The BBFC – money for nothing!

Campaign to scrap this tax on independent movies!

I first wrote Diary of a Bad Lad as a novel. It’s a lot more graphic than the film. If it was published it would be available in High St. stores and anyone could buy it – including seven year olds.

Anyone can buy unrated DVD’s from sites such as and many others, and the same goes for downloads.

But to legally sell a typical DVD – film plus extras – in the UK you have to hand over around £1,200 to the BBFC for a ‘certificate’ and an inane collection of words (contains ‘mild peril’) that you have to put on the cover.

What’s more this doesn’t cover the film for theatrical distribution you’ll have to pay them another £1,200 for that as well. Nearly £2,500 all together.

Now this sort of sum of money is nothing to a multi-million budget ‘studio’ film – whether British or American. In fact classification adds up to the shortest synopsis money can buy: “12”, “15”, “18” or whatever. It one of the ways in which the multiplex audience is organised and controlled, and I don’t have a problem with that.

But real independent films – British or foreign – never get shown in a multiplex, they get shown in Art Houses and Arts Centres – places that under 18’s don’t go to. So what’s the point? It’s just a completely unjustified tax!

£2,500 for someone to spend about 2-and-a-half hours watching something? That’s £1,000 per hour. What a total, and totally unjustified rip off. Making Diary of a Bad Lad cost us £3,500 in cash with everyone on a royalty deal. Why should we have to pay the BBFC more than 60% of the budget – or two weeks wages for an actor? And there are other films that have been made for less than £10,000 – so it’s at least a 25% tax on them. And what about small distributors trying to bring interesting foreign films to the British public – they’re having to pay this tax as well before anyone starts amking anything!

So, under 18’s can’t/don’t go to Arts Centre venues. Indie filmmakers want to give their audiences a clear idea of ‘what’s in the box’ so they are quite capable of writing ‘not suitable for children’, or ‘contains scenes of sex and violence’. There are enough laws as it is governing content from Trades Description to Obscene Publications.

Here’s a bit of history: before 1968 plays had to be submitted to the ‘Lord Chamberlain’s Office’ and wre censored. A campaign was waged against this with, amongst others, The Royal Court Theatre and playwright Edward Bond in the vanguard. The success of this campaign brought shows such as ‘Hair’ and ‘Oh Calcutta’ to the London stage. But, more importantly, it unleashed an explosion of fringe theatre and the creation of a huge number of new venues. That was forty years ago – but today filmmakers and film fans still have to put up with this shit.

Just to show how absurd all this is, my good friend and ‘Diary of a Bad Lad’ star, Joe O’Byrne has a play called “The Bench” which has now played two short runs in Manchester fringe theatre venues – and to rave reviews. Now, in theory, Joe could have made a video recording of one of these performances, but he wouldn’t be abled to show it in the same venue without handing over (as it does last about two hours) somewhere around the £1,700 mark to the BBFC. Bizarre!

Basta! Enough!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: