the purple line which traces the proposed Qatar-Turkey natural gas pipeline and note that all of the countries highlighted in red are part of a new coalition hastily put together after Turkey finally (in exchange for NATO’s acquiescence on Erdogan’s politically-motivated war with the PKK) agreed to allow the US to fly combat missions against ISIS targets from Incirlik. Now note which country along the purple line is not highlighted in red. That’s because Bashar al-Assad didn’t support the pipeline and now we’re seeing what happens when you’re a Mid-East strongman and you decide not to support something the US and Saudi Arabia want to get done.

Knowing Syria was a critical piece in its energy strategy, Turkey attempted to persuade Syrian President Bashar Assad to reform this Iranian pipeline and to work with the proposed Qatar-Turkey pipeline, which would ultimately satisfy Turkey and the Gulf Arab nations’ quest for dominance over gas supplies. But after Assad refused Turkey’s proposal, Turkey and its allies became the major architects of Syria’s “civil war.”

Much of the strategy currently at play was described back in a 2008 U.S. Army-funded RAND report, “Unfolding the Future of the Long War”:

“The geographic area of proven oil reserves coincides with the power base of much of the Salafi-jihadist network. This creates a linkage between oil supplies and the long war that is not easily broken or simply characterized. … For the foreseeable future, world oil production growth and total output will be dominated by Persian Gulf resources. … The region will therefore remain a strategic priority, and this priority will interact strongly with that of prosecuting the long war.”

In this context, the report identifies the divide and conquer strategy while exploiting the Sunni-Shiite divide to protect Gulf oil and gas supplies while maintaining a Gulf Arab state dominance over oil markets.

“Divide and Rule focuses on exploiting fault lines between the various Salafi-jihadist groups to turn them against each other and dissipate their energy on internal conflicts. This strategy relies heavily on covert action, information operations (IO), unconventional warfare, and support to indigenous security forces. … the United States and its local allies could use the nationalist jihadists to launch proxy IO campaigns to discredit the transnational jihadists in the eyes of the local populace. … U.S. leaders could also choose to capitalize on the ‘Sustained Shia-Sunni Conflict’ trajectory by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes against Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world…. possibly supporting authoritative Sunni governments against a continuingly hostile Iran.”

The report notes that another option would be “to take sides in the conflict, possibly supporting authoritative Sunni governments against a continuingly hostile Iran.”

This framework crafted an interesting axis: Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.S., Britain and France vs. Syria, Iran and Russia.

Divide and conquer: A path to regime change

With the U.S., France, Britain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — aka, the new “Friends of Syria” coalition — publicly calling for the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar Assad between  2011 and 2012 after Assad’s refusal to sign onto the gas pipeline, the funds and arms flowing into Syria to feed the so-called “moderate” rebels were pushing Syria into a humanitarian crisis. Rebel groups were being organized left and right, many of which featured foreign fighters and many of which had allied with al-Qaida.

Saudi Arabia's permanent representative to the League of Arab States Ahmad al-Qattan, center, attends the Arab League summit in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, March, 29, 2012. The annual Arab summit meeting opened in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Thursday with only 10 of the leaders of the 22-member Arab League in attendance and amid a growing rift between Arab countries over how far they should go to end the one-year conflict in Syria. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

The Syrian government responded with a heavy hand, targeting rebel held areas and killing civilians in the process.

Since Syria is religiously diverse, the so-called “Friends of Syria” pushed sectarianism as their official “divide and conquer” strategy to oust Assad. Claiming that Alawites ruled over a majority Sunni nation, the call by the “moderate” U.S.-backed rebels became one about Sunni liberation.

Although the war is being sold to the public as a Sunni-Shiite conflict, so-called Sunni groups like ISIS,  the Syrian al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra (the Nusra Front) and even the “moderate” Free Syrian Army have indiscriminately targeted Syria’s Sunnis, Shiites, Christians and Jews. At the same time, these same foreign nations supported and even armed the Bahraini government, which claims to be Sunni, in its violent crackdown on the majority Shiite pro-democracy demonstrations that swept the nation.

The Syrian government army itself is over 80 percent Sunni, which indicates that the true agenda has been politically — not religiously — motivated.

In addition to this, the Assad family is Alawite, an Islamic sect that the media has clumped in with Shiites, though most Shiites would agree that the two are unrelated. Further, the Assad family is described as secular and running a secular nation. Counting Alawites as Shiites was simply another way to push a sectarian framework for the conflict: It allowed for the premise that the Syria-Iran alliance was based on religion, when, in fact, it was an economic relationship.

This framework carefully crafted the Syrian conflict as a Sunni revolution to liberate itself from Shiite influence that Iran was supposedly spreading to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

But the truth is, Syria’s Sunni community is divided, and many defected to join groups like the Free Syrian Army, ISIS and al-Qaida. And as mentioned earlier, over 80 percent of Assad’s military is Sunni.

As early as 2012, additional rebels armed and financed by Arab Gulf nations and Turkey like al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood, declared all-out war against Shiites. They even threatened to attack Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iraq’s government after they had overthrown the Assad government.

Soon after, the majority of the Muslim Brotherhood rebels became part of al-Qaida-affiliated groups. Together, they announced that they would destroy all shrines — not just those ones which hold particular importance to Shiites.

Hezbollah entered the scene in 2012 and allied itself with the Syrian government to fight al-Nusra and ISIS, which were officially being armed and financed by Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. And all the arms were actively being sold to these nations by the United States. Thus, US arms were falling into the hands of the same terror group the US claims to be fighting in its broader War on Terror.

Hezbollah fighters carry the coffin of Hezbollah member Mohammad Issa who was killed in an airstrike that killed six members of the Lebanese militant group and an Iranian general in Syria, during his funeral procession, in the southern village of Arab Salim, Lebanon, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. Hezbollah has accused Israel of carrying out Sunday's airstrike, which occurred on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. Issa was the highest-ranking among the group, and was among the senior cadres who headed the group's operations in Syria against the Sunni-led rebellion. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)

According to reports, Hezbollah was and has been been active in preventing rebel penetration from Syria to Lebanon, being one of the most active forces in the Syrian civil war spillover in Lebanon. Despite this, the U.S. sanctioned both the Syrian government and Hezbollah in 2012.

Also that year, Russia and Iran sent military advisers to assist the Syrian government in quelling the terror groups, but Iranian troops were not on the ground fighting during this time.

What was once a secular, diverse and peaceful nation, was looking more like it was on its way to becoming the next Afghanistan; its people living under Taliban-style rule as jihadists took over more land and conquered more cities.

Effects of foreign meddling outweigh self-determination

If you think that was hard to follow, you’re certainly not alone.

Most sectarian civil wars are purposely crafted to pit sides against one another to allow for a “divide and conquer” approach that breaks larger concentrations of power into smaller factions that have more difficulty linking up. It’s a colonial doctrine that the British Empire famously used, and what we see taking place in Syria is no different.

So, let’s get one thing straight: This is not about religion. It might be convenient to say that Arabs or Muslims kill each other, and it’s easy to frame these conflicts as sectarian to paint the region and its people as barbaric. But this Orientalist, overly simplistic view of conflict in the Middle East dehumanizes the victims of these wars to justify direct and indirect military action.

If the truth was presented to the public from the perspective that these wars are about economic interests, most people would not support any covert funding and arming of rebels or direct intervention. In fact, the majority of the public would protest against war. But when something is presented to the public as a matter of good versus evil, we are naturally inclined to side with the “good” and justify war to fight off the supposed “evil.”

The political rhetoric has been carefully crafted to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable. Ultimately, no matter the agendas, the alliances or instability brought on by foreign meddling, the calls for freedom, democracy and equality that erupted in 2011 were real then and they’re real today. And let’s not forget that the lack of freedom, democracy and equality have been brought on more by foreign meddling to prop up brutal dictators and arm terror groups than by self-determination.

Migrant men help a fellow migrant man holding a boy as they are stuck between Macedonian riot police officers and migrants during a clash near the border train station of Idomeni, northern Greece, as they wait to be allowed by the Macedonian police to cross the border from Greece to Macedonia, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. Macedonian special police forces have fired stun grenades to disperse thousands of migrants stuck on a no-man's land with Greece, a day after Macedonia declared a state of emergency on its borders to deal with a massive influx of migrants heading north to Europe. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

The people in the Middle East once stood united and strong together against foreign meddling, exploitation and colonialism no matter their religious or cultural background. But today, the Middle East is being torn to shreds by manipulative plans to gain oil and gas access by pitting people against one another based on religion. The ensuing chaos provides ample cover to install a new regime that’s more amenable to opening up oil pipelines and ensuring favorable routes for the highest bidders.

And in this push for energy, it’s the people who suffer most. In Syria, they are fleeing en masse. They’re waking up, putting sneakers on their little boys and girls, and hopping on boats without life jackets, hoping just to make it to another shore. They’re risking their lives, knowing full well that they may never reach that other shore, because the hope of somewhere else is better than the reality at home.

Socio-Economics History Blog

  • Russia, Iran Warn U.S. They Will “Respond With Force” If Syria “Red Lines” Crossed Again
    by Tyler Durden, http://www.zerohedge.com
    A statement issued on Sunday by a joint command centre consisting of forces of Russian, Iran and allied militia alliance supporting Syrian President Bashar al Assad said that Friday’s US strike on the Syrian air base crossed “red lines” and it would “respond with force” to any new aggression while increasing their level of support to their ally.

    In the statement published by the group on media outlet Ilam al Harbi, the pro-Assad alliances says that “what America waged in an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines. From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well.”

    Earlier on Sunday the UK’s Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon…

View original post 207 more words

#Brexit – How does it affect the UK Film Industry ?- Conjecture and Opinions

Well, after reading the article by Stephen Follows copied in its entirety below, I’m certainly not in agreement and have been prompted to provide my own views on this historic and groundbreaking referendum held on 23rd June 2016 in the UK now commonly called the “Brexit” vote.

Britain is well-prepared and will triumph gloriously as the panic subsides. I am most probably going to be critiqued on my statements here and wildly criticised for being contrarian or called worse? Let me start by stating that the film industry generally and globally is going through a dynamic disruptive metamorphosis; changes are inevitable as strong growth in media continues, and as new business relationships are consummated in a rapidly changing economic landscape. The models have changed. Funding productions and distributing content is no longer utilising film funding mechanics that were developed and put in place decades ago, and before the Internet changed everything.

L2L Brexit Opportunity

Countries and their governments throughout the world are adopting film incentives processes building on local strengths as they have researched and found how important attracting filmmaking in their jurisdictions is to other industry sectors within their borders. Film incentives emanated from Hollywood and were initiated by “Runaway Production“. In the late 1990’s Hollywood film industry guilds, backed by US studios and media companies retained a company that produced the Monitor Report to conduct an investigation into phenomenon. The global success of production incentives and the migration of feature film production from the U.S.A. to the world spurred further in-depth research and data collection.

 

The outcome of the Brexit vote in the UK has rippled rapidly through the financial services industry, banks and global markets and will continue for some time yet; all are experiencing very high levels of volatility and this has sent shock waves around the world.

Brexit Pound Drops

Record drops in Pound Sterling currency trading

 

The British Pound has plummeted to record lows with the media networks harping on in sound bites, excited sensationalism about trading drops not seen in 45 years of market analytics et al. Well, what most people seemingly don’t realise or understand about
film industry dynamics is that the film necessarily thrives during times of uncertainty. This can be seen throughout history, across countries and around the world. Do some deep research into what I am writing here and you will likely be surprised to find correlations that support my words! The British film industry has evolved and will continue to capture global market shares in the media industry, and I see this time as stimulating greater growth, as opposed to what the pundits and commentators are bleating along with those who see things differently.

Brexit Britain On Film BFI

Britain On Film Our Lives Our Stories www.bfi.org.uk

Here’s some background worth reciting to put current views in context. “The UK was not a signatory to the Treaty of Rome which created the EEC in 1957. The country subsequently applied to join the organization in 1963 and again in 1967, but both applications were vetoed by the then President of FranceCharles de Gaulle, ostensibly because “a number of aspects of Britain’s economy, from working practices to agriculture had made Britain incompatible with Europe and that Britain harbored a “deep-seated hostility” to any pan-European project. Once de Gaulle had relinquished the French presidency, the UK made a third application for membership, which was successful. On 1 January 1973 the United Kingdom joined the EEC, then often referred to in the UK as the “Common Market”. This was done under the Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath. The opposition Labour Party, led by Harold Wilson, contested the October 1974 general election with a commitment to renegotiate Britain’s terms of membership of the EEC and then hold a referendum on whether to remain in the EEC on the new terms.”

Brexit British Film Soldiers On - Barry Lyndon 1975 Stanley Kubrick

A scene from “Barry Lyndon” 1975, directed by Stanley Kubrick

Now more than four decades on in 2016 the people of the UK have voted and the majority have chosen to leave the fold.

The EU and EEA (formerly known as EEC) have been weighed, measured and left wanting.

Brexit Wins Overall

British “Brexit” Referendum Final Results

The globalists,  corporate interests, banks and politicians that are are all screaming and moaning at the top of their lungs that the UK has absconded are behaving like chicks hatching out of cracked and spoiled boiled eggs. Many of those who have been gambling on this huge European casino economy are locked into the Euro currency; Britain is not.

In retrospect keeping the British Pound was a very smart move and whilst obviously it will be spinning fast and furiously on the roulette wheel of global currency markets for a while, the wheel will begin to slow and when it settles, the strength and growth prospects inherent in the British economy will begin to shine. Now that the UK has left the table, after having been previously drawn to the allure of bright lights and European delights at a time in British history when things looked a damn sight more appealing across the channel than the dire conditions in England that occurred in the aftermath of World War II.Brexit BFI Facebook on Billy Wilder

Britain was enticed down the old golden gilt garden path and as things became boggy and more recently progressively stagnant a modern economic quagmire of dissent and distrust emerged and flowed in the under currents of populations and opinions. The British people have decided to take their remaining chips, cash in at the borders and leave the building. If you’ve ever been into a casino, you will have noticed that they like to keep the light constant, day and night, to trick people and punters into staying on and gambling for longer; the EU bureaucratic empire operates as aqueously within its vast corridors of power, ever flowing, ever changing and most haven’t even noticed where the leakages are occurring.

Brexit The Movie is a full length British documentary film that provides some very interesting factual details, and well worth watching more than once.

The United Kingdom now stands to benefit immensely.

 

Building on new trends and timing with markets

Evidence suggests that the trends of US and EU companies pursuing strategic partnerships in Asia is increasing in 2016.

Brexit Pole - Interest Rates

Fiscal imbalances and floundering interest rates

Such trends are not exclusive to strategic decisions being made by corporations in the entertainment, media, and Hollywood talent agencies. The British Film Institute research provides great insights into how UK Film industry has been positioning for a more dynamic growth into new markets. A renewed focus on private equity and Family Office funding coupled with recent increased volatility in financial markets has spurred a swathe of mergers and acquisitions activity across the divide between East and West. Britain stands to benefit in this changing dynamic global shift we are in the midst of witnessing.

OTT and Streaming revenues growth accelerators

Activity and accelerated knowledge growth amongst Asian countries in the OTT and Premium OTT services sectors is driving increased competition for market share in four principle market angles:

  • Market enablers: the underlying market conditions for premium OTT offerings (e.g. population, broadband, devices, penetration, payment gateways)
  • OTT building blocks: the assets, capabilities, technologies and services required to develop and launch subscription OTT offerings (e.g. government regulation, censorship, languages, cultural specialties)
  • Consumer demand: awareness, interest, willingness to pay, serviceability to pay, payment options
  • The competitive environment between OTT services, pay-tv offerings (Netflix, iflix, et al)

Britain is poised strategically and the smart money and smart ideas are disruptive. I see Brexit as a smart move, contrary to the inference by general mass media reports that most of the voters were low income classes lacking in understanding. Smart companies are banking on future technologies that will change the way we do business around the world. Furthermore, Britain can now create new relationships more efficiently and operate without needing EU approvals, that are more complex and time consuming to get approved across the channel. Providing scalability as well as flexibility to explore expansion opportunities and build business relationships in ASEAN and India at an exciting time when these Asian regions are experiencing extraordinary changes is an opportunity for the taking.

Brexit BFI Into Film

BFI Into Film education programme

The British Film Industry stands to benefit immensely as it is well supported within the country by the BFI coupled with educational programmes such as Into Film and these can quickly and easily become interesting areas of growth for British film professionals showing their wares to countries with less established film industry mechanisms. Growth in the global media industry is vibrant and expanding. As Asia creates new forums, established British technology and experience in teaching and learning programs can be exported and provide assistance and services for Startups in countries experiencing strong growth. Focusing on new business avenues and matching these efficiently with cost effectively implementation of entertainment and media growth strategies is the key to sustainability; remaining adaptable to future changes is vital for survival.

Innovations and Cultural Specifics

Innovations in technology and rapid growth utilising enterprise software to enhance business efficiency coupled to growing mobile penetration is prevalent across ASEAN.

Brexit Mobile penetration demographics SE Asia

Mobile Communications Demographics in South East Asia

With large populations utilizing high-speed data services and ever-increasing access to mobile communications coupled with the proliferation of marketing and advertising censorship controls are the subject of Governments and populations wishing to monitor and filter content delivered over the Internet.

