British filmmaking heads towards the sunset

Recently hosted a round-table discussion about the state of British independent film production. The participants were all leading producers whose credits ranged from “Made in Dagenham” to “Fish Tank” and “Adulthood”.
To save time, here’s a summary of the key points:

*The UK tax-credit is designed to help the industrialised film business – the studio system. On a budget of $100m, they can take $20m out of the UK. And Britain has been effectively cut-off from European filmmaking ever since the Tories took Britain out of Eurimages – the EU co-production funding system – in 1996.

(note: The UK joined Eurimages in April 1993. The number of films awarded Eurimages funding and involving UK co-production companies was 12 in 1993, 21 in 1994 and 22 in 1995, and the total amounts awarded were £2.66 million, £5.45 million and £6.138 respectively; this being about three times what the government had contributed to the fund.)

*Everyone is suffering. Today no one is promoting independent cinema on the world stage, as Miramax did, and so it’s very hard to make any deals with US producers.

*The English language could be a disadvantage. France, Italy, Spain and Japan are protected by their language (and quotas – JW) but our cinema is so dominated by industrialised product that we don’t even have a chance.

*Digital screens put in by the UK Film Council at large expense, have been of no benefit to British filmmakers.

*The handful of established production companies (and directors) will continue to stagger along; but it’s a handful of people who are getting older and older. No younger and more innovative people seem to be managing to break into the industry; and without major changes it’s hard to see how they can.


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2 Responses to “British filmmaking heads towards the sunset”

  1. steve Says:

    This article is confusing.

    ‘No younger and more innovative people seem to be managing to break into the industry’

    Is this because there are not very many innovative younger people?

    ‘Everyone is suffering’

    ho is ‘everyone’ ? Where are the forums that reflect this ?

    Not long ago film-makers in Britain would have seen the opportunity of the internet – basically a free broadcasting station – as nothing short of brilliant and would have seized it with both hands. (I wonder how film-makers like Derek Jarman and Lindsay Anderson would have used it ?)
    Interesting political activism re; Charlie Veitch and the LovePolice occurs ….but where are the film-makers with the same convictions (if you’ll excuse the pun… ? and more importantly the sense of a collective spirit ? How can an audience or a following gather round people merely promoting their ‘own’ film.

    What were the solutions that these Producers proposed?
    It would be good to hear something from the multi-talented Trix Worrell on this. Have a lot of experienced Producers got fed up with film while younger people are merely brainwashed into reproducing what they think the media wants?

  2. steve Says:

    To clarify the above – what I meant to say is why, if there are young film-makers not breaking into the British film ‘industry’ (is it an ‘ industry’ or the same people moving work to eachother – ? and usually working in television or the audio visual sector) then why is there not more campaigning on this issue? The British film media is a select club and rife with nepotism. The fact probably is that making a film in the uk even for these self servers often comes down to it being an expensive one-off risk – usually backed by money from the City or from a television base. Something like a hobby – or seen as a one off opportunity with eyes on LA.
    The big mystery is how, with so many British graduates being sold careers in this sector – from acting to film courses – why so many lack knowledge of these important issues you are pointing out in relation to British cinema. Take a look at the argument about the minimum wage in relation to film work and low budget film on the mikey bee (an out of work actor and film-maker himself) a while back for instance. Whats the betting that most actors (and I am not having a go at actors here – since the same applies to writers and directors) they are so apathetic, detached and disinterested – not only with regard to their knowledge of cinema history but how the British industry works (or rather doesnt) and how to change it for the better – or at least make their voices heard.
    The industry is in the courses sold – I suppose many go into teaching – or IT or some other ‘related’ profession.
    Where dreams are concerned, people prefer to live in denial.
    Graduates saddle themselves with massive debts owed to the banks then shrug about what they have put themselves through – and wonder why they did it – I have heard this from actors on more than one occasion. I find it incredible. Even more so that they put up with it or at the very least do not inform themselves about what is happening in their own profession- this is their lives and careers after all.
    As Colin Warhurst said; if British people are so disinterested then perhaps they dont deserve to have a British film industry.
    Rant over.

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