A recent discussion on “Shooting People”

Recently there’s been a discussion on ‘Shooting People’ about how people think the on-line future’s going to develop for filmmakers. I posted a reply (see below) in which I argued that regardless of on-line or not we had to challenge the near total domination of British cinema by the Americans and the supine attitude of the UKFC.
I was went a personal reply, so I’ll respect the sender’s anonymity, informing me that at a recent UKFC event one of their speakers informed the audience that there focus was on supporting American films because this was where the UK earned its money; which is pretty much proof positive of what we’re up against.
My correspondent also told me that questions were raised at this event about how the so-called digital screen network had not delivered on any of its promises, but rather had simply delivered well over 200 3D equipped screens to American interests at the British Lottery players expense. The response? “Shut up and keep quiet”.

my original post:

“Joel is substantially right. We don’t have a UK film industry, but one which provides services to Hollywood. Independent UK films do not get general release, only the ones which are US/UK co-productions with the US owning the rights, do.
And recently, despite the huge increase in TV channels, the number of actually British features and shorts has plummeted in real, and not just percentage terms.
It’s the same when it comes to the High St. Go into your local supermarket or HMV and the shelves are almost exclusively stacked with foreign films – ‘cos that’s what American and American owned films are.
But Joel is wrong when he says that the Americans aren’t subsidised. I’m afraid they are, and very much so. In the first place they have an enormous domestic market which makes back the production costs so foreign markets represent virtually pure profit – in other words they can afford to out-market anyone else; and, at the same time the US government allows them to get away with ‘lax’ accounting practices. Secondly they take advantage of tax breaks, weak unions and cheaper costs offered by countries, such as Britain, and they play these countries off against each other in the pursuit of bigger subsidies and bigger profits.
But, all too easily, instead of confronting the real problems head on, people turn to ‘magical solutions’. For example the UKFC pedalled the ‘Digital Screens Network’ as something which was going to counter the US dominance over theatrical exhibition. And a lot of us believed it too!
Now the internet is being pedalled as the one space which is going to be our saviour. But who’s saying this? The little British distributors (that means pretty much all of them) confess that it’s all they’ve been left with and that they don’t really have any idea of what to do.
And then there’s Woodward and Till, heads of the UKFC, who told parliament not so long ago that British films lost out in cinemas and DVD sales because of ‘market forces’ and that they ‘were shouted out of the market’. But, not to worry, no they weren’t going to do anything about that as British films would have great opportunities on the internet where they’d benefit ‘from the long tail’ – i.e. they might make some money back after about fifteen years.
So, yes, there is a little window of small opportunities on the internet, but it’s already closing – just try getting your film on iTunes.
If you don’t grasp the nettle then you’re clutching at straws.”



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