India’s super angel investors are predominantly focused on the media technology and innovation spaces and are keenly interested in developing strategic partnerships with growth stories that focus on expansion in Asia.

The UK film industry is not only going to benefit from what I see as being relatively short-term weakness in the British Pound currency, Britain will thrive as the English people build upon their long history and experiences of seeking out and discovering new lands, building and expanding. With Brexit Britain has begun a new era of British conquest but not of conquer; this time the prospects are for the country to prosper on new relationships with new partners, rather than empire building as it was during the days of the East India Company “formed to pursue trade with the East Indies but ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and Qing China.” The company rose to account for half of the world’s trade, particularly in basic commodities including cotton, silk, indigo dye, salt, saltpetre, tea and opium. The company also ruled the beginnings of the British Empire in India. This time Britain will be bringing AI, nano-technology and British Startups Technology to the world.

Thank you for taking the time to read my conjecture and opinions here. I look forward with positivism and optimism as the world begins to dance rather than march to a new tune.

This article is created and written by James With, spurred after reading the article by Stephen Follows dated June 26, 2016 copied here below.

***************************************************************

The full article by Stephen Follows is reprinted here for ease and efficiency with respect to views expressed by many film industry heavyweights and further juxtaposition.

How will Brexit affect the UK film industry?

How will Brexit affect the UK film industry?Last Thursday, 52% of the UK population voted for the UK to leave the European Union (EU).  I am going to avoid the political side of this conversation as it’s been covered well elsewhere.  I will also avoid sharing my own opinion on the matter as there are no shortage of people shouting off on one side or another.However, I thought I can add to the conversation by looking at the numbers for how the British and European film industries interact and how Brexit will affect the UK film industry.

How will Brexit affect the UK film industry?

It’s worth noting that a large part of the whole Brexit debate was taken up with discussing unknowns.  Neither side has a magic crystal ball and so it’s impossible to say for certain exactly what will happen in a post-EU UK.  However, some outcomes are almost automatic, in that if the UK stops paying into the EU then it can expect to stop receiving money out of the EU.  So, here is a rundown of the negative effects of Brexit to the UK film industry…

  1. MEDIA logoAn end to MEDIA / Creative Europe funding (certain).  Between 2007-13, the MEDIA scheme provided over €100 million towards various aspects of the UK film industry. The loss of this money is the biggest, clearest effect of Brexit and so I’ve addressed it in the section below.
  2. In the short-term, British / European co-productions will be harder (very likely). Official co-productions allow international film producers to work together to create a film which can gain state protections and tax benefits from multiple countries at the same time. In the immediate future, co-productions between British and European countries will become harder, due to the fall in the value of the Pound and the growing uncertainty.
  3. In the long-term, British / European co-productions may need new legislation (unclear).  Official co-productions are only possible between countries which have signed a treaty defining co-production rules. The UK currently has active treaties with Australia, Canada, China, India, Israel, Jamaica, Morocco, New Zealand, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, South Africa and the EU.  The EU treaty is called the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production and was signed in October 1992 in Strasbourg.  This European treaty is not exclusively for just EU members as it refers to its signatories as “member States and the other States Parties to the European Cultural Convention”.  The UK signed the original treaty as a member of the EU so conceivably it would need to sign up again as a “European non-member State”.  Interestingly, the UK already has a separate co-production agreement with France, signed in 1994, so British / French co-productions may not be affected by Brexit in the same way co-productions with other EU member states are.
  4. British content will be much less attractive to European broadcasters (almost certain). Some European countries have quotas on the amount of European content their exhibitors and broadcasters must show.  For example, the majority (i.e. minimum of 51%) of French entertainment broadcast transmission time must be taken up with programs of European origin.  Not only did this increase demand for native UK films and television shows but it also made UK / US co-productions more attractive.  For example, ‘The Night Manager’ was a £30 million co-production between the BBC and AMC, which also qualified as an EU production.  In a post-Brexit world, it is very unlikely that such products will be classed as ‘European’ and will therefore lose a large part of their value to European countries with such quotas.
  5. Increased complexities for international cast and crew (possible but unclear).  One of the features of a unified Europe is the free movement of people, goods and services.  New visa requirements and work permits could affect both British people filming in Europe and European people filming in the UK.  That said, the issue is a little more complicated than just ‘in or out’ of the EU. This passport and border controls are covered not by the EU but instead by the Schengen Agreement, and only 22 of the EU’s 28 member states are currently signed up (also, the UK and Ireland have certain opt-outs),  In addition, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are members of the Schengen Area but not of the EU.  The basics of the free movement of people and services is also not simply an EU issue, but was instead established in the Treaty of Rome. So it’s not clear what would happen post-Brexit as new agreements will need to be reached in order to keep the free movement protections the film industry has enjoyed until now.
  6. Fewer UK films will be distributed in Europe (certain). EU funding has supported the export of UK film to Europe to a massive degree. In fact, between 2007-13, almost €45 million was spent to bring UK films to European cinema audiences.  Details of which films were supported follow in the next section.
  7. Blue is the warmest colourFewer international films will be distributed in the UK (certain, although the extent is unknown).  Between 2007-13, UK-based businesses received over €20 million in EU funding to support the release of European films in the UK.  In addition, if Brexit continues to cause a weak Pound then it becomes more expensive for UK distributors to acquire new content.  However, this will affect all UK distributors equally, so may only reduce the amount UK distributors can pay upfront (known as the Minumum Guarantee, or MG) rather than prevent distribution entirely.
  8. UK independent cinemas will lose income.  (certain, although the extent is unknown).  56 UK independent cinemas receive funding from the EU as part of the Europa Cinema scheme, which supports cinemas which commit an average of 67% of their programming to European films.  Between 2007-13, this averaged out to over €103,000 per cinema.
  9. The negative effect of uncertainty (very likely). The film industry is highly fickle and responds negatively towards uncertainty.  This is partly due to the large amounts of money at stake and the desire to reduce risks wherever possible.  Right now no-one is sure what effect Brexit will have on the UK film industry, and so it may seem a safer bet to wait this period of change out before investing in UK film productions.
  10. Loss of influence on European rules affecting UK content (certain but effects unknown). By leaving the EU, the UK will forfeit its right to influence EU policy towards film and television content.  This will most acutely be felt in the discussions around the proposed Single Digital Market, which aims to force distributors to treat the EU as one territory, rather than distributing films country-by-country as happens today.

