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Tax level playing field 'not really possible'

Axis boss Richard Scott on the LA-based VFX companies struggling to compete with UK tax break

Axis Animation MD, Richard Scott, has told GamesIndustry.biz that a level playing field when it comes to the international business environment isn't really attainable - but that if the UK does receive tax breaks the government must make sure it's helping local creatives, and not simply designed to attract foreign corporations to set up studios.

Speaking in an interview published today, Scott explained that because Axis works across the games, film and TV industries he was able to see the effects of the UK's positive tax environment for movie-making and related industries.

"It's a difficult one - everybody wants a level playing field, but I don't think there ever is a level playing field," he said. "If you take film in the UK, it's doing really well - Pinewood and the other studios are always busy, the visual effects industry is growing off the back of that, and there's a benefit, no doubt.

"But at the same time you can look at various VFX companies in California, in Los Angeles, and they're actually closing because they can't compete with the UK. They're not on a level playing field - so I don't think you can ever have that."

He went on to explain that while Axis has been forced to deal more internationally in a bid to grow its business, he hopes that any economic incentives introduced into the UK will be specifically targeted to endemic businesses.

"The big thing for me is that if the games industry can get tax breaks, can we guarantee that it will make a difference to the UK's industry - and the jobs and companies that already exist there?" he said. "That it's not just an opportunity for Big Corporation X to come in and set up a big studio just to get a very nice tax break.

"From our point of view, the best thing would be that it gave benefits to the established companies - or those that were about to start up - and if it really benefits the UK then we'd see the impact of that.

"We've expanded and gone more international with our client base because of what's been happening in the UK games industry - it's disappointing that there are a lot of companies that have gotten into trouble. From our point of view, to grow our business and sustain what we want to do in games we've had to look to the US and Europe for new clients and opportunities."

The full interview with Richard Scott, in which he also talks about the challenges involved in designing cutscenes in games and why creative partnerships are more effective than basic outsourcing deals, is available now.

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