I am currently sitting and watching Harry Brown. I am enjoying it and will probably keep enjoying it until it’s over. This is a British film, some of the money for it having come from the, now sadly defunct, British Film Council.
Wanting to get in to film myself, I have looked at the different options that are available for funding. There are some funds out there but the more promising ones are taken up with the larger budget films or for encouraging young film makers. Perhaps that is how it should be. It definately seemed to work in ‘Film Council Britain’. What I feel there should be more of is funds for first time direcors. Take it away from the young. Not that I think the young should not get the chance but let them compete for it on a level playing field with people of all ages. After all, we might find that the best time for starting out in film is in your 30s or 40s.
I am heartened by films like Harry Brown and The King’s Speach because it proves that Britain still has something to say to the world and thay the world still wants to listen. It may be sceptical but I do sometimes wonder if we are universally hated by our cousins overseas, despite the quality of the output. The only problem with British film at the moment seems to be content.
The British seem to be able to make one of three types of film. Gritty gangster type films, Costume dramas or romantic comedy. Can you think of a recent British film that doesn’t fall in to one of those categories? They are around but you have to search to find them.
I suppose the most popular of these is Dog Soldiers. We do Horror terribly well too but we see so little of it since Hammer closed it’s doors in the 1980s. It seems quite clear to me that the production standards are there in this country to compete with any Hollywood movie. The one thing they have over there is the ability to fund it.
This brings me back to the first point really. Funding for films can not just come from the money made on the releases. Richard Curtis’ Working Title Productions might push some money back in to film production but they had to get that money in the first place. This is often done through private funding from people who are inaccessable to the likes of me, a just-starting-out nobody with no track record. Because of this, Working Title won’t see all of the money they would have made on production, the investor has to be paid first. This severely limits the amount of money they can push in to new productions. It’s the same for any other production company and this is the main problem. Unless there is some source for funding, new films can’t be made.
This brings me on to the final point I want to make. If there is no political will to fund popular culture then the film industry suffers. The closire of the film council is bound to have an effect on the working of the British film industry but we don’t know what that effect will be until we see it in action. Cameron is desperately trying to save money at the moment and that makes it difficult for him to spend money on popular culture, even if he wanted to. Perhaps when we have recouped some of the money that Labour borrowed we shall be able to spend on films again. Until then people like me will have to find there budgets elsewhere.