Despite these negative effects, Brexit could be positive for the UK film industry in the following ways…

  1. several-pound-bills-new-british-20-pounds-moneyIt becomes cheaper to shoot in the UK (uncertain).  If the Pound continues to lose value (as it has since the Brexit voted was announced) then the UK becomes ever-cheaper for foreign productions to set up shop in the UK. This will have the biggest effect on Hollywood studios, who spend vast sums of money and whose green-screen epics can be shot almost anywhere in the world.   Between 2006-15, UK / USA studios films spent £7.7 billion in the UK, accounting for 68% of the money spent on UK films.
  2. The UK is free to change its tax rules (certain).  The current Film Tax Relief (FTR) scheme is very generous and offers producers a refund worth around a fifth of the money they spend on UK films in the UK.  As a member of the EU, the UK is bound by rules on State Aid and does not have a free hand to change government incentives and subsidies without EU approval. When the FTR first came in, it gave points for various elements being British, such as the cast, crew, languages used, etc.  However, EU rules have forced the UK to widen the criteria to favour all Europeans equally.  This means that it is now possible to have a film that qualifies as fully “Brtish” with an all-Italian crew, based on a Spanish story, told in German. Leaving the EU will remove these restrictions on UK film tax policy. This freedom will mostly benefit the unseen civil servants who draw up the actual tax laws, but this increased flexibility means that in theory our film incentives can be changed more often and be better tailored to the needs of the UK film industry.
  3. Avoid proposed new European rules on release patterns (certain freedom from a possible event). As discussed above, the Single Digital Market could mean that films need to be released in Europe as one territory all at once.  It’s not certain how the new rules will eventually be written, but if we’re out of the EU then we’re certainly not going to be part of it.  This will still affect British films exported to Europe but not films released in the UK.
  4. The UK can spend that saved money directly on UK film (extremely unclear).  In theory, the UK can use the money saved by not paying into the EU to directly replace the money and support that was lost by the lack of MEDIA funding.  It remains unclear if the government wishes to do this.

How much has the MEDIA budget benefitted the UK film industry?

