Today David Cameron, the same David Cameron who proudly abolished the UK Film Council almost as soon as he came into power, suggested that funding be taken away from low-budget films in order to create ‘blockbusters’. In reality, this is a harmless soundbite, meaningless rhetoric like most of Cameron’s speeches but the idea is one that runs far deeper than that.
Julian Fellowes, who was on the panel headed by Lord Smith, former Labour Culture Secretary, said in an interview to Sky, “There has been the thinking in the past that public money should only go into films that can’t get any investment anywhere else. When you actually analyse that it means it should only go into films that nobody could conceivably want to see.” This is a very black and white view of not only the British Film Industry, but also of the Public. And ultimately, it’s not true. Before a film is actually created it is near on impossible to gauge how much the public will enjoy it and to attempt to do so would ruin the industry.
Success is based on many things, not least the mood of the Public at any given time. Most importantly, success does not define a good film. A lot of Britain’s films are unprofitable because they are inherently British and in other countries that doesn’t play so well. British films are crassly underfunded and unappreciated in Britain and that is something which needs addressing. Why is advertising so low for these films? Why aren’t they shown in more cinemas? A move to more mainstream films will not change that. Let alone with only an £18 million budget to spread between projects.
I was really hoping to write a nice little blog post about this, but I’m so irritated by the suggestion the Film Industry should only - or at least mainly - fund mainstream films that nothing decent, let alone readable, is coming out. And anyway, the Government should never get involved in the arts in such a way. I honestly believe Film is the most powerful medium the population of any country has for voicing opinion and to sideline that by focusing on what any government wants to achieve is a fucking travesty.