MEDIA currently provides money to the UK film sector for training, development, co-productions, festivals and theatrical distribution.  Over a seven year period (2007-13), the EU provided over €100,000,000 towards various aspects of UK film industry.  This breaks down as follows…

  • MEDIA - Brexit affect the UK film industry€44,561,008 – Awards to European distributors to release UK films
  • €10,478,771 – Investment in UK TV broadcasting
  • €8,898,821 – Distribution of European films in the UK
  • €7,830,252 – Development – UK Slate funding
  • €6,939,604 – Development – UK Single projects
  • €5,810,965 – UK cinemas part of the Europa network
  • €4,910,314 – UK-based training
  • €2,975,703 – UK VoD platforms
  • €2,775,444 – UK-based film courses and schools
  • €2,013,688 – Development – UK Interactive works
  • €890,530 – Grants to UK sales agents who represent non-UK European films
  • €85,0718 – UK pilot release programs
  • €695,500 – European Day-and-Date pilots
  • €539,766 – i2i Audiovisual (plugging finance gaps in UK / European co-productions)
  • €100,171,084 – Total

As mentioned above, UK films have received a huge amount of EU funding for their releases around Europe.  These include…

  • Kings Speech in FrenchThe Iron Lady – €1,531,922 – 31 European territories
  • Slumdog Millionaire – €1,339,104 – 24 European territories
  • Quartet – €1,339,009 – 23 European territories
  • Looking For Eric – €1,297,031 – 26 European territories
  • Tamara Drewe – €1,239,843 – 22 European territories
  • The King’s Speech – €1,025,717 – 26 European territories
  • The Last Legion – €1,025,551 – 3 European territories
  • The Duchess – €954,012 – 19 European territories
  • Shame – €951,814 – 27 European territories
  • Another Year – €914,330 – 21 European territories
  • I Give It a Year – €892,867 – 29 European territories
  • Streetdance 3D – €891,644 – 17 European territories
  • Salmon Fishing in the Yemen – €882,124 – 27 European territories
  • The Secret of Moonacre – €814,964 – 5 European territories
  • Song for Marion – €787,987 – 15 European territories
  • Happy-Go-Lucky – €750,173 – 24 European territories
  • Hysteria – €748,066 – 25 European territories
  • Fish Tank – €737,813 – 29 European territories
  • Nowhere Boy – €708,871 – 8 European territories
  • The Angels’ Share – €699,286 – 27 European territories
  • A further €25,028,880 awarded to other UK films

Finally, it’s worth mentioning some of the European films that have reached UK cinema audiences in part because of EU funding. These include A Prophet, The Great Beauty, Gomorrah, I Am Love, Persepolis, Love is All You Need, The Class, Amour, Potiche, Waltz with Bashir, Heartbreaker, Of Gods and Men, Blue is the Warmest Colour, Pina, Two Days In Paris, The Counterfeiters, The White Ribbon, Melancholia, Antichrist and Molière.

What is the UK film industry’s opinion on Brexit?

It’s fair to say that the vast majority of people working in the UK film industry are firmly against the UK leaving the EU.  UK arts pressure group the Creative Industries Federation say that 96% of its members supported the Remain campaign and 84% said that EU membership was important to the future of their organisation.   A poll by Media Business Insight found that 66% of people working in the UK film industry felt that Brexit would have a negative impact on the sector.  A further 18.5% were uncertain on the outcome of Brexit, with only 11.5% believing that Brexit would be positive for the UK’s film industry.

So why are so many UK film professionals against Brexit?  This could be for a number of reasons…

  • Political values. The film industry is traditional a fairly liberal-minded industry and the liberal cause is largely pro-EU.
  • Geographical location.  The majority of UK film jobs are located in London and London was a hotbed of anti-Brexit sentiment (60% of London voters opted to Remain).
  • Age. The film industry has much lower age profile than the UK population, and polls have shown how the majority of those under 50 supported Remain while a majority of those over 50 supported Leave.
  • Fear of uncertainty.  The UK film industry is in a period of stable growth, thanks in large part to a stable government approach to film incentives.  Uncertainties in the future could scare off investors and studios from making investments in UK films.
  • The majority of predictable outcomes to the UK film industry are negative.  The list at the top of this article shows how the vast majority of expected Brexit outcomes are negative for UK film.

Here is a summary of press coverage on the issue…

  • Brexit game of ThronesScreen Daily says that the UK film and TV sectors are in “limbo” and that “the two sectors had recently expressed strong sentiment in favour of remaining in the European Union, which is the major trade partner of the UK and which provides millions of pounds in subsidies to the UK market as well as a number of frameworks for coproduction. That structure is now in serious doubt“.
  • Variety collected views from a number of major voices in UK film, summing them up by saying “British voters’ stunning decision to turn their backs on the European Union has left many of the country’s leading TV and film players reeling“.
  • The Guardian summed up the situation by saying that there would be “less cash, fewer movies” and also that “we could witness a 70s-style British film meltdown”.
  • The Hollywood Reporter led with “U.K. Producers Oppose Brexit”, pointing out that “James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli, veteran David Puttnam, Matthew Vaughn, The King’s Speech producer Iain Canning, Slumdog Millionaire’s Christian Colson and Aardman Animations are among those who outlined their reasons for why staying in the EU is the right call for those who want “to support our current, thriving creative industries.”“.
  • Broadcast magazine noted that shares in ITV dropped 19% within a day of the vote being announced, and the Sky share price also fell 8%.  Further drops were felt by eOne and Vivendi.
  • The Verge discussed the possible effect of Brexit on ‘Game of Thrones’, saying “US productions might feel the effect, too. Much of HBO’s Game of Thrones is filmed in Northern Ireland, for instance, partly supported by the European Regional Development Fund. HBO, however, says it doesn’t anticipate any financial impact on GoT, since the network took no money from the ERDF for the last few seasons, according to Entertainment Weekly“.
  • And the Radio Times pointed out one aspect of Brexit too many experts have overlooked by noting “The shock Brexit result will have massive ramifications – not least the fact that we may see less of beautiful French actress Clémence Poésy on TV“.

A number of top UK film voices have shared their views and I could fill an entire article with them.  However, for the sake of brevity, here are five which seem to sum up the mood…

  • Harvey WeisteinHarvey Weinstein said “I’m shocked… These guys who voted, voted out of fear. It’s a huge mistake… It could be very costly in the movie and TV industry in terms of content branding. European branding is very important. It’s a big deal for these young British filmmakers”.
  • Michael Ryan, Chairman of the Independent Film & Television Alliancesaid The decision to exit the European Union is a major blow to the UK film and TV industry. Producing films and television programs is a very expensive and very risky business and certainty about the rules affecting the business is a must. This decision has just blown up our foundation — as of today, we no longer know how our relationships with co-producers, financiers and distributors will work, whether new taxes will be dropped on our activities in the rest of Europe or how production financing is going to be raised without any input from European funding agencies. The UK creative sector has been a strong and vibrant contributor to the economy — this is likely to be devastating for us”.
  • Danny Perkinshead of Studiocanal UK said “Short term it’s bad news for the currency and terrible news for film acquisitions, which are normally done in dollars or euros. UK companies will suffer in the short term“.
  • Rebecca O’Brien of Sixteen Films said “It has blown us out of the water. We are very dependent on our relations with Europe. All of our films for the last 20 or 25 years have been co-productions with Europe. It (Brexit) doesn’t mean they will stop immediately but it means that trade, and access and all those things are much more difficult. It just means we have to re-invent the wheel again“.
  • Jeremy Thomas of the Recorded Picture Company quoted Charles Bukowski by saying that “the problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence“.  Mr Thomas added “For the film industry, it is a disaster“.

So what now?

BrexitSo many of the effects of Brexit are unknown.  Right now, the only thing that has happened is that a non-binding referendum was marginally won by the pro-Brexit movement.  There’s no doubt that the majority of the UK film industry hopes that Brexit doesn’t happen.  Failing that, the film industry is likely to seek the following outcomes from the government…

  • A deal to retain co-production advantages with EU countries.  Most likely this means ensuring that the UK remains signed up to European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production.
  • An agreement to classify UK content as “European” in relation to production and distribution quotas.  This is a harder task than the co-production deal, although it should be noted that Switzerland has already achieved this for their content.
  • Replacement funding be provided for current MEDIA-funded activities.  A major claim of the Leave campaign was that the UK would save £350 million a week by leaving the EU.  It turns out that once you take into account the UK’s rebate the real saving is far lower, but even taking that into account, the money saved by leaving the EU could be used to replace the funding currently provided by MEDIA.
  • Action to be taken swiftly and confidently.  A protracted and messy exit will create a large amount of uncertainty and stifle investment in UK film.

Epilogue

Sorry if you were expecting to be able to read my final article in my series on film locations today.  I have had a number of people ask me about how Brexit will affect the film industry so I bumped the film locations article to next week.  Stay tuned…